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Green Bay Botanical Garden Conjures Some Harry Potter Magic - Jul 18, 2011

by Karrie Hartman, Green Bay Botanical Garden Intern & Harry Potter Enthusiast

Picking up a book from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series is one of the best ways to put a little magic in your life. Diving into her stories acquaints the reader with wizards, witches, spells, wands, mythical creatures, and surprisingly, plants!  Students who attend Hogwarts have the opportunity to discover how certain herbs and plants can be used in potions, draughts and even medicine. While we may not have the chance to attend a magical school for wizards, we can still take a cue from Professor Sprout’s herbology class! Magical or not, our everyday plants have practical uses in our lives.

According to the world of Harry Potter, herbology is the study of magical and mundane plants and fungi. Green Bay Botanical Garden is bringing a herbology course for Muggles (non-magical folk) to the Brown County Library starting July 25th through September 2nd. The Central library, located in downtown Green Bay, will be home to a traveling exhibit for 6 weeks where Muggles have the opportunity to see how Harry Potter’s wizarding world connects with our own. The exhibit, Harry Potter's World: Renaissance, Science, Magic, and Medicine, delves into the Renaissance traditions that are played out in the Harry Potter series, and explains their origins in our history.

To create a more informative, hands-on experience, GBBG will be supplying plants and extra information on Muggle and Magical uses for vegetation and herbs. After all, we may not need Fluxweed to sprinkle into a Polyjuice Potion, but we can make it into a juice to treat stomach ailments. Just as Harry uses ginger root, nettle, and daisy to conjure potions and draughts, we use the same ingredients to create teas and balms for medical use. Who knew we were potion-masters all along?

In addition to plants, GBBG will investigate the trees that help create a wizard’s most valuable tool; his wand. Just as Ollivander’s wand shop selects certain trees for certain wands, Muggles also evaluate the characteristics of trees for use in our own lives-whether it be for furniture, paper, or decoration. Being properly educated in our version of herbology allows us to use plants and trees to their full potential.

Since many of us revel in Harry Potter’s mythical world of magic and wizardry, it’s interesting to know we share more than we think. For centuries, both wizards and Muggles have found many uses for common plants. Whether your plants are gathered from the Forbidden Forest or your own backyard, they can be a great addition to our food, medicine, and health! Be sure to visit the Central branch library to check out the traveling exhibit and the plants that Green Bay Botanical Garden has provided. This magical experience is sure to please even the most skeptical of Muggles!

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