Local Gardener Lifts Spirits by Grooming on the Hospital’s Animal Topiaries

Who do you call when your giraffe needs a haircut? At Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, it’s the horticultural technician.

At the roundabout greenspace outside of the hospital’s west entrance, people are greeted with a roaring menagerie of meticulously trimmed bushes shaped into charming animal figures sculpted as a lion, giraffe, and an elephant with a bird perched on its back, known as the Circle of Friends.

These animal-shaped shrubs are known as topiaries. Topiary is the horticultural practice of training perennial plants by clipping the foliage and twigs to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes. And when it comes to sculpting the evergreen, one can’t help but smile about creating animal shapes for a hospital garden. 

“It makes me feel good knowing that I am bringing smiles to visitors and staff, and especially for our young patients to help make them feel less scared about coming to the hospital,” said Filadelfo Bedolla, Stanford Medicine grounds horticultural tech.

Beyond their aesthetic appeal, these topiaries can serve a therapeutic purpose for patients, providing a tranquil environment for relaxation and contemplation. The whimsical shapes can spark imagination and conversation, fostering a sense of joy and wonder amidst the hospital’s hustle and bustle.

As the hospital horticulturalist, Bedolla approaches this task with both artistic flair and practicality. “This is my way of giving my best and making everyone feel good about coming to Packard Children’s.”


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