Botanic Garden at Smith College
The Botanic Garden of Smith College, Northampton MA
What is a botanical garden? A botanical garden is a collection of plants that are scientifically ordered and maintained, documented, and labeled, for public education, research, conservation, and enjoyment.
The mission of the Botanic Garden of Smith College is to foster education about the science, beauty, and importance of the plant kingdom through the use of outdoor and conservatory plant collections, gardens, displays, and exhibitions, and to preserve and maintain the historic Olmsted campus landscape.
The Botanic Garden of Smith College was founded over one hundred years ago by L. Clarke Seelye, the College’s first president, who expressed his hope that the whole campus could be developed as a botanic garden so that it might be of scientific as well as aesthetic value. The landscape architecture firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, of Central Park fame, was enlisted to create that plan.
Incorporating the study of plants into academics was an insightful idea in 1875, and it still is. The spirit of President Seelye’s concept has persisted at Smith College and remains basic to our purpose. Today the Botanic Garden serves as a living museum of plants native to New England and ecosystems all around the globe.
Today, the Botanic Garden includes thousands of plants, including those grown under glass in the Lyman Conservatory and outdoors in the campus arboretum — our landscape for learning — and various specialty gardens around campus. Additionally, there are 60,000 pressed specimens available for research in the herbarium.
Botanic Garden activities and collections include not only plants but also books and other resource materials (including our newsletter, Botanic Garden News), an international seed exchange, research and conservation, and diverse events. Yet the living plant specimens are the heart of the Botanic Garden and our bridge to the rest of the botanical world, past, present, and future.
For more information, call the Botanic Garden of Smith College at (413) 585-2740 or visit www.smith.edu/garden.
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