The Garden began in 1899 when paleontologist Othniel Marsh (Yale B.A. 1860) bequeathed his home, grounds, greenhouses and plant collections to the University. The botanical garden was designed by landscape architect Beatrix Farrand during the 1920s and 1930s as part of her design for the Yale campus. Today the Garden supports research and instruction, and is a public greenspace. Only remnants of Farrand's design remain, although restoration work has begun. The greenhouses contain a desert collection, an orchid room, an extensive collection of plants from tropical regions, and an insectivorous collection.
It has four collections including, the Tropical Collection, The Desert House, Carnivorous Plants and the Outdoors. There are four full-time employees and a part-time staff member. The manager is Eric Larson