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Garden soon to be 'greenest' on Ole Miss campus

OXFORD — The Maynard W. Quimby Medicinal Plant Garden at the University of Mississippi will soon be the “greenest” facility on campus.

Operated by the School of Pharmacy for more than 40 years, the garden is being relocated from the Coy Waller Laboratory Complex on Hathorn Road to a new site on Intramural Road. When complete, the new six-acre site will include a 4,300-square-foot office and laboratory building, 4,200-square-foot horticulture building, 3,800-square-foot shade house, 1,800-square-foot greenhouse, 1,320-square-foot equipment shed and areas for growing medicinal plants outdoors.

Energy-efficient features of the new structures include natural lighting, a 20,000-gallon tank to collect rainwater running off the roofs and green “walls” of climbing medicinal plants for cooling.

“We can’t use tap water to germinate sensitive medicinal plant seeds for research, unless we remove the chemicals it contains, like chlorine and fluoride,” said Aruna Weerasooriya, a research scientist who manages the garden for UM’s National Center for Natural Products Research. “It is much better to use natural rainwater.”

The green walls of plants will surround the laboratory building and shade it in summer.

Even the garden’s parking lots are “green,” said Donald Stanford, NCNPR’s technical services manager. “They are paved with a pervious pavement that absorbs rainwater, rather than dispelling it, to prevent erosion.”

More than 270 mature trees have been saved at the site to not only minimize the environmental impact of construction but also provide a canopy for a park-like area in which to grow shade-loving medicinal plants, Weerasooriya said.

Other areas for growing plants outdoors include terraced gardens and a small natural pond for aquatic plants.

With all these features, architects expect the project to receive a high rating in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification program, which promotes environmental stewardship through innovative building design and eco-friendly construction practices.

Source: University of Mississippi

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