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

We are now entering one of the most beautiful times of the year at the Wilmot Botanical Gardens. The bloom of the sasanqua and hiemalis camellias is at its peak, while many of the early blooming japonica and reticulata camellias are beginning to show color. Don’t wait too long before making your first trip to the gardens this season to witness first hand the early camellia bloom. You will also be greeted by several other plants now in full bloom including Farfugium (aka tractor seat plants), Mexican sunflowers, Encore azaleas and, of course, the traditional seasonal display of poinsettias in the Life Styles garden. Photographs of many of these plants can be seen in the section, “What’s in bloom?”.

                Plans for the construction of the BJ and Eve Wilder Therapeutic Horticulture Garden are evolving. A meeting took place early this month with the landscape architectural firm, Marquis Latimer and Halback, that was selected to design the new garden to be located just north of the greenhouse. Once completed in early 2024, this facility will permit expansion of the therapeutic horticulture program and the addition of an outdoor gardening curriculum.

                Currently we are planting a group of large camellias, many of which are new to the gardens. These include Dick Hardison, JM Haynie, Bart Colbert Variegated, Touchdown, Dream Boat, Moonlight Bay, Rena Swick Variegated, Rosemarie Ostberg, Pink Parasol, Silver Waves, Sweetie Pie, Leslie Ann, Ruth Vickers Fulwood, Mary Ann Lawrence, Jerry Rice and Camellia yuhsiensis. Because of their size several of these camellias will have an immediate, positive impact on the beauty of the gardens.

                We are continuing to pursue our initiative as first described in the September newsletter to distribute to other universities cuttings grown from the Hippocratic tree originally planted on our medical campus in 1969. To date, these cuttings have been shared with the medical schools at Florida State University and the University of Central Florida. Other schools to receive a cutting include Florida International University, Tulane University and the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Our immediate goal is to place one of these special cuttings on the campus of each medical school in the southeast and quite possibly beyond as more cuttings become available. Although not a requirement to receive a tree, we are encouraging each recipient medical school to establish some type of ceremony involving medical students that will reaffirm the principles taught by Hippocrates, the first teacher of medical students in the modern era.

                Many of you attended our most recent and very successful fall plant sale and/or took advantage of our traditional online pre-sale opportunity. We thank all of you for your support and also wish to acknowledge the outstanding contributions of the many volunteers who made such an event possible.

                As we enter this holiday season the staff and I extend our heartfelt thanks for your many contributions to our success in 2022 and wish you a joyous holiday and a prosperous and Happy New Year.

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