The Garden House

Spring is right around the corner at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland. Guests and volunteers alike are hoping that Punxsutawney Phil got it wrong on Groundhog Day this year when he saw his shadow, a sign that winter will stick around for a few more weeks. With spring soon upon us the House is busy preparing for another exciting year of providing gardens for families to enjoy.

Volunteer master and novice gardeners were found twiddling their green-thumbs in anticipation for the new season during a recent Garden Committee meeting at the House. The group is currently planning an important new feature to the south side of the property just off of the kitchen patio and improved landscaping to help make the entrance more attractive. They will be creating a new path along the outside edge of the garden to make it wheelchair accessible for guests. The garden space adjacent to the path will feature a bevy of new potted plants that are waist-high for easy access.

Known as the “Garden House”, the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland boasts more than 2.2 acres of green space in the heart of University Circle and just steps from the Cleveland Clinic and has a coy pond, patio and playground. The House wouldn’t receive this unique distinction if not for the selflessness of more than a dozen volunteers who oversee the House’s grounds. Led under the steadfast direction of Bobbe Katzman, the group creates unique and beautiful designs that highlight the various vegetation growing at the House. The beauty of the plants often elicits a sense of wonderment and awe from guests.

Guests of the House visit the gardens and ask ‘What is that?!” Such a simple question and response begins the volunteer’s journey to learn more about a guest’s story and life.
— Bobbe Katzman

The conversation that ensues often leads the gardeners to grow a special bond with guests and families at the Ronald McDonald House and puts their role and contributions to the House into perspective.

The layout of the gardens was established more than 20 years ago by landscape architect and visionary, Richard Heaton. Richard’s goal was to have the gardens be used by families as a place of solace, comfort, and healing away from the hustle and bustle of the hospital. The trees and shrubs Richard planted were strategically selected. Each provides food that attracts birds to the property, thus bringing more nature to the House. It was this vision that continues to grow in new and exciting ways each spring.

In 2015, volunteers, with support from the Master Gardeners of Cuyahoga County, planted a vegetable garden outside the kitchen. The garden provides fresh vegetables and fruit for the nightly family meals. Two raised boxes were added in 2016 to allow guests in wheelchairs to help tend the plants.

Do you have a green thumb? Like to get your hands dirty and work outside? Join the garden volunteer group today!

I remember I was having a really rough day at the hospital tending to my daughter. I came back to the Ronald McDonald House and sat between the pine trees and was able to clear my mind and refocus.
— Kitty, RMH Guest