Benjamin Rush Medicinal Plant Garden
History of the Garden
Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and colonial Philadelphia doctor and civic leader, helped found The College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1787. During his tenure, he urged College Fellows to maintain a medicinal garden as a natural and cooperative way to replenish their medicine chests.
The College finally took his advice in 1937 when it celebrated its 150th anniversary and established the Benjamin Rush Medicinal Plant Garden adjacent to the Mütter Museum. It contains more than sixty different kinds of herbs that have historical and sometimes contemporary medicinal value. Benches in the shade of a magnolia tree offer Museum visitors a pleasant spot to learn, enjoy, or just relax.
In summer 2011, our Junior Fellows planted a multicultural medicinal plant bed. They won first prize for a community children’s garden in the City Gardens Contest sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
Views from the Garden
Yes, you can take photos of our medicinal plant garden! Tag them on social media . Photos are not permitted in the main Museum galleries.
The White Garden
In the spring of 2019 we began to create a new ornamental garden here at the College. The old plantings were in need of a makeover. We decided to install a White Garden.
This was inspired by the work of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson at in England where, in the 1950’s, they created a masterpiece of White, Green, Grey, and Silver. Their garden was partly inspired by gardeners' curiosity—how can you create interest using shape and texture without color? And also by the fact that they took frequent nighttime walks and were delighted by the way that white flowers glowed in the moonlight.
Our White Garden garden now serves as a stunning backdrop to many of the weddings held here at the College, as well as a beautiful addition to our medicinal herb beds.
Volunteer in the Garden
Do you love the Mütter? Do you have a passion for botany?
If you answered, “Yes,” consider becoming a docent for the Benjamin Rush Medicinal Plant Garden! Garden docents are volunteers who help care for and maintain the Rush Garden, and provide presentations to Museum visitors about the garden.
Interested candidates can send a resume and cover letter to (use the subject line “Garden Docent Application”).