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Tour showcases lesser-known garden spots of MIT campus

The new courtyard garden between Buildings 4 and 6B.
The new courtyard garden between Buildings 4 and 6B.
Photo / Caleb Cochran

Although Killian Court and Kresge Oval are well-known green spaces at MIT, a closer look around the campus reveals many smaller gardens and courtyards that aren't so visible.

On May 15, Grounds Services hosted a garden walk that showcased some of these unique spots on campus. About 40 people attended the MITAC-sponsored event, which grounds supervisor Norm Magnuson called "a great success."

Among the highlights was a preview of a brand-new courtyard garden between Buildings 4 and 6. The space had been a run-down wasteland "with weeds up to here," grounds supervisor John Butts said, holding a hand about waist-high. Now the courtyard is a beautifully landscaped garden that will soon feature teak benches in addition to the new stone walkway and the array of plants and shrubs already in place. The garden is accessible from the basement levels of Buildings 4 or 6 in the main group.

Done-Right Landscaping, hired by the Department of Facilities to help create the courtyard, will install cement blocks in the patio area and replace any dead shrubs, as well as remulch the site.

"We're very impressed and extremely pleased by the addition of the new garden in the courtyard off of our laboratory office space," said Professor of Chemistry Keith A. Nelson. "These are the decisions that truly give our students a better quality of life while they're busy working in their labs."

Another space featured on the tour was the President's Court off Building 10, which includes a tree that "is a direct descendent of the tree under which Isaac Newton is said to have conceived the theory of gravity," according to the plaque at its base. Occasionally used for official MIT functions, it's a quiet and secluded spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the Infinite Corridor.

"I've been at MIT for almost 24 years and this garden walk was one of the best events I've ever attended here," said Olga Parkin of the Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health. "I look forward to enjoying these gardens in the future and now have a deeper appreciation of the work that's done by this fabulous team of grounds employees."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 6, 2001.

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