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The University of Oxford Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in Britain and one of the oldest scientific gardens in the world. It was founded in 1621 as a physic garden growing plants for medicinal research. Before Edward I expelled England’s Jews in 1290, it had been Oxford’s Jewish cemetery (there is still a footpath today called Deadman’s Walk south of Merton College which probably marks the route from the synagogue where Christ Church is now, outside the city walls to the burial ground). Today, the Botanic Garden contains over 6,000 different plant species in 4 ½ acres adjacent to Merton Field and the River Cherwell. You can wander along paths between flowers and the river, where punts glide gently along. There are herbaceous borders, a rock garden, walled garden and glasshouses. In the lower garden is a bench where, in Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, the characters Will and Lyra meet between their respective worlds.
The University acquired Harcourt Arboretum in 1947, a 15 minute drive from Oxford. This contains some of the finest conifer collections in the UK set within 130 acres of historic picturesque landscape. Together, the Garden and Arboretum are an incredible resource for research, education, conservation and inspiration for botanists.
This is a growing listings directory – over 900 entries have been listed as of September 2021.
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