Several NUHS students, faculty, alumni and family gathered on Saturday to revitalize the on-campus botanical garden in preparation for the upcoming summer season.
Members of the Naturopathic Medical Student Association (NMSA) along with other participants, removed weeds, prepared the soil and labeled the plant varieties. Because of the heavy rainfall recently, naturopathic medicine faculty member Lorinda Sorensen, ND, MSAc, who oversees the garden, expects some of the perennial plants to begin sprouting soon. Students will also plant a few annual seeds including holy basil, Calendula and Hibiscus.
“The goal is to have the garden in full bloom by mid-summer, which is also the time when National University welcomes back its alumni at Homecoming,” Dr. Sorensen said.
Over the summer, students are encouraged to have work parties every 1-2 weeks. Duties include weeding and plenty of watering so the plants stay healthy and hydrated. For the first time, NUHS will also be creating a work study position to help organize the garden events.
Though none of the herbs are used to make tinctures or treatments for patients, the garden gives students the chance to interact with the herbs rather than just reading about them in textbooks. “The garden allows students to explore botanicals more in depth,” Dr. Sorensen said. “Students also learn how to identify different botanicals through sight, smell and touch.”
Since the garden started in 2010, it has doubled in size and boasts over 60 different botanicals. Some of the herbs in the garden include St. John’s wort, peppermint, marshmallow, lemon balm, lavender and licorice. When the herbs are harvested, students generally use them to practice making their own remedies.
“A relaxing cordial made up of a unique herbal blend was very popular a few years ago,” Dr. Sorensen reminisced. “We used ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and valerian (Valeriana officinalis) from the garden along with dried tart cherries, lavender and vanilla.”
The garden has its own Facebook page, where Dr. Sorensen and students plan garden work parties or post photos of favorite medicinal herbs.
As the students continue to work on the garden, they are also seeking donations of garden tools, gloves, landscaping fabric, etc. To donate items, contact Dr. Sorensen at [email protected].