Oxford, beautiful home of the oldest university in the English speaking world, is also home to the oldest botanic garden in Britain. Founded as the Physic Garden in 1621 “to promote the furtherance of learning and to glorify nature” and for the study of medicinal plants, today the Oxford Botanic Garden still supports the university’s teaching programmes and research scientists. The most compact yet diverse collection of plants in the world, it is also a part of many plant conservation projects.
The gardens are welcoming and friendly, and there are benches everywhere inviting you to sit down and just drink in your surroundings. In fine weather, you will see plenty of people reading and eating their lunches in the sunshine.
There are three glasshouses, a rose garden, a gorgeous walled garden, a water garden and a rock garden, all set amongst some beautiful architecture. The walled garden features some of the most beautiful borders I have ever seen, and in the summer it is a riot of colour, full of bees and butterflies.
The glasshouses may appear small from the outside, but inside they are anything but. Containing thousands of plants, they are incredibly biologically diverse.
I adore the huge lily pads, big enough for a frog convention!
Even the hallways of the glasshouses are full of plants. You feel quite surrounded, almost as if you were in the jungle.
I find the dozens of medicinal gardens outside fascinating too. They are all divided into sections according to the medical conditions the plants are used to treat. Plaques explain the plants’ names and their uses. While the grass around the beds is beautifully manicured, you are positively encouraged to walk all the way around each bed. Every single plant in these gardens is comprehensively labelled and there isn’t a single sign asking you to keep off the grass.
The architecture in the gardens is fascinating too. The lead drain on this archway has the date 1780 inscribed on it.
A wonderful place to spend a few hours, or indeed a day, the Oxford Botanic Gardens are well worth a visit.
The gardens are open all year round. (Opening hours vary.) Day tickets are £4.50 and an annual pass costs £15.50. Entry is free for children accompanied by an adult. For more information, see the Oxford Botanic Gardens website.
This is not a sponsored post.