SPARTANBURG, S.C. – M.E. Eberhardt, a first-year Wofford College student from Athens, Ga., did not even know Hatcher Gardens existed before her Glorious Gardens Interim class arrived there to volunteer and take a tour of the property. Now she knows that the garden, located less than three miles from Wofford's campus, is free and open to the public 365 days a year, which makes it an ideal place to study or relax and take a break from studying.

"It's an awesome community resource," she says, "and since they don't charge admission, they rely on fundraising and local support to keep it going."

That's just one of the insights that Wofford students in the Interim have gained during the month of exploration and study.

Chemistry major Kaitlin Nakincheng, a junior from Spartanburg, has been surprised by how much chemistry is involved in gardening. "Fertilizers, the pH balance in soil — chemistry is everywhere in the garden," she says.

Zach Hunter, a first-year student from Aiken, S.C., has been impressed with the creativity and sustainability efforts that surround gardens.

Shey Washburn, a first-year student from Pfafftown, N.C., has spent her whole life gardening with her parents and grandparents. Still, she says, "I've been surprised by how little I really know about gardens."

According to Dr. Jeremy Henkel, assistant professor of philosophy, and Dr. Amy Sweitzer, associate professor of English, the class has considered a variety of topics, including front lawn garden wars, environmental impact, land use, aesthetics, garden design, cultural and spiritual implications, sensory gardens, and the role of gardens in civic and political life.

In addition to the trip to Hatcher Gardens, the class is visiting Brookgreen Gardens, Biltmore Estate, Edisto Memorial Gardens, Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden, the Wells Japanese Garden and Wofford's Goodall Environmental Studies Center, among other public and private gardens. Students in the course also are required to complete a variety of readings and a research project that they will share with the campus community at the end of the month.