Serenity Garden

By Peggy Bryan

With an email address of treemomma, it’s obvious that trees are important to me!  What’s more important is seeing the rich beauty and gentle comfort that trees bring to home sites, schools and neighborhoods.  Through Greenscape, I’ve been privileged to participate in lots of plantings year by year, and through our family’s tree farm, I’ve gotten to help organize several community improvement projects.  All have made such a lasting difference in my life – I suspect, even more than for those for whom the trees were planted.  

One of the best projects was the Serenity Garden we created at Gateway, Steps to Recovery, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation residential facility on Stockton Street.  Housed in a formerly defunct Holiday Inn, the professional care was first rate, the environment sorely lacking.  Understandably, as a non-profit entity, we had few funds available for landscape; the large open interior courtyard (an acre+) was mostly a neat, sterile dirt patch with three marginal old trees.

Through great community support, we transformed the dirt patch into a serene tree, shrub and people friendly urban oasis that says to clients and staff alike – you matter; life is hard, but there is real hope going forward.  The 17 large oak trees that line the serpentine walkway where mothers stroll their babies, clients do fitness exercises, and mentors and family members interact with clients, has transformed the whole feel of the facility.  It doesn’t change the nature of the professional care, but greatly enhances the physical counterpart and more adequately reflects the overall quality.

Not long after we completed the garden, a resident stopped me. She said, “There has never been a garden in my life…until now.  Every morning, I sit under the trees with a peace I’ve never known.”  What a difference a tree can make, what a blessing on every level!