Gardens to visit in Oxford, England

Old May 22nd, 2012, 07:21 PM
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Gardens to visit in Oxford, England

We are spending about 24 hours in Oxford toward the end of June. We've been there before, spending a few nights, but only went to the Botanical Gardens.

Are there any other gardens open to the public, or are there ways to get in to various colleges to see their gardens? Many thanks.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 11:22 PM
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Apart from some pretty bog-standard (by British standards, which of course by the standards of anywhere else means stellar) municipal parks, almost the only accessible gardens in Oxford routinely are in the colleges. (The University Parks are more interesting for cricket history than landscaping).

Many of the better gardens in private houses are very infrequently accessible through the National Gardens Scheme, or during the odd local festival, and it's always worth checking at http://www.dailyinfo.co.uk/ if there's anything on the day you're there.

From now to early October there are always several open air plays on in college gardens, and that can often be the best way of seeing some otherwise inaccessible places, or seeing them at times more convenient for you.

Pretty well all three dozen colleges have gardens, though most don't, or very rarely, allow public access to their Fellows' or Master's garden. Access arrangements vary massively (see http://www.ox.ac.uk/visitors_friends...ges/index.html).

This isn't my area of expertise. But I'd say start at Worcester (both free and with a terrific garden). St John's, Wadham and Magdalen (if you can get into the Fellows' Garden) are worthwhile. I'm unfamiliar with New College gardens, but its Ancient History Fellow is the Financial Times' gardening columnist and he doubles as the college's Garden Fellow, so they're probably worth visiting. Though there's a lot to be said for just meandering through any colleges that happen to be open and free: they all have different approaches to blending their architecture with plants - and the past decade's boom in new college buildings (almost completely undocumented in guide books) has created a lot of interesting new stone&greeenery vistas.

Christ Church, the most visited of colleges, is horticulturally useless, unless you can get into the Dean's (Christ Churchese foe "Master") private garden, which is both lovely and a setting for bits of the Alice books.
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 12:08 AM
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If you want to see formal gardens, I would suggest a trip to Blenheim palace. It takes about 25 minutes by bus from Oxford (you can easily catch a bus at the main bus station at Gloucester Green) and costs 5.20 pounds for a round trip. Much of the garden was initially designed by Capability Brown and the grounds are spectacular (plus you can see the palace). It is fairly expensive (20 pounds) but you can get a 3 pound discount from the TI in Oxford. Otherwise I agree that the gardens and walks through Magdalen college are very nice. Addison's walk (I think that's the name) takes you to the Fellows' garden. Cost is 5 pounds.
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 02:34 AM
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Blenheim - even if it is among the 6,342,751 English gardens in which Capability Brown had a hand - absorbs at least 4 hours: the buses run only every 30 mins, so on average 1.5 hrs is taken up getting there and back, and it's at least a 15 min hike from the bus stop to anything worth looking at. With only 24 hrs in the city, that seems an awful lot of time invested for spectacularly banal return.

That's in addition to the £11.50 it costs to get into the grounds (which are, if indistinguishable from any English municipal park, at least adequate - which is not quite how most sensible people would describe the tasteless monument to self-glorification those paying the extra to view the house's hideous interior get exposed to)
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 05:42 PM
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Thanks Flanner, and also thank you unjat. We have been to Blenheim, so won't go back this trip.
Luckily we have been to amny really great gardens in the UK, but are going to spend this time just in Oxford. An old friend from Teddington is meeting us there, so we want time with her, and will do some gardens together, have dinner, then breakfast next morning, before we head up to Cheshire for several days with very old friends there. We'll get to more gardens in Cheshire nodoubt, as we have done before.

Flanner your ideas will be very helpful, and I will share them with London friend to put together a great day, I'm sure.
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