Anna and Hays Mershon Secret Garden Provides A Favorite Spot for Relaxation, Therapy and Fun
While its location is not a true secret, the entrance to Shepherd Center’s Secret Garden is tucked away in the corner of the recreation therapy room in the original Shepherd Building. Once outside, visitors, patients and staff members can enjoy a beautifully landscaped garden, complete with a Koi pond (donated by Peter Dames), the serene Wishing Wall, given in memory of Kib Browning, accessible planting beds and beautiful statuary.
The garden serves many roles and has been an integral part of the campus since the Shepherd Building was constructed in 1982. Shepherd Center co-founder Alana Shepherd, an avid gardener, fully appreciates the value and necessity of the Secret Garden as both a therapeutic opportunity and an outdoor sanctuary for patients, families, staff members and volunteers. Her longtime friend, the late Dottie Fuqua, chaired the landscaping committee, which designed and supervised the installation of the original garden.
The Secret Garden is a venue for many activities and groups. Families enjoy strolling along the paths and being outdoors, patients use the garden for horticulture therapy, bird watching and terrain training. The Peach Corps and corporate volunteers host patient and family cookouts and ice cream socials in the garden, peer supporters often hold the Spring Fling and Fall Feast events there, and Shepherd employees and therapy teams use it for the occasional garden party.
Throughout the years, donors have provided new features, such as flower and planting beds raised to wheelchair height, a stacked stone grill for patient cookouts, and several water features. With all of these enhancements, the Secret Garden has remained a serene retreat for all patients, family members and staff.
More information on giving to Shepherd Center is available here or by calling 404-350-7306.
Written by Dean Melcher
In the media
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neurological conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.