The Wellesley College Botanic Gardens (WCBG) include thousands of plants representing over 1,500 different taxa from more than 150 different plant families, a remarkably diverse collection for a college or university. The WCBG foster a progression from an instinctive affinity for plants, nature, and harmonious landscapes to a science-based understanding and appreciation of them. The botanical resources and the accumulating body of knowledge about them provide ever-increasing opportunities for teaching and research at the College.
Throughout their history the WCBG have emphasized educational value, primarily via the impressively diverse plant collections. Now there is also a sharpened focus on a fundamental role of plants in nature and in culture: as food. Priority for addition to the outdoor plant collections is based in part on a plant’s food value for native birds, insects, and other animals, and the gardens are maintained with minimal disruption of ecological interactions among native species. The Global Flora Collection at the Margaret C. Ferguson Greenhouses has a focus on plant form, facilitating explorations of plant adaptation.