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Samaritan Gardens Featured in New Book

By Ian Rollins

The Japanese-style gardens on the Samaritan Health Services campuses in Lebanon have received a prominent write-up in a new book, “Visionary Landscapes.”

Kendall H. Brown, Ph.D., a professor at California State University Long Beach and past president of the North American Japanese Gardening Association (NAJGA), wrote the book. He included Samaritan’s gardens in a section featuring Hoichi Kurisu, the internationally-known Japanese landscape artist who developed the gardens for Samaritan.

“The garden’s ‘remedy in green’ and ‘infusion of serenity’ extend throughout the hospital,” Brown wrote of the hospital garden in the book. “The hospital’s ArtsCare program, dedicated to ‘fostering healing through the arts,’ has placed garden photos by patients and professionals and Japanese nature-themed art on the walls, a tree-motif donor wall and strings of origami cranes flowing from the ceilings.”

Kurisu developed the hospital’s 11,000-square-foot garden in 2004, followed by the entrance to the Samaritan Health Sciences Campus in 2009 and the one-acre garden adjacent to the Boulder Falls Inn on the Samaritan Health Sciences Campus.

This was Brown’s third book detailing Japanese gardens around the United States. He took an interest in Japanese gardens in America when he married his wife Kuniko, and that interest has continued as they have explored gardens for nearly three decades.

“Japanese gardens are places where people want to be for the most important times of their lives,” Brown said. “You see a lot of weddings and memorial services in Japanese gardens. In the hospital setting, a Japanese garden can help put you at peace and possibly help with your healing.”

The Lebanon Community Hospital Foundation raised the funds for each garden through separate capital campaigns.

Foundation Director Betty Koehn’s thoughts on the gardens are also included in Brown’s book. Koehn’s remarks included interactions with a critically ill patient who said the garden inspired him to keep fighting his disease, and he lived 11 more years. She also mentioned a hospital nursing manager who sent his staff into the garden one-by-one following a tragic case, and the staff was able to return to work revitalized after spending time in the garden.

“Personally, it is a privilege to walk down the long hallway that spans the length of the garden and look out at nature every day,” Koehn wrote in the book. “Watching the changing of the seasons always inspires me! The garden has transformed how I process things. We all need the calming presence of nature to clear and invigorate our minds.”

“It’s a privilege to write about the gardens in Lebanon because they’ve done it so well here,” Brown said. “This is one of the great success stories of what Japanese gardens have accomplished.”

The gardens have been featured in several publications since 2004, including the Oregonian’s Home & Gardens section and the Journal of Japanese Gardening.

Brown first heard about the Samaritan gardens at the NAJGA conference in Chicago in 2015, during a presentation by Koehn and foundation trustee Bill Rauch, who was foundation president through all three garden campaigns.

Brown is organizing the association’s 2018 conference in Portland. The group will tour Lebanon’s gardens as part of the conference.

A limited number of copies of the book, signed by Brown, are for sale at the hospital’s Caring Corner gift shop. For more information about contributing to the gardens’ upkeep, call the hospital foundation at 541-451-6303.