As if a visit to Oxford, “city of dreaming spires”, isn’t reward enough, a day spent at the University of Oxford’s Botanic Garden (OBGHA) is an absolute delight.
Botanic gardens have an important role to play in plant conservation, with research, development, seed banks and education, contributing to preserving plant diversity. About 100,000 plants, more than a third of the world’s plant species, are facing extinction in the wild and Botanic Gardens worldwide have an important role to play in their preservation.
So it is an added bonus when they are aesthetically pleasing as well.
At Oxford, the Gardens are divided into the Lower Garden and the Walled Garden as well as seven glasshouses packed with treasures – 1200 different species from around the globe.
Inside the glasshouses, one moves from the humidity of a tropical jungle
to alpine and desert environments
Each glasshouse draws you onwards to explore its treasure, and it’s the variety of species and environments which is so exciting. There’s even an Insectivorous House for those intrigued by plants for which insect protein is an essential nutrient of growth – isn’t Nature amazing?
The glasshouses are easily ignored but are definitely worth a visit, in a lovely situation down by the river.
The Walled Gardens, outside, contain the scientific collections – medicinal plants, a National Plant Collection of Euphorbias (one of my favourites) and even a “1648 Collection” from the Catalogue of the Garden’s first director in 1648, with Alchemilla mollis, Epimediums and Tradescantia.
In the Lower Garden, lies a traditional English herbaceous border first laid out in 1946; notice how key plants are repeated along the border. Successional planting ensures flowering through spring and summer.
For me, the most interesting are the Merton Borders, which are being developed as an example of sustainable horticulture. 85% of the plants are being established by sowing seeds, with species selected from dry grassland communities so that they can withstand drought, with South African, Mediterranean and North American zones. They require no staking, fertiliser, nor irrigation …
and, in early summer, very pretty they look indeed, I’m sure you’ll agree?
Full information here : The University of Oxford Botanic Garden