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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Rainy NLM Herb Garden Attracts Youngsters

Two children smile

At the NLM Herb Garden are Ana Hartman, age 9, and Alex Hartman, 6. Mom Laura works in the History of Medicine Division.


Who knew that medicinal herbs are such an attraction to children? Among the many activities during Take Your Child to Work Day, a visit to the National Library of Medicine Herb Garden was included. However, a mid-morning rain augured a damper on attendance at the outdoor plot. 

Much to the surprise of the Montgomery County Master Gardeners who were there to greet guests, children and their parents visited the garden in steady numbers throughout the morning into the early afternoon.

“Not only did our young visitors and their parents visit the garden, but many of them stayed quite a while asking questions of myself and the other Montgomery County Master Gardeners [Sandy Occhipinti, Selma DeLeon and Delore Leatora],” said Mary Musselman.  

The children asked which herbs might help soothe a tummy ache or treat a sore throat. Many of the youngsters were knowledgeable about the plants and their properties because they helped their parents create home gardens. In one instance, a teenager asked questions for nearly half an hour as rain poured around him. The teen said the Herb Garden was what he looked forward to most during his visit to NIH.

The Montgomery County Master Gardeners also set up a table with various dishes and asked their young visitors to guess which herbs flavored the food. “We estimate that the NLM Herb Garden had approximately 100 visitors during the day,” said Musselman.  

Musselman said she and her fellow gardeners were encouraged by the children’s interest in gardening and hoped their initial curiosity would endure through adulthood.—Judy Folkenberg

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