The WeeCAIR Medicinal Garden

Where do medicines come from? Many medicines that are used today come from the active ingredients found in plants that would have been used in traditional herbal remedies. The well-known painkiller, aspirin comes from willow bark, and artemisinins the malaria treatment, comes from sweet wormwood.
We are creating a public garden with many of these types of plants. All the plants in the garden have an active ingredient which medicine is made from. Our garden shows the history of medicine as well as how plants today are still being researched to help create new medicines. Although we don’t focus primarily on natural products, many of our visiting students from disease-endemic countries do. Some of them work in identifying the active ingredients within native plants. Our garden will help to give an insight into the ground-breaking work that goes on within the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research and provide a beautiful spot for passers-by to enjoy and recharge and get inspired by. 

3D Image of Physic Garden
A 'Mock-Up' 3D image of what the Physic Garden may look like.


Our garden will be located outside of LifeSpace Gallery.  We hope that the garden will help bring this area of campus to life. It will increase awareness of the research going on and also the gallery too.
We hope the garden will provide a relatable starting point for people to understand how science affects everyone’s lives. We also hope it might spark an interest in finding out more about the science and how to grow your own herbal garden.
Our scientists will gain an opportunity to connect with communities. We’re hoping the garden will help them build relationships and learn from our communities and make new friends.


This is a joint project between the team within WCAIR and the University of Dundee Botanic Gardens. The Curator of the Botanic Gardens, Kevin Frediani is working closely with the WCAIR team.
Not only are we working with the Botanic Gardens but so many other links have been created across Dundee. We are excited to be working with Dundee Science Centre in their creation of their Sensory Garden. Many of the medicinal plants which will be going into our garden will be going into theirs too. Their garden will also feature more plants that have a sensory aspect to them such as their smell or feel.
We also were so pleased to be contacted by the Dundee Unesco City of Design team. They are creating pocket parks in the Stobswell area of Dundee. We will have two of the planters in these parks full of medicinal plants. We are excited for the garden to be spreading all over the city and for all these different communities to be able to find out more about the world of medicinal plants and about what is going on with WCAIR.
Sketch Illustration Mock up of the Physic Garden


We are delighted to have been able to be a part of different local festivals. Our researchers and experts who work on the garden have been joined by externals to chat about different aspects of their research and how the garden will help to educate others on what is going on inside our buildings. Check out our event recordings below.

HERbology and Health: Lady’s Mantle to Foxglove – Dundee Womens Festival

Did you miss our live event during Dundee Women’s Festival? Not to worry as we have uploaded it for you on YouTube!

Explore with our researchers and experts all about Medicinal Plants and how some plants have been used within researching different areas of women’s health.

We were delighted to have our own researcher Irene Hallyburton for this event joined by Clare Reany from the Dundee Botanic Gardens as well as Kate Robinson who is the Head Gardener at Hospitalfield Arbroath.

We had so many great questions however we were not able to answer them all in the time we had so if you watch the event and think of any please comment on the video or tweet us @WCAIRDundee.

The WeeCAIR Medicinal Garden – Dundee Science Festival

As part of the 2020 Dundee Science Festival, the Medicinal Garden Team held an online discussion event.

We had Irene Hallyburton and Kevin Frediani who work directly on the project and we also had Andrew Mtewa streaming live from Malawi who brought his expertise on natural products with medical values.

If you were hoping to come along but couldn’t make it. We will be putting the recording of the event on our Youtube Channel. This link will be linked here when made available. It will also be posted on our social media so to keep in the loop follow us by clicking the link below or following us on Twitter @WCAIRDundee.

Illustration by Hayley Wells - @hwillustrator.

Check out our downloadable activities!

For Dundee Women’s Festival, we developed some fun and simple activities available for all to enjoy! We’ve created colouring in sheets as well as a scavenger hunt and a word search.

Don’t forget to check out our garden library too where you can read the books suggested by our team. They used these books and websites to understand more about medicinal plants which impacted which ones those chose to put into our garden.