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The Ecological Properties of the Mount Holyoke Gardens

Lions and Tigers and exotic species OH MY!!

A reception in the 1904 gardens in 1954. Courtesy of MHC Archives.

The 1904 Gardens. Courtesy of MHC Archives.


“The southern part of the present college gardens, near the rhododendrons, has not been dug up since Miss Shattuck laid it out.  The exotic plants which Miss Shattuck received from graduates and planted have probably died out for lack of re-fertilization."
- Conversation with Mr. Kinney April 6, 1935 (2)

The gardens have always been a major part of the beauty of the Mount Holyoke College campus.  As early as June of 1880, Miss Shattuck had a botanical garden. This was different from flowers that were planted around the grounds because its purpose was first and foremost for learning and its pleasing aesthetics were secondary to function.  The greenhouse was a gift of two alumni’s given to the Seminary and was completed on December 20, 1882.  In 1883 the botanical gardens were enlarged (16, 31)

“The Botanical Gardens have been enlarged in extent and has gathered to
itself flowers from all parts of the US as we have gathered these girls – flowers within our walls.” (31)

The 1904 gardens which are still present today next to the art building were finished in 1904 and have changed the least throughout the years. The have been a place of meeting and merriment as well as natural beauty and seclusion.  Today you can still find students doing homework or just enjoying the peace and quiet on sunny days.  The whole Mount Holyoke College Campus was named a botanical garden in 1991 through the hard work of horticulturist Ellen Shukis (13).

Ecological Implications: The gardens have created a diverse habitat on the Mount Holyoke campus but due to their size they don’t really influence the rest of the ecosystem.  Also, the gardens are to the utmost a created landscape with most of the flowers starting out their lives inside the green house and all plants being planned and specifically located for maximum aesthetic pleasure.  This means that the natural interactions that would take place in a field of flowers don't happen and this could possibly have negative consequences on the ecosystem as a whole.


Start a new journey:

2. The Ever-Changing Lakes

3. Disasters and Other Odd Occurances and Changes


Atlas Home Page Ecology Homepage Farmland The grounds of the Mount Holyoke Campus After the Fire - Grounds
This page was created by Molly Edson 2007 in History 283, Spring Semester 2006 -