Smell the flowers or unwind at Wellness Park
Like a green lung in the arid desert, Wellness Park in Palm Springs offers a breath of fresh air, a bench under a shade tree, the soft scent of flowers and plants. You can hear the breeze in the trees and watch butterflies flutter by.
Wellness Park, at the corner of Via Miraleste and Tachevah Road at the north end of Ruth Hardy Park, is a block from the Desert Regional Medical Center. The five-acre site is designed for fitness and disease prevention, or just unwinding after a busy day. It has a quarter-mile walking or jogging trail, five exercise and fitness stations, drinking fountains and benches.
Dogs and humans both love the park. An English bulldog named Ella has been a frequent visitor to the park the past five years, according to Ron Rodgers of Palm Springs, who is one of many dog owners who strolls the walkways as the sun goes down.
Two large lemon trees stand like silent sentries in the triangular healing and fragrance garden, which features a bubbling fountain surrounded by more than 25 medicinal and aromatic plants and two benches. A small sign beside the lemon tree points out that sailors used lemons to treat scurvy.
Other signs identify each plant and describe its medicinal property. You’ll find fresh smelling French lavender, a plant that dates back to the Roman Empire, its oil used to treat battle wounds.
Peppermint is useful for the common cold, cough, sinus infections and respiratory infections.
Pulp from the aloe vera plant can be used to heal burns, wounds and sunburn. It can also soothe stomach irritation and digestive disorders.
The wormwood bush can rid intestinal worms in humans and animals. It is an aromatic herb with a mild camphor fragrance, but a bitter taste.
Aromas of thyme and chocolate
Scented thyme holds its favor in cooking and blends with garlic, olive oil and tomatoes. A Mediterranean herb, thyme also has antiseptic properties and has been used to preserve meats.
Berlanderia Lyrata, or chocolate flower blooms at night and early morning, emitting a cocoa scent overnight before the petals drop by afternoon.
The park is conducive to health and wellness, according to Robin Kobaly of Morongo Valley, a botanist and biologist, who designed the fragrance and healing garden and installed the plants and educational signs in 2013.
She is the executive director of the Summertree Institute, a non-profit environmental education organization. She has more than 20 years experience with the Bureau of Land Management as a botanist, wildlife biologist and natural history interpreter.
The inspiration and funding for the park came from the Desert Healthcare District and the federal government’s Healthy People program in 2010. Wellness Park is free and open to the public.
“It’s a place for meditation and relaxation, reading a book or just unwinding,” Kobaly said. “Just walk in and take a deep breath. You’ll feel better.”
With the Desert Regional Medical Center nearby, the visiting families and friends of patients (as well as staff, and the public) can exercise, unwind, relax, meditate and learn about healing properties of plants.