From the Director’s Desk: Thoughts of a Weed Puller

It is my pleasure to introduce the first quarterly newsletter from Wilmot Gardens. The purpose of the newsletter is to keep you better informed about ongoing activities, new projects and innovative programs that are taking place in the gardens. Also, we will introduce you to our staff by including brief bio-sketches of each individual. From time to time the newsletter will highlight a volunteer as a means of recognizing the important role of each in restoring and maintaining the gardens and supporting the many activities that occur at Wilmot Gardens.

It is now 10 years from the time a small group of volunteers first began the arduous task of restoring Wilmot Gardens. Initially led by Linda and Bill Luecking, the group was comprised principally of both active and retired UF faculty and staff, master gardeners and an occasional student. They worked every other Saturday morning for 8 ½ years to ensure the rebirth of the gardens. Many of these same individuals continue to volunteer their time and expertise to this initiative. Large groups of UF students began to support this effort and they continue to do so to this day. This herculean effort has been supported almost exclusively by private donations, both large and small, and to each and every donor we extend our heartfelt thanks for helping to make the dream a reality.

In this first edition of the newsletter you will find pictures of our latest project, the Chapman Healing Garden. Construction was completed in late September and extensive landscaping is now underway. Brick paver walkways begin at the north and south entrances and lead visitors to two interconnected water features. The upper pool forms the centerpiece of a memorial created to honor the late Dr. Richard C. Christensen, former chairman of the Department of Psychiatry in Jacksonville. A lower pool with adjacent seating is surrounded by a circular wall of fieldstone to create the final destination within the garden. The design incorporates sound, wind, water and natural fragrances combined with shade and filtered light to create a therapeutic garden for visitors to enjoy with all of their senses. We are indebted to the board of directors of the Dr. Jules B. Chapman and Annie Lou Chapman Private Foundation for the generous lead gift that funded this project.

We hope each of you will plan on making a visit to Wilmot Gardens this fall. Several sasanqua camellias are in bloom and japonica cultivars are not far behind. A stroll through the Japanese Maple Tree Garden will reward you with a variety of fall colors that are on display. The gardens are always open for a visit and guided tours can be arranged by contacting Ms. Bailey Hillman, business manager, at (352) 273-5832 or

C. Craig Tisher, M.D., Director, Wilmot Gardens

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