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

Hurricane Irma has come and gone and those of us associated with the Wilmot Gardens have been able to breathe a giant sigh of relief. With one but very important exception, we experienced no major wind damage or flooding in the gardens including the greenhouse and the conference center. Nevertheless, it was necessary for our team aided by many volunteers to devote several days to general clean-up of the storm debris left in the wake of Irma.

The one exception was the uprooting of the sycamore tree that is the central feature of the Hippocratic Garden located in the northeast corner of the community lawn known as The Commons. The tree has been replanted and as of this writing, it remains viable. This tree is a direct descendent of the original tree obtained as a seedling by the UF Medical School class of 1969 from the Greek minister of agriculture and planted in front of Shands Hospital North along archer Road. It’s significance lies in the fact that Hippocrates, considered the father of modern medicine, who taught and practiced medicine on the Greek Isle of Cos, frequently taught medical students while sitting under a sycamore tree. Each spring a ceremony is held by the senior medical school class at UF to recognize the clinical faculty member they believe best exemplifies the principles taught by Hippocrates. When the decision was made in 2009 to relocate that yearly ceremony to the Wilmot Gardens, the sycamore tree was believed to be too large to move to the new location. Fortunately, Ms. Linda Leucking and Ms. Irma Velez undertook the challenge to air-layer the original tree to obtain a second-generation seedling, which was planted in April 2011 at the new site in the Wilmot Gardens.

Those of you who visit and/or volunteer at the Wilmot Gardens will be pleased to learn that the parking lot west of the conference center building is undergoing expansion and will be paved. Hopefully the project which is now in progress will be completed by the time you read our fall newsletter. We are grateful to Mr. Mark Helms, Director of the Physical Plant Division at UF, for his support of this project. We also wish to thank Robert Walpole and Monique Heathcock of CHW, Inc. who provided their expert engineering for the project pro bono.

Preparations are now well underway for the fall plant sales at the Wilmot Gardens. An excellent selection of camellias and azaleas will be offered to the general public on Friday, November 3rd from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, November 4th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

There will be a second plant sale on Friday, December 1st from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, December 2nd from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Greenhouse at Wilmot Gardens. This sale will feature Christmas cacti, succulents, plant terrariums, seasonal edibles and more.

As usual, the proceeds from each sale will support the Wilmot Gardens and the therapeutic horticulture program.

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

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