Mile Bluff's healing gardens: Where flowers grow, hope blooms

The ups and downs of the healthcare environment can be a lot for anyone to manage from time to time. Whether it’s worry about health issues, concern over medical tests, or fear about the well-being of loved ones or patients - anxiety and stress can add up, leaving even the strongest people feeling overwhelmed. In times like these, it is nice to have a place to retreat, and find some peace. For this very reason, Mile Bluff has developed two healing gardens at its main campus in Mauston.

One garden is located outside the main hospital lobby, and the other is found across from the surgery department entrance. These spaces are set aside as a peaceful oasis for patients, family members and care providers. They are places to go to unwind and seek refuge away from the stress of appointments, lab tests, sickness and disease.

Growing for the future
All gardens - like life, health and recovery - are a work in progress. Over the years, the healing gardens have been lovingly managed by a group of volunteers from the medical center and the community. Improvements, like handicap-accessible paths, memorial benches and a pergola, have been added; but maintaining the gardens is a huge undertaking.

Recently, Mile Bluff Medical Center Foundation took over the management of the healing gardens. Working alongside the team of garden volunteers, the foundation has a vision for an even brighter future for the healing gardens.

“It seemed like a natural fit for the foundation,” explains Martha Airth-Kindree, Foundation Executive Director. “The gardens promote growth and relationships, two things the foundation is already dedicated to.”

Beginning in the spring of 2018, the foundation will begin working with Lulich Landscaping to enhance the healing garden located outside the hospital lobby. The new space will utilize the existing handicap-accessible path and pergola, and will add decorative boulders, perennial flowers and shrubs, as well as river rock bedding. As the garden develops, additional items such as bird feeders and a donor recognition area, will be added.

This summer, handicap-accessible pathways will be added to the surgery healing garden; with plans to continue renovations through the spring of 2019.

Helping our garden grow
To ensure the gardens continue to grow and flourish, the foundation is asking for donations. The projected cost of the enhancements to the hospital lobby healing garden is about $10,000. The foundation has already raised a portion of that money, but is asking community members and businesses to help make the completion of the project possible.

All donations will go to purchase the needed plants, landscaping materials, and decorative boulders, and will help to fund the labor and general upkeep of the garden. Funds donated that exceed the financial needs of the hospital lobby garden project will go toward the future remodeling of the surgery garden.

Contributing to the healing gardens means you are helping to reduce stress, increase energy, and restore hope for patients, visitors and care providers.

“For thousands of years, people have received health benefits from nature,” says Martha. “Our goal is to bring those healing benefits of being outdoors to our patients, families, and staff.”

If you want to contribute to the garden projects, you can also make a donation online, indicating that you want your donation to be used for the healing garden.

Mile Bluff Medical Center Foundation is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. All donations made to the foundation are tax-deductible.

For more information about the healing garden project, the foundation or other initiatives, contact Martha at 608-847-1495 or by e-mail at