Sam W. Hitt Medicinal Plant Gardens

medicinal garden

This garden is a fitting tribute to the memory of Sam Hitt, an avid gardener himself, who served as Director of the Health Sciences Library from 1976-1986. The garden connects the library physically and thematically to the neighboring schools of health professions, by growing and displaying plants that have therapeutic uses. It complements the beauty of the library and invites guests and passers-by to stop for reflection or a closer look, and to enjoy the library both inside and out.

Creation of the Gardens

The garden space was originally designed by David Swanson of Swanson and Associates, Landscape Architecture, of Chapel Hill, who also recommended the plants included. However, the finished design you see today was done by Kathy Humphries of the University of North Carolina’s Facility Services, who is known by many in Chapel Hill as “The Book Fairy.” Garden preparation and plantings were done by UNC Facilities Services.

Location of the Gardens

The medicinal plant gardens are located:

Two sections in the front of the Library

Two sections in the rear of the Library

One section between HSL and the Koury Oral Health Sciences Building

Biology 217 and the GAEA Project

Beginning in the fall of 2015, students enrolled in Biology 217, The Physician’s Garden, took over responsibility for the Sam W. Hitt Medicinal Plant Gardens. The Physician’s Garden, a course designed and developed by Dr. Alan Jones, combines human cell biology with classical botany, elaborating the mode of action of plant metabolites in humans. Dr. Jones challenged the students to develop a plan to help maintain and preserve the garden. The students responded with the development of the UNC-CH student organization, The Gardening and Ethnobotany in Academia Project or The GAEA Project. The organization, with the help of future classes, and donors will continue to improve and maintain the Sam W. Hitt Medicinal Plant Gardens.

A new website has been created by the Biology 217 class with images from the garden. The site can be accessed at

Last modified: 04/15/20