The editorial, “MUSC planting trees of life,” concerning the MUSC creation of a campus arboretum, was particularly insightful. Trees and plants are indeed healthful, as the editorialist noted.
The MUSC arboretum is a project that began in 2010 with the mission “to transform the university campus into a place of optimal healing and learning by creation of a landscape that invigorates, inspires and teaches through nature.”
In essence, patients, students and faculty — not to mention thousands of visitors each year to MUSC — can be uplifted by being in an urban arboretum that makes the sterile, institutional buildings less threatening. This takes careful planning and coordinated effort throughout the entire campus. Scientific literature shows that communing with a beautiful natural environment enhances healing.
A good example of the healing of plants and trees is the Pearlstein Garden of the Hollings Cancer Center, where patients and staff sit daily to absorb the beauty of what once was an urban eyesore.
The medicinal garden that is being created now will be enormously educational, as it will feature plants that have, through recorded history, been used as medicines, like foxglove from which digitalis comes. One of our dreams is to create a butterfly garden for the Children’s Hospital.
Complementing the educational activities of the university, the arboretum will have an inventory of all trees, history and national or regional origin with an emphasis on those trees that are native to the Lowcountry.
An abiding principle will be to have a great diversity of trees, so that when one walks throughout the campus there will be variety to spice up one’s life.
Tags with QR (quick response) codes will not only identify the trees, but will take those who have smart phones to a database that describes all aspects of the tree and will include seasonal images of each.
This is the educational mission of the arboretum.
People may wonder how in these financially difficult times MUSC can pursue what to some may appear as a peripheral mission at best.
In 2010, Dr. Ray Greenberg appointed an Arboretum Advisory Board comprising community leaders, faculty, students and staff. This board is accomplishing its mission through the generosity of philanthropists who understand the healing, educational and social value of trees in our urban landscape.
The board is also overseeing the charge to have MUSC apply for official Tree Campus USA status, hopefully by Arbor Day 2013. This recognition will prescribe how MUSC’s landscape attains world-class standing that blends nicely with cutting-edge medical care and outstanding physical facilities.
Charleston is a city known for its beautiful gardens and its tree-lined streets and parks. The MUSC Arboretum is designed to complement our city’s historic and cultural landscape, while enhancing patient care and the didactic mission at MUSC through the healing and educational benefits of nature.
Jerry Reves, M.D. Chair MUSC Arboretum Advisory Committee
Rutledge Avenue Charleston