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An inside look at the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden

An inside look at the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden


Oct. 7, 2015

Aside from being a quiet place of serenity at Michigan State University, the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden also serves as a training ground for those who want to learn more about plants ranging from poisonous to edible and everything else in between.

Assistant Curator Peter Carrington leads a number of the free public tours and said it’s a job he truly enjoys. “I’ve always loved to teach,” Carrington said. “I have 40 years as a teaching career in various venues already so the fun part is that I get to use some of that knowledge to make this place interesting.”

In addition, the garden also serves to identify certain toxic plants. “When the medical schools community and the regional poison control folks come here for training we try to focus on the 50 or so plants that are the most important in human toxicology and emergency medicine,” Carrington said. The curators are also on call with the Regional Poison Control Center to help identify plant toxins in emergency situations. 

Although fascinating and charming, the gardens often fall under the radar for most people in the community, Carrington explained. “It’s an amazing and wondrous part of the living universe that mostly goes underappreciated in civilization,” he said. “I’m happy to have a role in doing anything I can to counter that ‘under the radar-ness’ of all of these amazing creatures here.”

Tours are scheduled in advance and can be found here.