URI’s Pharmacy gardeners to showcase medicinal plants

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21st annual Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden show in Providence from Feb. 20 through Feb. 23

KINGSTON, R.I. – February 18, 2014 – Most people don’t know that the University of Rhode Island’s beautiful Heber W. Youngken Jr. Medicinal Plant Garden located in the College of Pharmacy quad was brought to life with the help and hard work of a team of four volunteers with a mutual love of gardening and horticulture, and head gardener, J.Peter Morgan.

The team will show some fruits of their labor at the 21st annual Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence. The show runs from Thursday, Feb. 20 through Sunday, Feb. 23 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (and 6 p.m. on Sunday).

Professor and associate Dean of Pharmacy Emerita Joan Lausier and Amey Larrat, the wife of Dean Paul Larrat of Pharmacy, both Master Gardeners, have worked alongside Robin Rodgers, the wife of a faculty member, and pharmacy students Roman Zaets and Bill Seguin to plant, maintain and tend to the more than 1,000 plants of 250 different species in the garden.

“They helped me a lot. I wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of things on time if it weren’t for them,” said Morgan. “They’d transport plants from the greenhouse to indoors and help with the designing and display for the flower show.”

Now, these volunteers are digging in to support URI’s entry into the garden show. Running with the show’s “Vintage” theme, Morgan added his own flare with samples of many herbs that Saint Hildegard used in rebalancing healing treatments.

Hildegard was a holistic healer who reported to have holy visions throughout her life, which led her to believe in a connection between spirituality, the arts, and medicine. She regularly used herbs, waters, precious stones, and minerals in her healing process to bring the body back to a balanced state. Many of her techniques are familiar to us today and are still used in holistic healing.

One of the most unique aspects of the display is the mural that will be used as a garden backdrop. The mural is a depiction of a convent in which Hildegard might have lived. Self-sustainability at this time was critical, so gardens of vegetables and fruits and domestic animals were necessary. Hildegard would also have medicinal gardens and treatment areas for the sick, which are also depicted in the mural. Convents had locals help with the heavy labor, so workers can be seen throughout the mural.

“We work as a team in all our gardening activities, so we thought it would be an interesting challenge to try the mural for our flower show since only one of us had any formal training in art,” said Lausier. “The support we get and give to one another in this project is wonderful and we often lose track of time.”

This release was written by Sabrina Galiney, a URI Marketing and Communications intern and Public Relations major.

Pictured above

Head gardener J.Peter Morgan of North Kingstown, and volunteers from left Amey Larrat of Saunderstown, Robin Rodgers of Jamestown, Joan Lausier of South Kingstown, and Bill Seguin of South Kingstown pose while painting the Saint Hildegard inspired mural for the garden backdrop. Photo courtesy of J.Peter Morgan.

Professor and associate Dean of Pharmacy Emerita Joan Lausier of North Kingstown works last spring in preparation for the opening of the Heber W. Youngken Jr. Medicinal Plant Garden at URI. URI photo by Nora Lewis.