Since its founding in 1895, the Botanic Garden of Smith College has been devoted to teaching, public education, scientific research, and beauty. Smith’s first president, L. Clarke Seelye, believed in science education for women. From the start he envisioned the Smith campus as a botanic garden. The meadow, orchard, and pasture sloping down to Paradise Pond became the beautiful landscape that continues to be an integral part of the College’s life and curriculum.

William Francis Ganong, the first director, helped the Botanic Garden take shape with the establishment of the Systematics Garden, the expansion of the Lyman Plant House, the creation of the Rock Garden, and the enlargement of the Campus Arboretum. From 1937 to 1971, William I. P. Campbell put his mark on the landscape, leaving a legacy of exceptional plantings. Over the past 35 years additional improvements have included two conservatory additions and renovations, the most recent completed in 2003; two taxonomic restructuring of the Systematics Garden, the most recent completed in 2015; and a major renovation of Capen Garden in 2004. Moving into the twenty-first century, we continue the promise to nurture and enrich all who set forth in the Garden.


For over 100 years, the Botanic Garden has served generations of students and visitors as a place of engagement, wonder, and learning.