The Outdoor Working Garden
The Therapeutic Horticulture Program at Wilmot Botanical Gardens is limited to indoor greenhouse gardening at present because of the absence of an accessible outdoor venue for gardening activities. We envision a 6,000-square-foot working garden with vertical wall planters, trellises, raised and at-grade planters, espaliers, and wheelchair-accessible planters to facilitate hands-on involvement outdoors. The plan includes shelters from rain and sun and a centrally located water source for drinking and gardening activities. The incorporation of extra-wide sidewalks to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers and other mobility devices will ensure 100 percent accessibility for our participants, a guiding principle for all facilities at Wilmot Botanical Gardens. Lighting will also be incorporated in the design to permit evening activities and special events. The addition of a spacious, outdoor working garden will permit at least a doubling or more of the number of individuals we can serve, and it will greatly expand the types of gardening activities we can provide.
Conference Center Patio
Wilmot Botanical Gardens plans to expand visual and physical access to the Chapman Healing Garden from the conference center by constructing an adjacent patio area overlooking the site. The patio area would provide additional space for the public and for therapeutic horticulture participants to relax and enjoy the gardens. This construction project would also include some much needed updates to the conference center itself, including the creation of direct access to the patio through French doors, thereby creating a more cohesive reception space that takes full advantage of the center’s natural setting.
As a living historic landmark, Wilmot Botanical Gardens strives to be an accessible and welcoming space for the public. To make the gardens more secure, especially in the evening hours, and to enable the gardens to host evening events, additional lighting needs to be placed along the main pathways. This would allow visitors to enjoy the gardens at dusk and into the early evening.
Mendenhall Family Camellia Walk (2020)
The Mendenhall Family Camellia Walk, located in the southeast section of the Wilmot Botanical Gardens was made possible by a generous gift from Drs. William and Nancy Mendenhall in July 2020. Their gift to the gardens was made in consideration of the Mendenhall’s abiding interest in and love for the University of Florida and in gratitude for the Mendenhall family’s education at UF. This handsome addition to the Wilmot Botanical Gardens is intended to provide another peaceful green-space option for quiet reflection by UF Health patients, their families, faculty, employees, students, and garden visitors.
Gordy Camellia Garden (2018)
The Gordy Camellia Garden is located south centrally near the Lifestyle Garden and Track. The garden was made possible by the generous donation in 2018 of over 300 camellias from the exemplary collection of camellias previously belonging to Clarence and Lillian Gordy of Ocala, Florida.
Chapman Healing Garden (2017)
The Chapman Healing Garden is located near the south side of the Conference Center at Wilmot Botanical Gardens. The garden provides another venue for patients and the public to experience the therapeutic benefits of green spaces, more specifically by offering an abundance of sensory experiences related to plants, including their fragrance, texture, shape and color as well as auditory stimulation from a water feature. The Chapman Healing Garden was made possible due to a generous donation from The Dr. Jules B. Chapman and Annie Lou Chapman Private Foundation.
Japanese Maple Tree Garden (2015)
The Japanese Maple Tree Garden, which features a collection of more than 30 rare Japanese maple trees, is nestled near the center of the gardens. Identifiable by a Genkan, or traditional Japanese entryway constructed of redwood and cedar, the Japanese Maple Tree Garden adds a new dimension to Wilmot’s foliage, with brilliant colors in the fall and spring and delicate green leaves during the summer. This garden was made possible by a donation from Dr. and Mrs. Johannes Vieweg, who also contributed the maple trees from Dr. Vieweg’s personal collection.
The Greenhouse at Wilmot Botanical Gardens (2014)
This greenhouse is one of the most important additions to Wilmot Botanical Gardens since the restoration efforts began in 2006. The facility provides more than 2,700 square feet of climate-controlled space for gardening activities as well as additional office and reception space. It also houses the therapeutic horticulture program, which allows more individuals to benefit from the healing power of gardening and provides a venue for the gardens’ empirical research into the benefits of therapeutic horticulture. The greenhouse was made possible through generous gifts from private donors and gifts in kind.
Hippocratic Garden (2010)
As of 2010, the Hippocratic Garden serves as the site of the UF College of Medicine’s Hippocratic Award ceremony that is held each spring. The garden boasts a sycamore tree that is believed to be a cutting from the original tree located on the Greek Isle of Kos under which Hippocrates taught medicine, according to legend.
Lifestyle Garden and Track (2010)
A 60-meter accessible track made with joint friendly materials graces the southern edge of the gardens, quite near the UF Shands Medical Plaza and the Davis Cancer Pavilion. Built for a research project by the Institute on Aging to examine the effects of exercise on cognitive function in elderly adults, it now serves as a shady activity zone and gathering area for patients, staff, faculty and the public. The track, which is open year-around for all to use, encircles a lovely garden and patio replete with seating.
Garden Hub (2009)
A beautifully patterned brick paver hub that is reminiscent of a DNA helix and features an ever-changing seasonal garden bed links several of the gardens’ pathways, making the garden more accessible to those in wheelchairs and with mobility issues. The plantings are changed out multiple times a year.
Bromeliad Garden (2009)
The Bromeliad Garden is located along the north side of the gardens and features several varieties of this unique family of plants. Wilmot Botanical Gardens’ bromeliads were donated and planted by the local chapter of the Bromeliad Society.