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

The first five months of 2023 have been extremely eventful, with the peak activity taking place in April. Our Spring Plant Sale which occurred on April 14th and 15th was very successful including the online pre-sale component. This was all possible because of the army of dedicated volunteers who contributed their time and effort and to the support of those who purchased plants both online and in person. Our Fall Plant Sale is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, October 13th and 14th.

The sale activities were followed on April 18th with the late afternoon dedication of the Ben and Renee Bolusky Garden that was designed, constructed and funded by the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA). Members of Frontrunners, the local chapter of FNGLA under the direction of their president, Mr. Mike Gianikas, Landscapes Unlimited, were instrumental in initiating this project and bringing it to a successful conclusion. The dedication ceremony was followed by a catered dinner and attended by members of the FNGLA and their guests from around the state of Florida. The dinner was held under a tent located on the Central Commons at the Wilmot Botanical Gardens (See Figs 1 and 2).

The director of the Wilmot Botanical Gardens and members of our Steering Committee extend a very special thanks to the FNGLA for this outstanding addition, the eighth specialty garden, at Wilmot. Incidentally, this new garden has experienced a host of visitors since its inception including this 5-foot reptile (See Fig. 3 and 4) in May.

On April 27th the gardens hosted the unveiling of the statue of Hippocrates located in the Hippocratic Garden, another of our eight specialty gardens. The focal point of the statue is a 30-inch bronze bust of Hippocrates created by the sculptor, Vangelis Ilias, in his studio in Athens, Greece. This commissioned, life-size bust sits atop a 4-foot pedestal carved from Pentelic marble (See Fig. 5). As noted in my previous newsletter, the presence of the statue serves to underscore the continued importance of the principles of Hippocrates in our teaching and clinical care at UF.

Without the generous contributions from the following individuals, the addition of this beautiful statue to our gardens would not have been possible.

  • Patricia L. Abbitt
  • Phoebe Cade Miles
  • Martha Cade
  • Emily Cade Morrison
  • John and Susan Davis
  • Patrick and Suzanne Duff
  • Ricardo and Leslie Gonzales-Rothi
  • Maureen and Donald Novak
  • Eugene and Beverly Ryerson
  • Penelope Angelidou Salmons
  • Craig and Audrae Tisher

We thank you for your confidence and support, it is greatly appreciated. Immediately following the unveiling of the statue of Hippocrates, the recipient of the Hippocratic award for 2023 was announced. The members of the senior class of the UF College of Medicine selected Dr. Shelley W. Collins, associate dean for student affairs and professor in the pediatric department (See Fig. 6). Our congratulations to Dr. Collins.

Also occurring in April was the receipt of a $1.5 million gift to create an endowment to provide salary support for our gardener position at Wilmot. This transformative gift will insure the continued maintenance of the gardens as long as they exist. We extend our heartfelt thanks to this anonymous donor for yet another demonstration of extreme generosity.

Over the past few months, the gardens received several rare and/or unusual trees and shrubs from our good friend and colleague, Dr. Bart Schutzman, a Lecturer in the Department of Environmental Horticulture and a member of the gardens Steering Committee. Bart is also a key member of the partnership devoted to the propagation and distribution of cuttings from our Hippocratic tree that are being distributed to several medical schools in the southeast. What follows is a list of several of the most recent additions to the garden, many of which were also propagated by Dr. Schutzman, with pictures.

I extend my best wishes to all readers of the June 2023 newsletter and hope you enjoy a wonderful Summer.

List of Schutzman Donations:

  1. Blue Bamboo (Bambusa Chungii)
  2. Oliver’s Maple (Acer Oliverianum
  3. Wall Street Red Camellia Japanica
  4. Tea Olive (Osmanthus Fragrans)
  5. Aloysia Sweet Almond (Aloysia Virgata)
  6. Curley Willow (Salix Matsudana)
  7. Terry’s Pink Hibiscus
  8. Toona Tree (Toona Sinensis)
  9. Trident Maple (Acer Buerganum)
  10. Shumard Oak (Quercus Shumardii)
  11. China Fir (Cunninghamia Lanceolata)
  12. Sawtooth Oak (Quercus acutissima)