Posts tagged ‘University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine’

The Doctor Is In: Physic Gardens

University of Cincinnati Medicinal Herb Garden, 1977. Elise H. Warrington, photographer.

While gardens have long been used for medicinal and culinary purposes, the first documented physic garden, and perhaps the most widely known, was the Chelsea Physic Garden in London, founded in 1673. Physic gardens were closely related to botanical gardens, as both garden types encouraged the collection, documentation and study of different plant species as well as promoting horticultural education to the public. The primary difference between the two garden types was that physic gardens were principally concerned with growing herbs for their medicinal qualities; the Chelsea Garden began as an apothecary’s garden used to train apprentices in identifying plants. Today the garden still exists and has a major role in public education, with a focus on natural medicine.

Sheffield Garden, 2000. Emilie Lapham, photographer.

Physic gardens can be credited with influencing not only botanical gardens, but also the modern herb garden. The Archives of American Gardens Garden Club of America Collection includes many examples of both public and private herb gardens. Exemplifying the contemporary role of herb gardens in education, the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine hosts an herb garden, with a variety of medicinal plants (including marigolds and aloe) lining the college’s walkways. Compared to the University of Cincinatti, the herb garden within the private Sheffield Garden of Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania appears much more whimsical. Accompanied by statuary and a flowering border, it demonstrates how the herb garden can be valued both for its aesthetic and utilitarian appeal.

Jessica Dame, Archive of American Gardens, Garden Club of America History and Design Intern

July 20, 2012 at 2:00 am Leave a comment


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