An exciting Internship funded by the Bangor Employability Award at Treborth Botanic Garden employed Emily Davies in 2018 to develop the interpretation signage for the new Two Dragons Chinese Medicinal Garden.
The employment started with the research of the medicinal uses and colloquial names of the botanical specimens planted in the new garden. Multiple online Chinese encyclopedias were translated and used to source information, including medicinal plant databases by the government and Universities of China. The properties of medicinal plants in china are described in a unique language format according to the parts of the body affected by the medication. The 'Four Humors', Hot, Warm, Cold and Cool, are categorisations used to describe the temperature effect of the application - often interpreted to represent inflammation, fever, astringents and constrictants. For example, 'Cool' herbs are used to treat 'hot' disease such as fevers. The 'Five Flavours', acrid, sweet, bitter, sour, and salty are used in reference to the Five Phases of therapeutic consequences. For example 'sweetness' properties are supplementing, harmonizing, and moistening for the body.
The information boards conveyed the research bilingually in Welsh and English, including the Latin binomial. Every illustration was hand painted using watercolour and gouache, from free lisence images and first accounts. In total, eight plants were selected to paint and create focused signage from the 120 specimens planted and researched. These eight were chosen due to the cultural or medicinal significance; Peony, Ginkgo, Artemisia, Rhodedendron, Black Bean, Ginger, Pinus Armandii and Tetrapanax. The signs provide visitors with an educational insight to how the plants have been used traditionally to treat disease, and how the plant categorisation language relates to modern medicine.
Adobe Illustrator was used to create both the signage and a brochure - to position text, logos, format and paintings - a level of photo manipulation proficiency was needed for the role. The brochure describes the motivation behind the Two Dragons Garden, the partnership between the Welsh and Chinese traditional medicine, and Bangor University's academic frienship with the International Confucius Institute. The brochure also serves as a companion to garden visits, detailing the traditional descriptions of plant language, and the design inspired by ancient gardens.
The internship provided invaluable experience working independantly towards a professional and visitor facing project. Within the Natural Science field, Treborth Botanical Garden is a unique and rich resource of knowledge and applications for fieldwork, practical skills and educational enrichment. Having the opportunity to be employed as a Biological Illustrator legitimised this career avenue, education is a key driver of continued conservation efforts worldwide, within horticulture and the wider environment.