The herb garden serves as a living library on the Georgia Southern Armstrong campus

Throughout history, herbs and plants have been cultivated not only as savory foods, but also for medicinal purposes.

Greek and Roman scholars as early as 300 BC created volumes of works on these medicinal plants that inspired centuries of European physicians and apothecaries.

A new garden at Georgia Southern University Armstrong Campus serves as a physical tribute to those eras of herbalism with dozens of medicinal herbs, trees and shrubs.

Called the Physic Garden, it serves as a living library for students to learn about the healing properties of plants, many of which are still used today. It is part of the Armstrong Campus Arboretum.

“The plants we selected for this collection had to be able to grow in Savannah because many are native to Europe and have been used for medicinal purposes,” said Philip Schretter, field superintendent, on the Armstrong campus.

“We wanted these plants to be referenced as an important plant at some point in history,” he added.

The Physic Garden is open to the public and is located at the entrance to Ashmore Hall, which for many years served as the health professions college. Each factory has a unique QR code linking students to historical texts through a QR code phone app.

The idea first took shape in 2012 as a tribute to the Sibbald Physic Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland, planted by two doctors in 1670.

Work began last fall on new masonry, landscaping and planting to give the space in front of the hall a facelift. Although there are seedlings and saplings now, the area should be lush with herbal foliage in the spring.

Olive trees, rosemary, parsley, castor bean, laurel, butcher’s broom, pomegranates, horehound – each plant in the garden has played an important role in history, not only as something people would consume, but also for its healing properties .

“I always wondered which came first? Many of these herbs we know of in a culinary sense, but were they first used as food and later for medicine or vice versa? Schretter wondered.

Elizabeth Blackwell was a prolific botanist illustrator in Scotland whose work in the 18th century helped to spread herbalism overseas. She wrote about the healing properties of rosemary and praised the plant for how it “is good for ailments of the head and nerves, and strengthens sight and memory.”

His writings are one of four distinct herbal eras, the garden’s references which include texts on medicinal plants cultivated by the Greeks and Romans from 300 BC to 100 AD, European herbalists from the 16th and 17th centuries and modern herbalists of the 20th century and later. .

Like other arboretum gardens, each plant is specially labelled; however, in the Physic Garden, the tags also include a special QR code accessible with a free phone app.

The QR codes link to the academic writings of each plant and dig deeper into how they have played an important role in the history of medicine.

It’s a unique way to engage students and make learning fun, Schretter said, giving them deeper insight into plants and trees that have been studied for centuries, a search for knowledge that continues. today.

“There are a lot of important plants for which we don’t yet have synthetic substitutes,” Schretter added. “People have been using plants as medicines for a long time and we are still just discovering herbal medicines.”

If you are going to

What: physical garden

Where: entrance to Ashmore Hall, Armstrong Campus, Georgia Southern University

Hours: Open every day during the day.

Admission: Free to stroll in the garden


Identification: Each plant has a unique QR code linking students to historical texts through a phone app

Terri S. Tomasini