This story is featured in the Spring 2020 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below HPU’s gardens contribute to the inspiring environment the university is known for.
Dr. Patrick Vigueira knows what he has with the nine plant collections, 28 gardens and the arboretum at High Point University.
He has the perfect place to help his students understand science.
Last fall, he taught a science inquiry class to sophomores in HPU’s Honor Scholars program, and he had them collect leaves from HPU’s magnolia tree collection.
In a fourth-floor lab in the Wanek School of Natural Sciences, they froze the leaves. Then, they crushed the leaves into a fine green powder using a mortar and pestle for a research project mapping the trees’ DNA sequence.
The lessons didn’t stop there. Vigueira, an assistant professor of biology, wanted to acclimate his students to science and show them the merits — and fun — of hands-on research.
The class surprised Madison Myers. She’s from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and through Vigueira’s class, she discovered the subtle richness of one of HPU’s biggest assets — the Mariana H. Qubein Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.
“I didn’t know the small details about the gardens until this class,” says Myers, an actuarial science and English writing major. “There is a reason for everything, and it made me realize HPU wanted to give back to us — the students.”
Mariana Qubein, HPU’s First Lady and creator of the gardens, couldn’t agree more.
“Nature is a classroom in its own way,” she says. “Students love being outside. It’s a change from being inside.”
Dr. Scott Raynor has also discovered that.
As chair of HPU’s art and graphic design department, Raynor has used the gardens to stimulate the creativity of his students in the most imaginative of ways.
Last fall, his students collected leaves and other detritus from the gardens so they could immerse themselves in a process first used when Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
It was for his printmaking class. He wanted them to create what he called “Bountiful Botanicals” and use improvisation to create a piece of art with a printing press. He wanted them to rely on instinct as well as their eye.
Priscilla Frasier was one of his students. She’s a senior from Greensboro, North Carolina, and she’ll graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in studio art and a minor in graphic design.
For Raynor’s printmaking class, she collected ferns from the Dr. E. Roy Epperson Garden beside the Hayworth Fine Arts Center and prickly leaves from a Hinoki Cypress tree shadowing the stairs at Couch Hall.
Then, with Raynor at her side, she created print after print and worked a press with a brake and something that looked like a ship’s wheel. At first, she got frustrated. But over time, she learned. She got it. What she created with blue and green oil paint was beautiful.
“I see it as a part of me, not a piece of art,” she says.
Patrick Moore, the gardens’ coordinator, understands. He grew up surrounded by plants, so plants are personal to him. He’ll be working in the gardens when he’ll see something, pull out his phone, take a photo and post it to Instagram.
People marvel. Moore knows why.
“I look at plants like they’re paint,” he says. “They can do so many great things.”