Any time of year, any place, rain or shine, I will always gravitate towards a botanical garden. They’re fun to photograph, and a dream to explore. Each one always has a unique layout or set of beautiful, scented or overgrown pathways to wander along.
The botanical gardens of Oxford are old, very old. In fact they are known to be one of the first scientific gardens in not only the UK, but the world. So they’ve had a lot of time to get things right and have gathered a huge amount of expertise in caring for and maintaining plants to the best possible standards.
The Important Bits
At only £5.45 (for an adult), the price is very reasonable, even for budgeting backpackers. It’s not the biggest botanical garden out there, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in variety, design and the sheer number of plants.
How to get to the Oxford Botanical Garden
If you’re here in the UK visiting London, either the Oxford Tube bus service or train is a great way to get to Oxford over hiring a car. If you are arriving by car though, parking can be a little limited in Oxford so the park and ride might be a less stressful alternative to finding a space in the centre!
Oxford is a beautiful city, so if you’re visiting from London consider staying overnight to explore the city too!
When is best to visit?
The gardens are open most of the year, apart from a short period of closure over Christmas and Boxing Day. Whilst the outdoor gardens will be most spectacular during the spring, summer and early autumn, the glasshouses look beautiful year round, and their warmth and humidity can be a welcome break from the bitter winter air!
The Walled Garden
Enclosed by a high stone wall, the Walled Garden is the oldest part of the site and is also where you will first emerge. Old roses climb the walls and beds of medicinal plants with a history of use in old remedies and some even being used in modern studies. There is still much we do not know about the hidden potential of some plants.
It’s the perfect place to stop with a picnic, with benches and plenty of space to lounge out on the grass underneath the trees with a book, as many locals who hold season ticktets do.
The Lower Garden
Wildflowers and annuals create overflowing borders that spill out onto pathways, on a warm day they’re buzzing with pollinators and full of texture and colour. With a small orchard and waterlily pond too, the lower garden has a quaint variety of features.
The river Cherwell also borders the edges of this garden, and with the shade of some large trees at the bank, it makes another perfect place to pause and take in the scenery. If you follow the path back along the river you’ll arrive at the glass houses, likely spotting other visitors punting in small boats across the river, attempting not to crash into one another.
The Glass Houses
Definitely a firm favourite of mine. There’s nothing quite like wandering through humid glasshouses, packed full of tropical plants from rainforest or desert biomes. If your obsessed with houseplants too, you’ll likely recognise a great number of them, from Alocasia to Aloes.
From ‘the Conservatory’, usually packed full of old English garden favourites like sunflowers and , to ‘the Cloud Forest’ and ‘Water Lily House’. Air plants tumble down from the roof, orchids dangle in the air and waterlilies coat the ponds, looking as at home and natural as they would in a billabong or Indian lake.
Do you have a favourite Botanical Garden? Oxford is definitely in my top 5…