The Alexandra Botanic Garden contains many woody specimens organized in plant families, along with a series of small wetland habitats and meanders.

The garden begins at Paramecium Pond, the most prominent landmark in the Botanic Gardens, and a thriving spot for bird-watching, relaxing on the nearby bench, and observing the birches (Betula spp.), azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) , highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) and water lilies (Nymphaea odorata). A small brook feature known as the Silver Thread winds through the garden from a (dry as of 2021) waterfall at the east end of the campus, with several small ponds including along the main garden path. Notable trees include a Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioicus), Japanese weeping cherry (Prunus yedoensis 'Shindare yoshino'), tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) and some 300 year old white oaks (Quercus alba) that pre-date the founding of the college. Learn about some featured areas below.

Paramecium Pond

This favorite spot welcomes visitors into the Alexandra Botanic Gardens from College Road. The well-studied pond gets its name from the microbes that biology classes study. Many other forms of life can be found here too - turtles sunning on a log, a great blue heron fishing for lunch, red-winged blackbirds and grackles calling. Geology and environmental science classes stealthily monitor the temperature and quality of this constructed water body - look for a red ball floating in the pond! There's a lovely bench to rest and reflect.

Great Meadow & Wet Meadow

A cool season grass meadow, and a diverse wet meadow, are maintained near Paramecium Pond. These special habitats are biodiversity hot spots, attracting many pollinators, amphibians, and other critters. The meadows are mowed 1-2 times per year, using ecological, wildlife-friendly practices.

Maple Swamp

Just across the path from Paramecium Pond, this important wetland is home to beautiful red maples, silver maples, and many critters that thrive in a reliably wet habitat. You may spot wood ducks and mallards raising ducklings, or hear choruses of mating toads and frogs. Rain or drought changes the water level of this dynamic ecosystem!

Bog Garden

The Bog Garden, established in summer 2011, was hand-dug by an all-women crew of Wellesley College interns, faculty, and staff, in a naturaent to Paramecium Pond. The plants are in a mixture of native soil, peat and sand that has been laid in a perforated pond liner so that the soil retains water and drains slowly. During dry periods, the bog is watered so that it remains moist. Screens cover the Calopogon orchids to prevent rodents from digging them up and eating them. Other species in the garden include cranberry, sheep laurel, Labrador tea, nodding ladies tresses, yellow pitcher plants and purple pitcher plants. All of these native plants are well adapted to the wet, nutrient-poor conditions of a bog.

Molly’s Garden

Molly's Garden, named in memory of former Dean of Students Molly Campbell '60 and designed by her daughter Alison Campbell, is situated along the banks of the Silver Thread, near where it empties into Paramecium Pond. It is a spot of beauty throughout the growing season, from the first purple primroses in April through the last asters of October.

Olde Labyrinth

The labyrinth is located north of Paramecium Pond, in a quiet setting with views of nearby Molly's Garden and Galen Stone Tower. It was built in April 2017 by students in conjunction with the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, and made possible by the generosity of Laura Becker-Lewke ’77. The labyrinth is constructed of tree rounds and branches that have fallen on campus, and is lit by solar lanterns at night. In the center is a slab from a 130-foot beech tree planted by Wellesley College founder Henry Durant that blew down in a storm in 2016. Visitors are encouraged to quiet their minds and focus on walking the path that leads to the center of the labyrinth and then back out. Note: Over time, this labyrinth has been allowed to decompose back into the Earth. You can find the remnants, and nearby a new, accessible labyrinth was constructed just outside the Botanic Gardens, by Munger Meadow.

“A labyrinth is not the same as a maze, which has multiple entrances and exits as well as dead ends,” says Tiffany Steinwert, Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life. “In a labyrinth, there is only one 'door.' The path in gives you a chance to release the concerns you are carrying and focus on the present moment. When you come to the center you are invited to open yourself to receive insight from your journey. The walk out is about returning and integrating that wisdom and knowledge into your life.”


The child for whom this garden was named was the daughter of Cordenio and Mary Severance, a member of the college's Class of 1885. Alexandra died at the age of six, and her parents wished to memorialize her with a garden that would perpetually bear the little girl's name. Its beauty was to reflect Alexandra's own. In 1906, the Severances donated funds to establish the Alexandra Botanic Garden.