Some of my most vivid memories from childhood are from the dentists office. I only saw one dentist until I was an adult, and he also did my orthodontics. I had braces on for four years, so I spent a lot of time in that office. I can remember the smell of it, the artwork that hung on the walls (modern portraits of athletes like skier Jean Claude Killy), and the toys that were in the children’s waiting room (my favorite was the Fisher Price Little People Castle). I also remember the garden.
There was a waiting room for parents outside, and a separate waiting room with toys for the kids inside the office. There was one small treatment room, and a larger room with three or four dental chairs all together for general check ups and cleanings. This was the days before TV’s and video game consoles on dental chairs. This row of chairs faced large plate glass windows facing into a small garden. The garden was surrounded by cedar fencing. There was a bird feeder that hung on the fence, a round face with outstretched hands where you could place birdseed. There was never any seed in the feeder. The garden didn’t get much light, being that it sat between office buildings, so the plants were all things that could tolerate low light; mosses, wispy grasses, and house plant looking things.
I found looking out at that garden a very peaceful and calming thing. There must have been some thought about the effects of the garden on the patients, but I doubt they could have realized how much it affected us. There was a small water feature in the garden. The sound of that fountain is something I still remember.
The size and placement of that garden reminds me of my own patio now. Without realizing it, I am trying to recreate that same calming feeling with my patio. I haven’t come very far yet, but I know where it’s headed.