The Bobarts Group
The Bobarts Group, founded in 2004, is the Patrons’ group of the Friends. It gives those who wish to, the opportunity to contribute extra financial support to the Garden and Arboretum on a regular basis. Bobarts members enjoy all the benefits of being part of the Friends, plus a special programme of exclusive small group visits to private gardens. Members are also invited to an annual reception at which they meet personally the Director and Curators of the Garden and of Harcourt Arboretum, and to private views of art exhibitions at the Botanic Garden.
Members join the Bobarts for a number of reasons: one describes it as the chance “to support the Garden and Arboretum and especially their education programmes and their conservation and commitment to plant diversity. The visits to private gardens in small groups, accompanied by people with similar interests in gardens and gardening, are particularly enjoyable. Such groups do not overwhelm even the smaller gardens and the owners are particularly welcoming and hospitable.” Many Bobarts have forged new friendships through their membership; others are simply happy to give extra financial support to the Garden and Arboretum.
We have had a very good year so far. In March our visit to see the botanical art at Hunter House at Kew Gardens with Christopher Mills (Head of Library, Art and Archives) was quite fascinating. We viewed Hortus Eystettentis in Sebastian Schedel's Calendarium, Von Jacquin's work of 1785 on plants of North America, and the new acquisition of a Beatrix Potter watercolour. Later we visited the Shirley Sherwood gallery where we saw a selection of her botanical paintings, chosen to complement the wonderful exhibition of wood carvings by David Nash, an unexpected treat.
In April Liam Dolan, Oxford’s Sherardian Professor of Botany and Keeper of the Botanic Garden, gave us a guided tour of the spectacular gardens at Magdalen College in Oxford (right). Due to the poor weather there were just six fritillaries out but Liam is so knowledgeable about the history of the gardens and the well-established trees that we felt we had had a very special tutorial as we walked around. In May we visited Upton Grey, a Gertrude Jekyll designed garden which the current owner, Rosemary Wallinger, started restoring thirty years ago. It was fascinating to see the original designs in Jekyll’s own handwriting and to have a guided tour with the owner herself.
In June we visited a very private garden, Hardwick Hill, owned by a garden designer and botanical artist. Later in the month we were at the Coach House at Ampney Crucis, where an ornamental potager and cutting garden provide flowers and produce for the house, and then at Oxleaze Farm where we had a delightful tour of the more informal garden with vistas linking various rooms. In mid-July the Bobarts Day was at Harcourt Arboretum with Senior Curator Alison Foster, as we celebrated fifty years since the Arboretum became part of the Oxford Botanic Garden. In August we visited the gardens at Highgrove, the home of HRH The Prince of Wales, who is Patron of the Friends, and in September a very private garden, Tythrop Park near Thame. A trip to the RHS Lindley Library in London in October completed this year’s programme.
Please consider joining this patron group in 2013; members enjoy a variety of specially-arranged visits in small groups to gardens rarely open to the general public. You will also be invited to previews of art exhibitions being held at the Oxford Botanic Garden. For further information contact the Friends’ Administrator on 01865 286690 or download an application form by clicking here.