Re-opening of the Heber Youngken Jr. Medicinal Garden

The new College of Pharmacy Courtyard and the Heber Youngken Jr. Medicinal Garden, a fixture for more than 50 years at the University of Rhode Island, were opened and rededicated late spring outside the new pharmacy building, between Woodward and Tyler halls. Once virtually hidden from the larger community in its previous location outside Fogarty Hall, the garden offers a serene place for research and respite with its 200 medicinal plants, 500 ornamental plants, 9 birch trees, sodded areas, walkways, benches shaped in the form of birch leaves and a translucent sculptural frieze.

A stunning example of public space that draws on nature, science and art, the site is a central piece of the health and life sciences facilities in the north district of the Kingston Campus. The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts funded a portion of the project and joined the University for the opening of the courtyard and garden, which are named after the College of Pharmacy’s founding dean. Volunteers from the Friends of the Heber Youngken Jr. Medicinal Garden did much of the planting under the direction of Peter Morgan, senior gardener for the College of Pharmacy. Navindra Seeram, assistant professor of pharmacy and head of the Bioactive Botanical Research Laboratory at URI, oversees the garden.

“This garden takes the University and the College back to their roots as leaders in medicinal plant research around the world,” said Seeram, who is renowned internationally for his discoveries related to blueberries, pomegranates and pure maple syrup. “The rededication of this garden emphasizes the importance of plant-based remedies over the centuries and their important role in contemporary medicine. We are delighted that even the casual visitor will now be able to learn about medicinal plants and the work we do at URI to make society healthier.”