From the Director’s Desk: Thoughts of a Weed Puller
Excitement is building on the UF campus as we begin the new academic year. Some ongoing as well as new initiatives to enhance the Wilmot Botanical Gardens will also commence very soon. Resumption of the camellia relocation project initiated in 2018 will begin in mid to late October with the onset of cooler weather. We anticipate that another 90 camellias obtained from the former Gordy camellia garden in Ocala, Florida will be planted throughout the gardens. This will bring the total number relocated to our gardens to 200 when the project is finally completed next spring.
By the time you receive this newsletter, we anticipate that grading and the installation of a drainage system will have been completed in a large area located in the southeast quadrant of the gardens. This site is being prepared to receive several of the additional camellias this fall.
Classes in therapeutic horticulture under the direction of Ms. Leah Diehl will resume in mid-September. Those groups to be served this fall will include Veterans with a mental health diagnosis, women Veterans, cancer patients and their caregivers, and a group from UF Shands Florida Recovery Center. The therapeutic horticulture alumni group for those participants whose original program has come to an end will also be served.
We will also continue our work with young adults on the autism spectrum and expand the program to include individuals with other disabilities. This initiative under the direction of Dr. Charles Guy offers the opportunity for the participants to obtain certification as a Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association Horticulture Professional. Thus far, six individuals have completed the required coursework and three of the six have passed the qualifying examination. Three have yet to take the examination. Two of the three with certification are now gainfully employed which is the ultimate goal of the program. This fall the program will include a weekly one-hour greenhouse session in addition to the 90 minute tutoring sessions led by Dr. Guy.
I am pleased to announce that we received a recent gift of $50,000 from the Jules B. Chapman, M.D. and Annie Lou Chapman Private Foundation to underwrite an additional five years of maintenance for the Chapman Healing Garden.
Finally, Ms. Leah Diehl, director of our therapeutic horticulture programming, has received notification that she is one of three finalists for the 2019 Therapeutic Garden Grant sponsored by the National Garden Bureau. The winner of this award to be announced in early October will receive a $3,000 prize. A short 60 second video describing the program is contained in this newsletter.