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Unveiling of UPMC St. Margaret's Garden of Hope scheduled for this month

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Landscaping done on the grounds of the new patient/family resource pavilion and Garden of Hope at UPMC St. Margarets is in final stages.

Bright pink azaleas and deep green ornamentals are a fitting choice to adorn the new Helen and Miles Colwell Garden of Hope at UPMC St. Margaret.

“My mother loved nature, and especially gardening,” said Comly Watters, a Fox Chapel resident and daughter of Helen Miles, from whose estate a donation made possible the construction of the garden this spring.

“She saw it as a form of therapy.”

The Garden of Hope, at a total cost of $320,000, is scheduled for a grand unveiling later this month but passers-by are getting a glimpse into the serene spot already, with construction nearing completion.

Immaculately groomed, the garden offers an arbor with vining flowers and a marble wall with a peaceful waterfall. Benches will provide family members a chance to relax in the tranquil setting, outside the new St. Margaret Foundation Patient-Family Resource Pavilion, near the hospital's Delafield Road entrance.

“The generous donation from the Miles family helped give us our start,” said Mary Lee Gannon, foundation president.

Gannon spearheaded a capital campaign to see the balance of the construction costs raised.

“The garden will provide the 1 million people that frequent the campus annually a calm and natural respite away from the bedside,” Gannon said.

The garden came first as a suggestion from the late Dr. Miles Colwell, who was an internist in Natrona Heights for 10 years before becoming medical director and vice president of Alcoa, Gannon said.

Helen Colwell grew up on a farm in Allenwood and was an avid gardener and supporter of the St. Margaret Foundation. Her daughter said her wish is that the garden at UPMC St. Margaret will have the same effect on patients as a garden had on her mother — “a place of hope, peace, calm and comfort.”

“We are honored to memorialize Mrs. Colwell with this beautiful asset to our campus,” Gannon said. “And we are humbled to receive continued support from the people we serve, our local garden clubs and our donors, as we help our patients find a little bit of solace in nature when they are facing some of the greatest challenges of their lives.”

Others in the Lower Valley took an interest in the garden's early stages, Gannon said.

Betty and Larry Rich of Fox Chapel donated to name the garden's fountain in memory of Larry Rich's father, Leonard, because they appreciated the care he received at the hospital.

The couple has embraced UPMC St. Margaret as a family. The idea for naming the fountain came to Larry Rich because his father, who died in September at age 82, always loved to listen to the fountain at their home. Larry Rich's mother, Ceil Rich, now volunteers at the hospital.

Local garden clubs in the region also were a valuable asset in the garden's design. Club members joined the foundation's community advisory board to help, Gannon said.

Master Gardener Sally Foster of O'Hara offered her consulting services because her family members are appreciative of the care they have received from the hospital over the years, Gannon said.

“I am happy to support this garden because we use the hospital and are grateful it's there,” Foster said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at

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