Whilst historic buildings dominate the College, they are set amongst lawned Quads and gardens, full of colourful borders and a number of 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 simply relax.
The gardens are used for various events throughout the year including the College Ball and annual Garden Play, for which they form a delightful backdrop.
Find out more about the individual gardens and planted areas – and meet our Gardeners – in the menu below or visit our Univ Gardens Pinterest board.
Colourful bedding on either side of the central path accentuates the imposing façade of the Chapel and Hall to the south. In the late spring and early summer, Wisteria dominates the scene with its delicate blue blooms and heady scent.
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.
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 that fell in 2002.
The Bob Thomas Garden
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. 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 in contrast to the chocolate scent in Radcliffe Quad) 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.
Old 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.
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
Univ’s bee hives are located a short flight away in the Master’s Garden and the small garden to the south of the Old Library has been transformed into a bee friendly garden. The tranquil space is full of shrubs and trees that are advantageous for bees and other environmentally beneficial insects.
Meet the Univ Gardeners
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; he has been at the College since 2000, having previously worked in the University for 13 years. His main interests lie in herbaceous perennials and the use of heritage plants in modern displays. He is responsible for managing the gardens at both the College and Staverton Road sites.
The Assistant Gardener is Stuart Fouracre; he and Bruce are assisted by Univ’s two Apprentice Gardeners, Harry Rudman-Smith and Sam Ronaldson.