Weather Forecast


North Country Health Services: Healing gardens to make their debut

George Salner, left, discusses the possibilities of garden water features with Tim Allen, owner of T&K Outdoors, at the North Country Regional Hospital Charlie Naylor Healing Garden. The dedication of the garden and an Indoor Healing Garden will be held from 4-6 p.m. today in the NCRH Education Center. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron

Healing landscapes have long been an important aspect of human life. Sacred groves, special rocks, herb beds and cloisters are all part of the tradition.

With contributions from the Neilson Foundation and Bank Forward Foundation, North Country Regional Hospital drawing on those traditions with the Charlie Naylor Healing Garden outside the east side of the building and the Indoor Healing Garden in a central lobby. Both gardens have water features, plantings and places for quiet contemplation and rest.

Both gardens will be dedicated in a special program from 4-6 p.m. today in the NCRH Education Room with a program at 5 p.m. Garden tours will be available and refreshments will be served.

The Neilson Foundation contributed $200,000 for the outdoor garden, which offers three waterfalls, a gazebo, labyrinth, winding paths, benches and perennial flowers, vines and shrubs.

"It's such a beautiful place," said Penny Echternach, executive director of the North Country Health Services Foundation. "One of the special things is working with Jim Naylor (Charlie's son), who took Charlie's place on the board, to make sure it would have been something Charlie would have liked and enjoyed."

"I'm proud to see that's happened for him," Jim Naylor said. "The guy worked hard for Bemidji - always worked in the background. It's a nice fitting tribute to him."

Charlie Naylor, who died at age 94 in September 2008, was an originator of the Bemidji Industrial park and community leader in a wide range of the city's betterment. He and other business leaders met each morning as a "Koffeeclutch" to discuss areas of regional interest. His coffee friends, as well as members of his family will be honored at the garden dedication.

"Charlie Naylor was my neighbor," said Julie Flathers, NCHS employee. "He was a wonderful man. The Healing Garden is such a great way to remember him. He always took care of his flowers, trees and birds."

The Charlie Naylor Healing Garden was built by T&K Outdoors with design work by Winter & Associates and Widseth Smith Nolting.

Tim Allen, owner of T&K Outdoors, said he is happy with the outcome, as are his employees, John Heglund, Jared Stull and Kerry Allen, who have worked on the details from the groundbreaking.

"The water features do it for me," Allen said.

"It's nothing like on paper," Echternach said. "We have people just waiting for us to open the doors."

The Indoor Healing Garden funded by a $35,000 contribution from Bank Forward, also features a waterfall surrounded by plants by Bemidji Floral and woodwork by Keenan's Cabinets of Distinction.

Echternach said the indoor sanctuary will allow patients, visitors and employees to find a place of restoration and meditation.

"It's kind of away from the hustle and bustle to get away for a moment of peace," she said.

Both gardens are dedicated to the philosophy of American naturalist and writer John Burroughs: "I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in tune once more."