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Medicinal Plant Garden
source:Kunming Botanical Garden, KIB     author:David Sim Paterson     2012-05-15

The renovation and landscaping of the Medicinal Plant Garden occupied a considerable part of the year for the horticultural team. The planning of this major project commenced in 2010 and Tengyuan Design Institute worked closely with staff of KIB and KBG to produce a detailed landscape plan for the area. The plan included provision for the upgrading of many hard landscape features, particularly the footpaths, toilets, office and administration building, shade hall and pavilion. This work was carried out under contract by ******* Company.

On completion of the civil engineering works, the horticultural staff commenced a program of soft landscaping. This landscape project presented a number of unique opportunities and challenges, mostly relating to the specialist nature of the plant material incorporated within the design. The display of medicinal plants, many of which are ephemeral, annual, biennial or short-lived perennial, presented particular challenges, especially in relation to the aesthetic quality of the macro-landscape. To meet these challenges and to ensure that the plants were displayed in a relevant educational manner presented somewhat of a dichotomy. On the one hand, it was important to create a pleasing landscape that demonstrated connectivity within the space and, also the wider landscapes of the adjoining areas of the botanical garden. On the other hand, it was equally important to display the plants in a manner that demonstrated a breadth of knowledge about the medicinal uses of individual species and create interpretative opportunities to relay that information to our visitors. Both important functions were accommodated through the adoption of slightly different strategies for discreet spaces within the Medicinal Herb Garden. The peripheral areas were treated in a broader landscape sense and a more relaxed view was taken on the medicinal properties of individual species. Although all plants selected for the garden were, in the broader sense, medicinal plants, those of high landscape merit were propagated en-masse and used to create a pleasing yet relatively low maintenance feature which skirts the entire eastern boundary of the space. A similar approach was taken in the shady, semi-wild areas that occur on the northern extremity of the site.

A completely different approach was taken in the central areas of the garden and……..Guan Ja’s work can be used here to describe the complex medicinal interactions et cetera that were selected as part of the display policy for the medicinal herb garden. A few words should also be written about the ‘farm’ part of the MHG.

The Medical Herb Garden project was admired, during a visit to KBG, by an important group of directors of SE Asian botanic gardens. The adoption of the ‘sheet with emergent’ landscape treatment in the peripheral areas of the garden, combined with a more sophisticated interpretative approach for the interior space, resulted in interesting discussion and debate on the display policy for plants within botanic gardens. It is planned that more will be said about this important topic in future KBG annual reports.


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