I signed the petition to save the Prouty Garden at Boston Children’s Hospital, but online testimonials are not enough. (“Petition urges hospital to save garden,” April 5.) Meaningful actions are required to sway the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Publicity about the future loss has been minimal.
The garden is more than half an acre, much more than a “pocket garden,” and inspired by the Philip Johnson-designed Sculpture Garden at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. To have a garden inspired by that model in our community—what an amazing asset Olive Prouty gave us!
The MOMA garden has had many accolades—the most beautiful garden in Manhattan, a beloved urban oasis—in comparison, the Prouty Garden has a low profile, yet is a valued refuge for staff, patient families and visitors. For caregivers especially, it’s a quiet respite. There are birds and butterflies, shrubs and large trees.
Like the NYC garden, it is a rectangular space bounded by high walls, an outdoor room open to the sky and sun, beautiful to look at and to move around in. Like the MOMA garden, there are birches next to a pool of water and irregular clusters of trees, and movable chairs. There are surprising elements—hidden animal sculptures, a spectacular dawn redwood tree, and space to accommodate special events.
There is the question of the donor’s intent and the endowment fund that was created to maintain the space; according to the plaque displayed there, the garden “will exist as long as Children’s Hospital has children, families and staff to enjoy it.” Mrs. Prouty died in 1974. What becomes of her legacy? The hospital is promoting substitute space, but not an equivalent open-air experience.