This garden, located atop the stone wall across from the Visitor Center, is named for Wellesley College alumna and Professor of Botany Harriet Creighton '29 and is guided by her interest in the educational asset provided by the botanic gardens. A fieldstone wall supports the garden, and its bluestone stairway leads to the main planting area of the Botanic Gardens. The Educational Garden contains several types of plantings: dwarf and miniature conifers, rock garden plants, butterfly-attracting plants, and shade-tolerant plants. The garden is designed and maintained by landscape designer Mary Coyne, Professor Emerita in Biological Sciences at Wellesley College.
Specimen Conifer Collection
Over 50 dwarf and miniature conifers, chosen in consultation with the American Conifer Society, are planted in the garden. These are unusual cultivars representing many different genera and species. Corresponding wild type (typical) specimens of many of these species are found elsewhere in the Botanic Gardens. The garden is a reference garden of the American Conifer Society.
Plants adapted to rocky slopes are planted in multiples around rocks in the Creighton Educational Garden, providing an opportunity to study microclimatic influences of rocks on plants. Plants in this garden are slow-growing and diminutive to stay in scale with the rocks. The rock garden specimens are interplanted with the conifer collection.
The goal of this collection is to support butterflies known to occur in the vicinity of Wellesley, by providing host plants for their caterpillars as well as nectar plants generally suitable for butterflies. These plants are allowed to senesce naturally, to avoid disturbing any overwintering eggs or pupae. They are also allowed to spread and to seed in, although more aggressive species are thinned to maintain space for the full initial diversity of plants.
Educational Garden photos by Mary D. Coyne and David Sommers