On Mondays, Dr. Gregory Berlet can be found on the roof at Dublin Methodist Hospital.

More specifically, he's tending a rooftop garden created for the surgical staff. He's checking on the plants and doing a bit of pruning.

Gardening aside, Berlet said his real joy comes from watching the rest of the staff experiencing the space.

"My enjoyment is watching them enjoy themselves," he said.

This is the second official growing season at Dublin Methodist Hospital's rooftop garden.

Although the surgical staff had been sporadically tending small groups of potted plants in the past, funding from the Ohio Health Foundation and the Berlet Family Foundation enabled the garden to grow to its current size.

A row of matching pots with various vegetables encircles the perimeter.

An irrigation system was employed this season for the first time, said Meredith Biederman, administrative nurse manager of surgical services.

The hospital employs 120 associates within its surgical services department, and the patio serves as the gathering place, Biederman said.

The garden has helped the surgical staff find a respite from their busy days within hospital halls.

Berlet is an orthopedic surgeon with Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center and serves as an independent surgeon at Dublin Methodist.

The rooftop patio had become a natural gathering area for staff and, Berlet said, he decided to talk to known "green thumb" and surgical technician Jay Rowe about organizing a garden.

"What started as Jay's labor of love turned out to be everybody's labor of love," Berlet said.

A home gardener for about 20 years, Rowe has found gardening a rewarding experience in part because, "you get to eat your work," he said.

Dublin Methodist's rooftop garden has peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and tomatoes, Rowe said, and staff can pluck the vegetables and take them home. Last year, the staff had a salsa party with some of the harvest.

"It's been very nice for the department," Rowe said.

All hospitals are by necessity fairly sterile environments, Berlet said.

The surgical atmosphere is an intense climate, and the garden has become a focal point of Dublin Methodist's culture.

"The garden was merely the tool for us to build a cooperative culture around something that isn't just work," Berlet said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah