By Charles Warner
UNION — The founders of the Piedmont Physic Garden have ambitious plans for the garden and they got some help in June and July in bringing those plans closer to fruition from two Clemson University students.
Located on four contiguous lots stretching from 301 E. South Street to 217 S. Mountain St. in Union, the Piedmont Physic Garden is inspired by the Chelsea Physic Garden, a small botanical garden located in London, England. The lots were donated by the families of Dr. and Mrs. Paul Switzer and the Honorable and Mrs. Jack Flynn and during the formal announcement of the garden, PPG Founder Toccoa W. Switzer said it is hoped the garden will become a resource for the community as well as a tourism destination that is pleasing to the spirit.
To achieve that goal, the Piedmont Physic Garden was established as a 501 (c) (3) organization whose mission is horticultural and environmental education for children, teens and adults in Union County and the surrounding Piedmont region of South Carolina. To provide those educational services, plans are for the garden to eventually include an apothecary garden that will feature plants with historical medicinal uses, many of them native to the Piedmont as well as the southern Appalachian corridor. In the long-term, the properties will be converted into a campus that will house several ornamental garden areas, and the existing homes used for housing interns and visiting faculty.
The achievement of those goals moved a step closer to reality when two Clemson University students spent June and July working as interns at the Piedmont Physic Garden.
Sara Louise Cromer, 21, a Biological Science major from Sumter, and Anna Scott, 19, a Plant and Environmental Science major from Lancaster, spent June and July working on a variety of projects designed to improve and enhance the garden as an educational facility. The two came to Union to work at the PPG after receiving an email at the university about summer internships at the garden.
“Back in the spring the College of Agriculture and Life Science sent an email out to relevant majors about the internship,” Scott said. “I liked the size of the Piedmont Physic Garden, it was a small, new organization and I felt I would get more hands on experience compared to a big botanical garden.”
Cromer said she got the email which she described as “really interesting to me” as it offered her the chance to do “the kind of research I wanted to do in my major. It was a really good opportunity to get hands on experience and be working with the plants.”
The internship began at the end of May with Cromer being first to arrive and Scott, who at the time was on a church mission to Uganda, arriving a week later.
In the weeks that followed, both interns were quite busy, working in the garden itself and on the Internet.
Scott said she and Cromer mapped out the garden and, with the help of Horticulturalist Billy McBee, identified all the plants in the garden. Cromer said they in turn researched each of the plants identified, their medicinal properties and uses.
The information the interns collected on the plants is now on small signs placed in front of each plant in the garden. Cromer and Scott said the information on each sign includes both the scientific and common names of the plants, the plant family they belong to and their medicinal uses. Each sign also has a number for each plant from a system Cromer and Scott said they designed which will enable those who study the garden and its plants in the future to keep track of them and keep them organized.
An example of the information on the signs is the one for what is commonly known as the “Blanket Flower” or Gaillardia Pulchella. It is a member of the Asteraceae family. The sign also states that historically the plant has been “used to treat upset stomachs, fever, skin sores.” It also includes the number (2015.05.01-2) assigned it by Cromer and Scott.
Cromer and Scott identified all 61 plants currently in the garden and provided the appropriate information for each plant’s sign which were made by Erwin Industries in Buffalo and then placed by the interns with each plant.
In addition to their work in the garden itself, Cromer and Scott have also been working to develop a PPG newsletter and establish an online database with information about the garden’s plants. Cromer and Scott have been aided in their work by Betsy Stefany, the founder and director of The Sabens Group, a New Hampshire-based consulting firm, who was in Union and worked with Cromer during the week before Scott arrived. Cromer and Scott said that in the weeks since then, they’d remained in contact with Stefany, who is now back in New Hampshire, via the Internet. They said they contact her once a week to hold discussions with Stefany who asks them questions to get them brainstorming about different marketing strategies and children’s programs they can implement.
Cromer and Scott said that Stefany is a “STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Literacy Coordinator who “makes the bridge between what is going on in the garden and technology.” They said that Stefany has been a “great resource to work with.”
Technology in the garden is also part of the work Cromer and Scott have done in the garden where they have installed three “Hobo Data Loggers” which record temperatures and light intensity during a two-month period over the summer solstice. The devices will provide information on how conditions in the garden change over time to see where certain plants can be planted and where it is more beneficial for them to flourish.
Cromer’s and Scott’s internships was scheduled to be completed by the end of July, but they said they plan to stay in contact with each other and the PPG in order to work on the debut of the newsletter.
“It’s been really enjoyable,” Cromer said of her time at the garden. “It’s a really great atmosphere and a really great family to work with.”
“It’s been a really positive learning experience, the hands on experience has been invaluable,” Scott said. “I learned a lot, not just in horticulture, but in business, marketing and in running a successful non-profit.”
For more information about the Piedmont Physic Garden, email [email protected] or call 864-427-2556.
The Piedmont Physic Garden can also be reached through its website (www.piedmontphysicgarden.org) as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or [email protected]
Sara Louise Cromer (left) and Anna Scott (right) spent June and July working as interns at the Piedmont Physic Garden in Union. The two Clemson University students spent the months working on a number of projects including identifying and collecting information on all 61 plants in the garden. The information gathered by the two and the numbering system they developed for keeping track of the plants, is now on signs placed in front of each plant and will be included in an online database they are developing for the PPG.
In addition to working in the garden itself, Clemson University students Sara Louise Cromer (left) and Anna Scott (right) spent their internships at the Piedmont Physic Garden working to develop a newsletter and an online database for the garden. Cromer and Scott interned at the Piedmont Physic Garden during June and July working on a number of projects designed to enhance the garden as an educational institution.
Among the projects Clemson University students Sara Louise Cromer and Anna Scott undertook during their June and July internship at the Piedmont Physic Garden was identifying and collecting information on the 61 different kinds of plants in the garden. The information was then put on signs which were then placed in front of each plant, with each sign listing the family and scientific and common names of each plant, their uses, and the number Cromer and Scott assigned each plant in the numbering system they developed.
This is one of the signs bearing the information collected by Piedmont Physic Garden interns Sara Louise Cromer and Anna Scott during their June and July internship at the garden. In the top left corner is the name of the family the plant belongs to and in the top right corner is the number assigned the plant in the numbering system developed by Cromer and Scott. The sign also features the scientific and common names of the plant and lists its uses.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or [email protected]