Whilst historic buildings dominate the College, they are set amongst lawned Quads and gardens, full of colourful borders and a few mature trees. The gardens constantly change with plantings made to allow for a succession of colour and form, throughout the whole year, and provide a wonderful place to sit and study or just relax. The gardens are used for various events such as the College Ball and the annual Garden Show, for which they form a delightful backdrop.


The Bob Thomas Garden

When the gardens of the properties behind  the houses in Merton Street were formed into one. The garden is hemmed in by the back of the Examination Schools and the Merton Street properties and contains several unusual shrubs including another Azara (this time banana scented) and the water lily-like flowers of the brown flowered Calycanthus, the two year old stems of which can be used as a substitute for All Spice. Against the wall grows a Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’, the Banksian Rose which starts flowering in early May. The garden is named for Professor Bob Thomas, who was Univ’s Garden Master for several years and the mastermind behind the redesign of several parts of the garden.

Main Quad

Colourful bedding, on either side of the central path, accentuates the imposing façade of the Chapel and Hall. In the late spring and early summer, Wisteria dominates the scene with its delicate blue blooms and heady scent. 

The Master’s Garden

This private garden, which can be viewed from under the Azara as you leave the Radcliffe Quad, has been extensively redesigned in recent years. The only part of the original garden is the herbaceous border along the west side of the Lodgings and an established Magnolia in the lawn. The herbaceous border is a riot of colour from May through to October, starting the year with Iris and Geranium in bloom and ending with Asters and Penstemon, with the Geraniums being a presence throughout the summer months. Surrounding the Buttery is a large shrub border, containing both unusual and more common shrubs, including various Cornus and Viburnum species as well as the pineapple scented Cytissus battanderi; summer bulbs and tender plants add further colour. Within the lawn, there is a trio of Betula untilis var.jacquemontia (Himalayan Birch) planted to replace a Mulberry which fell in 2002.

Radcliffe Quad

Wisteria again comes to its own, together with several  less well known climbers, including the Akebia quinata (Chocolate Vine). An imposing Robinia pseudoaccacia offers welcome shade on the south side of the quad. Walking towards Logic Lane in the early spring, there is the intoxicating smell of chocolate (or some say vanilla) from Azara microphylla. Also, in this area, on the south side, a ‘White Garden’ is under development.

Library Courtyard

This sheltered area has an excellent microclimate ideal for a new Herb Garden that was planted in the summer of 2016. The herbs are used for cooking by the College kitchen.

Fellows’ Garden

Extensive herbaceous borders line the east and west sides, filling the garden with colour throughout the summer and autumn. The north end is dominated by a Liriodendron tulipfera (Tulip Tree), which is believed  to have been planted in the first years of the last century.

Bee Friendly Garden

The small garden to the south of the Library, is about to be transformed into a bee friendly garden., utilising shrubs and trees that are advantageous for bees and other beneficial insects. 




The Garden Department's main purpose is to maintain the College gardens and grounds to look as attractive as possible throughout the year; the department’s aim is to do this for the benefit of all College members, staff and visitors. The department seeks to provide a pleasant environment for study and relaxation (within the bounds of College regulations). We are also willing, where possible, to assist with any horticultural queries and to assist in the cultivation of plants growing in the rooms within college.

The gardens within College and at the Staverton Road site are usually managed by a team of three, the Head Gardener, an Assistant Gardener and Apprentice Gardeners.

The Head Gardener is Bruce Taylor. Bruce has been at the College since 2000, having previously worked in the University for 13 years. His main interests lie in herbaceous perennials and also the use of heritage plants in modern displays. He is responsible for managing the gardens at both the College and Staverton Road sites.

Head Gardener - Mr Bruce Taylor  E:

Assistant Gardener – Mr Stuart Fouracre E:   


To see more pictures from our wonderful gardens and for further information visit our Univ Gardens Pinterest board here.