Apothecary Garden

Apothecary Garden Drawing

Celebrating the Legacy of the Bringhurst
Apothecary and Drug Store

Rockwood Apothecary Garden in Honor of Dr. Jason L. Campbell

Located on the western end of the Rockwood Mansion within the historic gardens, The Rockwood Apothecary Garden in honor of Dr. Jason L. Campbell is the first addition to the Rockwood Historic Gardens since the dedication of the Rockwood Museum in 1976.

Considered a Sensory Garden, plants native to Delaware were carefully selected to provide sensory stimulation through scents and colors. A water feature made of basalt columns, like those found at the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, adds visual texture as well as sound to the landscape. The curving paths are wheelchair accessible, and the habitat is friendly for bees, birds, and all of the park’s creatures.

In addition to being beautiful, many of the plants in the Rockwood Apothecary Garden are used for medicinal purposes. Tours and programs in the garden highlight how these beneficial plants were used to make medicine.

The inspiration for the garden comes from the Bringhurst legacy in Delaware as the owners of the first pharmacy in Wilmington opened in 1793 by Dr. Joseph Bringhurst, MD, great-grandfather of Edward Bringhurst, Jr. the patriarch of the Bringhurst family who moved to Rockwood in 1894 and whose furnishing, clothing, paintings, and photographs are seen in the Rockwood Museum today.

Edward Bringhurst Jr.’s daughter, Elizabeth Bringhurst Galt-Smith lived for a time in County Antrim, Northern Ireland and even collected basalt columns from the Giant Causeway and brought them back to Rockwood upon her return in 1922. These stones, once displayed on South Lawn, are currently in collections storage.

The Rockwood Park is a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation and Rockwood is listed on the National Register for Historic Places.

The garden was designed and built through the coordinated efforts of DiSabatino Landscaping with support from Rockwood Horticulturist and Acting Park Director, Dena Kirk, staff member, Marina Rosaio-Roddy, and Rockwood Park Preservation Society.  

The History of the Bringhurst Pharmacy – One of the Region’s First

In 1793 Dr. Joseph Bringhurst, MD, moved his medical practice from Philadelphia to Wilmington, and established one of the region’s first drug stores at his residence located at what is now 317 Market Street in Wilmington. In 1802 Bringhurst is appointed postmaster of Wilmington by President Thomas Jefferson, a post he maintained throughout the Madison and first Monroe administrations, being succeeded by Nicholas Gilpin Williamson, Esq. in 1820. Throughout Bringhurst’s term as postmaster, the post office operated out of his home, medical practice, and drug store on Market Street. (Source: Thomas Jefferson letter discovered in the Rockwood Archives from The University of Delaware Archives website)

The pharmacy remained in the operation of Dr. Bringhurst and his family until eventually being operated by his son, Edward Bringhurst, Sr. and then passing to his grandsons Edward Bringhurst Jr. (patriarch of the Rockwood Bringhursts) and Ferris Bringhurst, as well as E. James Belt in 1859.

Ferris Bringhurst died on March 16, 1871 after an accident in the pharmacy's laboratory on March 11 of the same year. He was making a sample of oxygen for a planned lecture when it exploded causing fatal injuries. After his brother’s death, Edward Bringhurst, Jr. remained active with the pharmacy until 1876. Edward moved his family to Rockwood in 1892.

Ferris Bringhurst is credited as a founding member of the Delaware SPCA after he invited a group of friends to meet in his home on May 19, 1870 to discuss his concerns about the treatment of cattle at the Wilmington cattle yards. From these meetings, the Wilmington Fountain Society formed. At this first regular meeting, held March 6, 1871, Mr. Ferris Bringhurst, pharmacist, was elected President. He only served in this capacity for less than a week before his fatal accident. The Wilmington Fountain Society would eventually become the Delaware SPCA. (source: delSPCA.org, Our History)

Items originally from the Bringhurst Pharmacy in Wilmington can be seen today at the H.R. & W. Bringhurst Druggist and Chemist in the Village at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut. The Bringhurst collection was given to Mystic Seaport by Smith, Kline & French Laboratories, which acquired it following the discontinuance of the Bringhursts’ Wilmington, Delaware, store. (source: https://www.mysticseaport.org/locations/drugstore/ )

You will find a portrait of Ferris Bringhurst in the stair gallery in the museum, with three portraits of Edward Bringhurst, Jr. in the Dining Room along with many photographs throughout the museum. A portrait of Dr. Joseph Bringhurst, which once hung in the museum, is now in the possession of the Hargraves family, descendants of Edith Ferris Bringhurst Sellers. A monument dedicated to Ferris can be found along the Brandywine River in the Brandywine Park near the Rose Garden.

About Dr. Jason L. Campbell

Major Campbell was a B-17 pilot during World War II and the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross. After his active service, he and his wife, Bess, owned and operated the Port Penn Canning Co.

In 1956, Major Campbell graduated from Temple Medical School and established a 36-year medical practice in New Castle.  

Dr. Campbell was a lover of nature and outdoors, regularly enjoying walks through the gardens and trails at Rockwood Park.  His daughter, Peggy Campbell Alderson, gave the generous donation in his loving memory to create the Rockwood Apothecary Garden.  

Peggy Campbell Alderson is a founding member of the Rockwood Park and Preservation Society

Plants of the Apothecary Garden

Please note: the medicinal properties of these plants are provided for educational purposes only with no intention of suggesting a use, dose, or potential treatments. It is not recommended to use any of these plants for personal medical purposes. 

Allegheny Pachysandra

Allegheny Pachysandra 

Pachysandra procumbens

In Native American traditions, the roots of the pachysandra were used in herbal teas to treat inflammation and digestive issues.

Image credit: Blue Ridge Kitties, flickr. Creative Commons. 
American Holly

American Holly

Ilex opaca

In some native cultures the berries of the American holly are used as a laxative, emetic, and diuretic as well as children’s colic, indigestion, and other stomach issues. The leaves are used to make a tea to treat colds and measles.

Image credit: Derek Ramsey, Wikimedia. Creative Commons.  


Arrowwood Viburnum

Arrowwood Viburnum

Viburnum dentatum

In the 1800’s, the fruits of the Arrowwood Vibernum are used to make a tea to calm nerves. The branches and twigs of the plant were also used as conception method as well as the poultice was ground and applied to swollen legs of postpartum women.

Image credit: Kent McFarland, flickr. Creative Commons.
Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart

Dicentra, Lamprocapnos spectabilis

Native Americans used the roots of the Dicentra are considered an affective analgesic when ground and were used as a hot compress to aid in pain relief, applied to gums to numb teeth, and applied to dull the sting of insect bites. The roots were also used as a diuretic, to treat coughs, dizziness, skin disorders, as well as a treatment for hair loss. In fact, the Dicentra is considered highly toxic to humans and should be handled with extreme caution.

Image credit: Wuzur, Wikipedia. Creative Commons.
Cinnamon Fern

Cinnamon Fern

Osmundastrum cinnamomeum

Native American cultures a paste made of the roots was to apply to joints to treat rheumatism. The plant was boiled to create a Decoction and used as a remedy for headache, joint pain, colds, and chills.

Image credit: James St. John, flickr. Creative Commons.
False Indigo

False Indigo

Baptisia australis

Baptisia australis is still used in medicine today to treat infections as well as diphtheria, influenza, the common cold and other upper respiratory infections, lymph node infections, scarlet fever, malaria, and typhoid.

Image credit: Liz West, flickr. Creative Commons.
Flowering American Dogwood

Flowering American Dogwood

Cornus florida

The dogwood is still used in medicine today to treat fatigue, fever, headaches, and stomach issues. A tonic can be made from the flowers to increase strength and stimulate appetite.

Image credit: Photo (c) 2007 Derek Ramsey, Wikimedia. Creative Commons.
Highbush Blueberry

Highbush Blueberry

Vaccinium corymbosum

Blueberries are known to be potent antioxidants. They have been proven to reduce DNA damage that may help protect against cancer and aging. They are recommended by professionals to reduce bad cholesterol. Studies are being done to see if they may help prevent heart disease, cancer, lower blood pressure, and maintain brain function.

Image credit: Kingsbrae Garden, flickr. Creative Commons.


Iris germanica

The fresh root of the iris possesses emetic, cathartic, and diuretic properties. If given in large dosages it has been known 

to cause nausea and purging of the body. When mixed with other medicinal materials it have been used to treat bronchitis, chronic diarrhea, and dropsy.

Image credit: Alpsdake, Wikimedia. Creative Commons.

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel

Kalmia latifolia

The leaves of the mountain laurel have been used as a remedy for skin diseases and inflammation. The leaves are typically ground to make a paste for a disinfectant, analgesic, and sedative.

Image credit: Arx Fortis, Wikipedia. Creative Commons.


Lindera benzoin

Native Americans used the tea brewed from the bark as a blood purifier and to treat the common cold, anemia, rheumatism. Early European settlers brewed the twigs into a tea to treat fevers, colic, epilation of worms, and for typhoid fever.

Image Melissa McMasters, flickr. Creative Commons.
Swamp Azaleas

Swamp Azaleas

Rhododendron viscosum

Flowers from the swamp azalea can be used as an analgesic and anesthetic for relief from moderate to severe pain. Ground roots made into paste can be used as a treatment for arthritis, itch, rheumatism, and traumatic injuries.

Image credit: Mary Keim, flickr. Creative Commons.


Ilex verticillata

Elements from the whole plant has been used as an analgesic to treat fever, joint pain, lumbago, and arthritis. It was also used to treat pulmonary tuberculous. 

Image credit: Tom Potterfield, flickr. Creative Commons.

On July 16, 2019 the Board of Rockwood Park Preservation Society Inc. (501c3) approved a motion to accept the proposal from DiSabatino Landscaping for the installation of an Apothecary Garden at Rockwood Park. On July 1, 2019 the Master Plan for the Apothecary Garden was reviewed by the Historical Review Board and approved.

It is with extreme gratitude that RPPS accepted a donation on July 3, 2019 from the Board Secretary Peggy Alderson to honor her father Dr. Jason L. Campbell. To honor and recognize this unsolicited donation New Castle County will acknowledge it in the form of a name plate or paver.

The estimated cost of the Apothecary Garden will be $77,500.00. Preparation, development and installation will begin in September 2019 and most likely completed late October early November 2019.

By Executive Order 2018-10 all plants will be native to the state of Delaware. Also, the pathways will 5’ wide at all points using crushed stone as a base. Refer to the master plan for additional details. 

Provided by the Rockwood Park Preservation Society Inc., copy located in the Rockwood Director's Office, Rockwood Museum, Wilmington, Delaware 19809