Oxford Botanic Garden

Oxford Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in Britain, with nearly 400 years of botanical history.

Today the Garden is home to over 5,000 different plant species, and combines world-class science, natural beauty, and 400 years of history in one space.

The Garden, together with Harcourt Arboretum, is focused on developing a vibrant research portfolio focusing on evolutionary genetics, speciation, and ex situ conservation. Researchers at the Garden and Arboretum work closely with the University of Oxford’s Department of Biology and partners further afield to produce world-class research, and a Public Engagement Programme ensures that this research reaches as wide an audience as possible.

Key Information

Wheelchair access: Yes, some glasshouses have tight corners which may not be suitable for all wheelchairs. Detailed access guide is available here.

Please note that the Cafe is seasonal and is open from Spring until Autumn.

Guided tours are available

All Group visits Must be booked

Click here for Directions, opening times and admission prices

To discover What’s On at the Botanic Garden

Partner site: Harcourt Arboretum, Nuneham Courtenay, OX44 9PX

WHAT TO SEE

IN SPRING:

The last of the snowdrops and aconites look lovely in the morning sunlight and you’ll find hellebores and crocuses. Inside the glasshouses you’ll find a whole host of wonderful sights and smells. Visit the Conservatory to see fragrant displays of citrus and hyacinth, as well as bougainvillaea and primula.

In the Lower Garden you’ll find a wide array of delicate daffodils and under the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) in the Walled Garden you’ll find spectacularly vibrant scilla.

 

IN SUMMER:

The Herbaceous Border, first established in 1946, is a classic example of the traditional English herbaceous border and features many plants you may see in a typical ‘cottage garden’. In the Water Lily House, the enormous Victoria cruziana dominates the space with its huge pie-tin shaped leaves. These leaves can grow to 2m wide and can support an infant’s weight.

The beautiful day-blooming Nymphaea × daubenyana can be found dotted around V. cruziana. This hybrid water lily was first propagated at the Botanic Garden in 1874. It was named in honour of Professor Daubeny, Keeper of the Garden from 1834 to 1867. The water lily theme continues into the Lower Garden where specimens such as Nymphaea ‘Amabilis’ brighten up the Rock Garden.

From spring to autumn, peaking in the summer months, the Merton Borders burst with colour and buzz with thousands of insects. An example of sustainable horticultural development, these stunning borders have minimal impact on the environment and require no artificial irrigation, staking or fertilisers.

 

IN AUTUMN:

Autumn brings vibrant colours and glasshouse wonders. The Autumn Border in the Lower Garden runs the length of the Garden’s boundary with Christ Church Meadow.

The planting is designed to be at its peak in September and October, relying on strong colour contrasts of both foliage and flowers. Special pruning techniques are employed on shrubs to promote large foliage, and on perennials to produce an extended flowering display.

During the autumn months the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) in the Walled Garden glows with a vivid brick-red colour, resembling a flaming torch. Known only in fossil records until the 1940s, the dawn redwood is often described as a ‘living fossil’. It is the only living member of the genus Metasequoia, although the fossil record shows us that it was distributed through North America and Eurasia up to 100 million years ago. Today, the dawn redwood is restricted to the border of two Chinese provinces and Chongqing in Central China, but it is a popular addition to many parks and gardens in Europe and America. Despite this, it is still internationally recognised as endangered.

The glasshouses are full of exciting oddities. In the Conservatory you can marvel at Citrus medica (‘Buddha’s Hand’).

 

IN WINTER:

In the Rainforest House you’ll find an assortment of tropical plants including cocoa, coffee, rubber, avocado, cinnamon, sugarcane, pineapple, papaya, ginger, cardamom, plantain, vanilla and many more. With no autumn or winter to halt growth, these plants grow at a phenomenal rate and are quite the spectacle. Some plants have enormous leaves which make the most of the available light, climbers race upwards in search of gaps in the canopy, whereas epiphytes perch high up in the canopy on the branches of other trees.

In the Plants that Changed the World display in the Lower Garden you’ll find beautiful willow-work sculptures of fruit and vegetables created by the talented horticultural team.

At first glance, the Merton Borders in the Lower Garden might seem untidy, but these sustainable borders are being left to die back naturally for a reason: they make a wonderful habitat for small birds and mammals throughout the winter — providing both shelter and a source of food. Look out for wrens, blue tits and blackbirds. When you look closely, what at first glance might seem dull is really a wonderful array of botanical shape and structure: the skeletons and scaffolding of summer’s glory.

In the Walled Garden visitors can find a number of seasonal beauties including Hamamelis mollis and Daphne Bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’.

Read more

INFORMATION

Address: Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 4AZ View map Phone: 01865 610 300 Length of visit: 1-2 hours
Dog friendly: No
Cafe: Yes
Car park: No
House open: No
House open - occasionally: No
Family friendly: Yes
Toilets: Yes
Wheelchair - majority: Yes

For information on opening times and to buy tickets: Click here

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