Wellesley College Botanic Gardens was established nearly a century ago, in 1925, to be "a center of interest to all".
The Botanic Gardens embodies this mission with core values of education, innovation, and sense of belonging.
Wellesley College Botanic Gardens serves as an educational public garden, a resource for connecting with plants and demonstrating ecological practices, and an accessible space for building community, wellness, and a sense of belonging. These educational gardens are shaped by the innovative, interdisciplinary engagement of students, staff, faculty, alums, community partners, and the wider public. We welcome all visitors, and seek to center environmental justice, sustainability, climate resilience, accessibility, and a sense of belonging in our gardens, exhibits, and programs. We care for the plants, gardens and landscapes using mindful practices that exemplify respect for the environment and all beings who call this place home. These guiding principles follow Wellesley College's strategic plan, which aims to center our commitment to inclusive excellence as a transformative force in education.
Our dynamic Botanic Gardens team of staff and students keep our diverse gardens, habitats, and landscapes flourishing, and support teaching, research, and community use of the botanic gardens. Additionally, the Friends of Botanic Gardens enables us to support public visitors, volunteers, and broader enjoyment of the gardens. Together, our staff, students, volunteers, and supporters enable our mission of serving as a welcoming educational garden for everyone.
About the Gardens
The landscapes, plants, and gardens hold stories that go back millenia, and continue to unfold! Explore some of these stories below, and let us know if you'd like to contribute a story.
- During the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, the movement of glaciers formed hills and valleys of campus, which now include some of the knolls (eskers) and low wetlands of the botanic gardens
- Humans lived in this area for millenia. Descendents include the Massachusett, Wampanoag, and Nipmuc nations. The understanding of plants and land practices we use today are rooted in Indigenous science, in addition to contributions of many groups whose stories are under-recognized in our existing materials. We are working with local partners to develop resources and exhibits to highlight these contributions.
- In 1875, the Durants found Wellesley College as a liberal arts college for women, and emphasize the importance of botanical education and connection with outdoor landscapes, by maintaining the glaciated landscapes, in contrast to the flattened landscapes of all-male universities of the time
- Margaret C. Ferguson shares a vision of Botany at Wellesley
- Wellesley's Women of Botany carry on a legacy of centering plants at Wellesley
- The Paulson Ecology of Place Initiative launches to enhance sense of belonging in the campus landscape
- The Global Flora conservatory is envisioned, and built in 2019, right before the global Covid-19 pandemic
- The new Science Center includes state of the art teaching and research greenhouses, adjacent to the new Global Flora
- The Frost Center for the Environment launches, to provide a hub for all to connect with environmental action
- Botany and Empire, an exhibit by ES244 students led by Prof. Ashanti Shih, shares the diverse stories of plants represented in Global Flora