Wellesley College Botanic Gardens is free and open to the public.

Frequently asked questions

Admissions and tours are free for everyone.

The Outdoor Botanic Gardens are free and open to the public.

The 22-acre outdoor gardens are always open - year-round, every day, all day.

Visitor maps are available outside the WCBG Visitor Center. 

Enter at Paramecium Pond from College Road, or along Central Street.

The WCBG Visitor Center and Global Flora greenhouse are free and open to the public, during staffed hours.

The Visitor Center has wheelchair-accessible restrooms, water fountains, and a changing station.

The Global Flora greenhouse paths are wheelchair/stroller-accessible.

Visitor center & greenhouse open hours

June 9–Aug 25, 2024
Public hours (free & open to all): Sundays, 10 am–3 pm
Campus hours (swipe access): Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 am–4 pm

Closed on holidays and campus breaks, shown below:

2024 closure dates

Spring hours Jan. 30- April 30 (open Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays)
January: closed Jan 1-29 (Wintersession)
February: closed Feb 18 (President's Day holiday)
March: closed Mar 17-22 (Spring break)
April: closed April 14 (Patriot's Day/Boston Marathon weekend)

Summer hours May 1- Aug 30 (open Sundays only)
May: closed May 1-May 31 except for campus events (Senior week, Commencement, Reunion)
June: closed June 1-8
July: closed July 4
August: no closures

Fall hours Sept. 1- Dec. 31 (open Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays)
September: closed Sept 1 (Labor Day holiday)
November: closed Nov 27-30 (Thanksgiving break)
December: closed Dec. 11-31 (Winter break)

Please abide by all Wellesley College and botanic gardens visitor policies during your visit.

Botanic Gardens visitor policies

Greenhouse Guidelines
  • Please abide by all Global Flora visitor guidelines posted in the greenhouse, including no food/drinks inside the greenhouse (only allowed in the visitor center)
  • Please follow safety policies for visitors with young children posted in the greenhouse
  • Please follow photography and media guidelines described below
  • We may temporarily close facilities if we exceed maximum capacity, have reservations for class/event use, or for safety/maintenance needs
  • Registered service animals only are allowed inside the greenhouses; no other pets allowed inside. Many plants are toxic to pets if ingested.
  • Dogs must be leashed on campus (This is a campus-wide policy.)
  • Leashed dogs are welcome in the outdoor gardens. All dog waste, food, and other trash are carry-out only.
  • Pets and their humans must always stay on garden paths- please stay out of plant beds.
Campus Safety Requirements
  • All professional media, photography, and art inside the greenhouses requires reviewing the full guidelines here.
  • Professional media (especially use of a tripod) is NOT permitted without advanced notice and permission - sign and submit the guidelines linked above, and contact wcbgfriends@wellesley.edu with any questions.
  • Faculty, staff, and students: please contact Kristina Jones (kjones) to discuss class-related usage
  • The Botanic Gardens follows all Wellesley College policies, and we hold ourselves and all visitors accountable to a respectful and non-discriminatory code of conduct. We also abide by the Wellesley College Honor Code for students.
  • Please contribute to a welcoming, inclusive, and respectful environment for all. Harmful or discriminatory behavior from any individual or group will not be tolerated.

Find us by searching "WCBG Visitor Center" on Google Maps or "Wellesley College Science Center" on other map apps.

See Directions page for written directions. Downloadable maps here:

On-campus parking

Parking is free of charge on campus. Click here for a visitor parking map and directions.
Due to the limited parking near the Visitor Center, we encourage dropping off guests with any mobility difficulties at the Visitor Center, before parking at the Davis parking garage. There are 3 ADA/wheelchair-accessible spots near the Visitor Center.

  • Visitor parking is available at the Davis parking garage. This is the preferred all-day visitor parking area.
    If the parking gate is lowered at any time, use the buzzer at the gate to connect to Campus Safety; let them know you are visiting the Botanic Gardens, and they will let you in. Please plan for a 10-15 min walk from here to WCBG Visitor Center, with beautiful views of the campus and outdoor botanic gardens along the way!
  • There is 1 ADA/wheelchair accessible parking spot directly in front of the WCBG Visitor Center entrance. There are 5 parking spots along the Visitor Center driveway which we can reserve for tours/group visits.
  • There are 10 short-term visitor parking spots (2-hour limit) on the road leading to the Science Center North entrance, including 2 ADA/wheelchair accessible spots. These are for temporary visitor parking only, not all day use.
College parking guidelines

Walking directions from Davis garage to WCBG Visitor Center: From the Davis garage, walk along College Road, turn onto the paved path next to Paramecium Pond into the Botanic Gardens. (1) At bamboo arch on your right, enter the Edible Ecosystem. Continue up past the Science Center North entrance, toward the east side of the Science Center, and Visitor Center/greenhouses are ahead. (2) Or, continue on College Rd to Founders lot, cross path toward the Science Center (past Mozard Sculpture), continue up the road by Science loading dock (Global Flora is visible on the hill, to your left). Follow road to left, to the Visitor Center entrance.

Special event parking

We may reserve additional parking areas for Friends events/classes, including along the Visitor Center driveway, and in the lot next to Simpson health center (brick building on Science loading dock road). We can provide short-term event parking passes to place on your dashboard, available at the Visitor Center. Click here for event parking map and directions.

Additional parking

Town Parking is metered during business hours, and free on Sundays/holidays.

  • There are many 2-hour metered town parking spots/lots a short walk from the garden, along Central Street and Weston Rd.
  • Wellesley Square MBTA has a metered parking lot.

Due to limited parking, we recommend carpooling when possible, or using public transit (Wellesley Square MBTA station).

The Botanic Gardens offers free group visits and guided tours, for the campus and the public.

Book your visit

Please email your request to wcbg@wellesley.edu or call us at 781-283-3094, with the following information:

  • Your name & contact info (email or phone)
  • Your organization's name (if applicable)
  • Number of visitors (approximate #)
  • Date/time(s)
  • What you're requesting: Guided tour or self-guided visit? Greenhouse or outdoor gardens?
  • Request details: Help us best serve your group! Describe any particular interests for your visit, accessibility/accommodations requests, ages/grades, languages, etc.

We recommend carpooling, drop-off or shared transit when possible. We have very limited parking, especially on weekdays, due to ongoing construction at nearby Simpson Hall. Please let us know if you need accessible parking reserved nearby (up to 5 spots). We request a minimum of two weeks' notice to schedule a tour, group visit, or field trip, and schedule tours and reservations during staffed hours only, Sundays through Fridays, 9am - 5pm.

Learn more about reservations and tours here.

About tours

Greenhouse tours (Fall & Spring): A guided tour of the Global Flora greenhouse runs ~40 min-1 hour. You may request a shorter tour or introductory overview. We provide an accessible, interactive tour of greenhouse highlights for all ages/audiences, with a focus on unique plants and environments. Global Flora is wheelchair/stroller-accessible and has seating. Just outside the greenhouse, the Global Flora courtyard, Kitchen Garden, and the small Annex greenhouse are available to visit. Recommended in Fall, Spring, and early Summer.

Outdoor garden tours (Summer): Guided outdoor garden tours usually last 40 min - 1½ hours, and can focus on different garden areas or routes depending on seasonal highlights. Some routes may include uneven paths, slopes, and stairs, not suitable for all mobility needs (strollers, walkers, wheelchairs, etc.). We will work with your group to develop a route that is suitable. Recommended in summer, early Fall, and late Spring. Outdoor tour requests can include:

  • Edible Ecosystem Teaching Garden - This can be a shorter tour (20 min), highlighting edible local plants and experiments in this innovative small food forest garden. Summer, Fall, and late Spring are especially fruitful. Has a bench and stone seating.
  • Alexandra Botanic Gardens - includes Paramecium Pond, Maple Swamp, Molly's garden, meadows, ancient oaks and unique trees
  • Hunnewell Arboretum - naturalistic hills, woody and grassy areas including Azalea Hill, Arboretum Pool, Bird Refuge, with colorful spring blooms and autumn foliage.
  • Specialized Gardens - these Educational Gardens near the Visitor Center are readily accessible, featuring a pollinator garden, dwarf conifers, and Kitchen Garden

Small groups: For small groups or family/friends, we encourage visiting (without a reservation) during Visitor Center Open Hours, where our trained docents are available to answer questions. Maps are always available outside the Visitor Center.

Please contact accessibility@wellesley.edu for campus requests and contact us at wcbgfriends@wellesley.edu with questions. We are happy to assist with accommodations.

  • WCBG Visitor Center has two ADA/wheelchair-accessible all-gender restrooms, water fountains, and a baby changing station.
  • Global Flora greenhouse paths are all ADA/wheelchair accessible. There is a ramp alternative to the stairway in the back. We suggest avoiding thin heels due to metal grating in some paths.
  • Outdoor gardens include both ADA-accessible and inaccessible paths. Please be prepared for uneven terrain, a variety of path materials (grass, dirt, asphalt, metal grating), steps, and challenging conditions depending on weather, in some areas.
  • We recommend sturdy shoes when possible.

Please refer to our digital map for more options!

Recommended starting points

Botanic Gardens Visitor Center (including the Friends of Botanic Gardens office, and Creighton Room):

Search "WCBG Visitor Center" on Google Maps to find our visitor center, located by the East entrance of the Science Center. It is a small brick building with green doors and an arbor in front. Visit during open hours for informational materials, and our students/staff are available to answer questions.

Global Flora greenhouse:
The Global Flora front entrance is attached to the WCBG Visitor Center, to the right of the Visitor Center main door. Visit during our open hours, for year-round subtropical weather, water features, student exhibits, and plants from around the world!

Edible Ecosystem Teaching Garden (including Betsy's Outdoor Garden Classroom sitting stones area):

Search "Edible Ecosystem" on Google Maps to find the Edible Ecosystem Teaching Garden: note that walking directions to this garden are often inaccurate in Google maps. This garden is located just downslope of the Observatory building. Enter via the main gravel path (wheelchair accessible) from the sidewalk between the North entrance of the Science Center and Observatory/Whitin House, OR enter via the bamboo arch entrance using the asphalt path between Paramecium Pond and the Maple Swamp. The sitting stones in the Garden Classroom are a popular gathering spot!

Outdoor Gardens
The 22-acre outdoor Botanic Gardens encompasses the landscape from Paramecium Pond to the Ville, bordered by the Science Center on one side, and Route 135 on the other. It is divided into the Alexandra Botanic Garden and the Hunnewell Arboretum. Start at Paramecium Pond (or any other garden path entrance) for a self-guided tour along our main paths!

Teaching and Research Greenhouses (including the Teaching Lab, G-105):
Looking for your lab? The Teaching and Research Greenhouses (campus access only) entrance is the first double gray doors inside the East entrance of the Science Center (i.e. the Frost Center for the Environment). The double doors lead into the Headhouse (potting room area); the first 3 doors are research bays; the largest teaching / propagation house is on the right. The back door leads out into the Kitchen Garden (under construction).

What are some key areas of Wellesley College Botanic Gardens? Learn about our gardens.

Botanic Gardens Visitor Center

Search "WCBG Visitor Center" on Google Maps to find our visitor center, on the east side of the Science Center. It is a small brick building with green doors and an arbor, and includes the Creighton Room, botanical displays, free seed library, maps and other educational displays. Visit during our staffed open hours to ask questions, and use accessible restrooms/water fountains. This is the meeting point for most tours and programs.

Global Flora greenhouse
The Global Flora conservatory is attached to the WCBG Visitor Center. Visit during our open hours, for year-round subtropical weather, relaxing water features, student exhibits, and inspiring plants from around the world!

Edible Ecosystem Teaching Garden (including Betsy's Outdoor Garden Classroom)

This garden is located just downslope of the distinctive campus Observatory. Enter via the main gravel path (wheelchair accessible) from the sidewalk between the Science Center north entrance, or via the bamboo arch entrance from the main path between Paramecium Pond and the Maple Swamp. The sitting stones in the Garden Classroom are a popular gathering spot for classes and friends!

Alexandra Botanic Gardens & Hunnewell Arboretum
The 22-acre outdoor gardens encompasses the landscape from Paramecium Pond to the Wellesley Ville, bordered by the Science Center and Route 135. It is divided into the Alexandra Botanic Garden and the Hunnewell Arboretum. Start at any garden path entrance for a series of small ponds, meadows, knolls, woodlands, 300-year old oaks and unique temperate-climate trees from around the world. Look for beautiful blooms on Azalea Hill in May, and frogs and salamanders in the Arboretum's vernal pool.

Paramecium Pond & Maple Swamp

Take a moment at the Paramecium Pond bench to look out over picturesque, birch-lined pond, and spot basking turtles and herons. Look for the unique Maple Swamp habitat across the path, full of songbirds during bird migration seasons. A stunning golden larch turns colors in the Fall. An educational bog garden and cool season meadow add to the diverse habitats in this area.

More information is available at our gardens.

Search our Garden Explorer map database for Global Flora plants:

This currently includes select accessioned plants in Global Flora and the Edible Ecosystem.

There is additional information on Edible Ecosystem plants on our website, including a student-made interactive map of seasonable edible plants.

Search our outdoor gardens plant database:

Use this digital map and select plants or use the search feature to display details.

An tree and shrubs inventory of the outdoor Botanic Gardens was completed in Aug 2022, and is available in our digital map, or you may view it here in TreeKeeper.

Looking for Class Trees?

Class Trees are mapped on this interactive project from the Paulson Initiative, by Kristine Meader '21. Note that most class trees are not planted within the Botanic Gardens; please contact Wellesley Facilities - Grounds department for inquiries about specific class trees.

Please contact us with specific questions!

Please kindly note that we do not offer the following:

  • We do not accept plant donations from individuals. If you have a large plant or other special plants that you wish to donate to the Botanic Gardens, please be advised that we generally can't accept donations. You may still contact us (by phone or email) and we can try to redirect your inquiry. For small plants, we have a free "plant swap" drop-off area you may use, in The Annex greenhouse just outside of WCBG Visitor Center, which is open 24/7.
  • We do not host weddings at the garden. Sorry, we can't accommodate important celebrations such as weddings in the gardens. We recommend contacting other local gardens and parks, or the Wellesley College chapel.
  • General "plant help" and gardening questions. We will try to respond to your inquiry, but please note that we don't currently have a regularly monitored "help line" for general inquiries, due to limited staff. We suggest local groups for this service.

For everyone (public and Wellesley campus)
  • Visit us and bring your friends, family, classes, organizations, and communities - spread the word!
  • Follow us on Instagram
  • Subscribe for Botanic Gardens news
  • Make a gift any amount, including a recurring donation or bequest, to directly support our programs
  • Contact us with any questions!
For Wellesley College students, faculty and staff
  • Wellesley College students, faculty, and staff can reserve garden spaces (Global Flora, Teaching & Research greenhouses, Edible Ecosystem classroom, Creighton room, and more) for classes, orgs, departments/staff meetings, etc. We encourage you to request guided tours and course/research support with Botanic Gardens staff -contact us!

Wellesley College Botanic Gardens

Wellesley College Botanic Gardens
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Botanic Gardens staff