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Humane Society of Greater Rochester

If you don’t know it’s there, you might pass right by, but behind a pavilion on the farm walk is a very special place. It’s Ripley’s Garden, a place of peace and healing for the people of Lollypop Farm.

When Sharon Coates and Bruce Zaretsky, of Zaretsky and Associates, Inc., a Rochester landscape design company, lost their dog Ripley, they were devastated. “Ripley came from Lollypop Farm. We adopted her in 2000,” Bruce explained. “We called her the sweetest of the sweets. To us, she was really special.” So, when she passed they wanted to do something to honor Ripley and help the people who had given her a second chance.

Sharon Coates and Bruce Zaretsky visit the healing garden they built in Ripley’s honor with their most recently adopted dog Nellie.

As landscape designers, Sharon and Bruce came up with the idea to create a healing garden for the staff and volunteers of Lollypop Farm.  “When you go to Lollypop Farm the pets are all the superstars,” explains Bruce. “People go in and they see a cute puppy, and the staff just becomes background. When we thought of this plan, we though of the stress the staff goes through everyday, treating animals emaciated and abused, having to do countless surgeries. So we wanted to do something for the staff, we wanted to create a place a place they can come out and decompress.”

The design of Ripley’s Garden is inspired by the image of a hand holding the paw of a dog and the human-animal connection.

The design of the garden came from the image of a hand holding the paw of a dog—or as Sharon and Bruce would say the human-animal connection. “I think you guys are really trying to cover all the bases, you’re not only rescuing pets of all kinds, your trying to help people become better pet owners,” says Sharon. And so—the design needed to reflect that. “After that, we had some fun. As an homage to Ripley and the animals we chose plants with animal names like Cat Mint, Dogwood, and Lamb’s Ear.”

The healing garden was built in Ripley’s honor, but it’s meant to be a place where staff and volunteers can take a moment to recover from the stresses of shelter life.

“We just want people to come out and use the garden, and feel the healing power of nature,” Sharon goes on to explain. “Just take five minutes. We know you are all so busy, but just take 5 or 10 minutes, a few moments to decompress. Your world will be better for it.”

You can find Ripley’s garden nestled behind the pavilion between two horse paddocks. And thanks to Sharon and Bruce it will always be there—for the people behind the scenes at Lollypop Farm.