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Our Secret Garden

Tucked behind the museum’s original building is the Mercer Reeves Hubbard Medicinal Garden, named after an herbalist and founder of the garden. Designed by the late Elizabeth Lawrence, an author and landscape architect, the garden is patterned after a botanic garden in Padua, Italy, one of the oldest medicinal gardens still in use. Herbs with traditional medicinal value are planted in the beds each year. The garden is part of the museum tour in the spring and summer months.


Botanical medicine, or using parts of herbs for medicinal purposes, has a long tradition throughout recorded history. With herbal remedies, many factors such as the environment, harvesting season and processing techniques can influence their effectiveness and potency. The ability to isolate and modify the active ingredients from these plants happened relatively recently, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. This discovery allowed future scientists to derive and produce more reliable and reproducible agents and drugs.

Our Garden at 50 Years

Our medicinal garden is turning 50 this year and we’re celebrating! The Mercer Reeves Hubbard Medicinal Garden, named after a museum volunteer who helped organize and implement the garden, was created in 1971. The wagon wheel design drawn by famed North Carolina...


One of the prettiest flowers grown in the Country Doctor Museum’s medicinal garden is foxglove (Digitalis). The observations of the foxglove by William Withering, an 18th century English physician, elevated a traditional folk remedy to...

Garden Stalwarts

Museum staff were disappointed not to plant the museum’s medicinal garden this spring due to Coronavirus stay-at-home orders. However, we were pleasantly surprised to see how much of our garden grew back on its own, seemingly not needing our TLC! Our favorite hardy...

Founders Connection to Our Garden Kiosk

The medicinal garden’s information kiosk was erected in memory of one of the museum’s founders, Dr. Josephine E. Newell. Presented by Dr. Newell’s co-founder, Dr. Gloria Flippin Graham, the kiosk provides visitors with an overview of the garden design and planting guide. The kiosk was made possible by a donation from Dr. Graham. She contributed her earnings from the “2015 North Carolina Doctor of the Year” award by the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) who recognized Dr. Graham’s many contributions to the state of North Carolina.

Born in Durham, North Carolina, Dr. Graham grew up in Pilot Mountain, NC, where her father, Dr. James Meigs Flippin, practiced as a country doctor until he was well into his 90s. He inspired her to complete her undergraduate and medical degree at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. She specializes in the field of dermatology and has served on the faculty at UNC, Duke and Wake Forest University. Dr. Graham is a Dermatologist at Eastern Dermatology and Pathology in Morehead City, NC, and has practiced medicine for over 50 years. She states the physician’s relationship with the patient is what “makes you far richer” in life.

Dr. Josephine E. Newell (left) and Dr. Gloria Flipping Graham (right) celebrate at the museum’s dedication day, December 8, 1968.