Schools Out! Picnic Afternoon

Sat, 27/07/2013 - 1:00pm - 4:00pm
Botanic Garden


At the end of July we celebrated the end of the school year and the beginning of the summer holidays with a relaxing picnic afternoon here in the country's oldest botanic garden.  The weather forecasters predicted the worst, but we were lucky to enjoy sunshine and warmth for the entire afternoon.  We had a whole host of activities, from storytelling and singing to creative sketching and painting, and there were hot and cold refreshments available to keep everyone going!

Our family friendly craft actvities proved as popular as ever.  Our theme was summer and summer holidays, so families were encouraged to explore the geographic nature of our collection:

Step 1: Put your hand in the lucky dip pot to select a country.  (All the countries included in the lucky dip pot were favourite holiday destinations in both Europe and more tropical places further afield.)
Step 2: Explore the Garden, looking carefully at the plant labels to find a plant or which comes from that country.
Step 3: Sketch the whole plant or just your favourite part of it using pencil.
Step 4: Return to the family activities, and use colourful oil pastels to represent your chosen plant on our giant fabric banner.
Step 5: Once the banner is filled with oil pastel drawings, "wash" with paint to create a colourful background.

In addition to helping create 2 giant banners, families could also have a go at our sowing and growing activity, to plant radish and spinach seeds in homemade recycled newspaper pots.  There was also a trail around the Lower Garden.  We also launched our Wild Weather Book Competition!  A big thank you to all the volunteers who helped out on the day.

We were delighted to welcome local musician Nick Cope back to the Garden, to perform a whole host of his own songs.  There was plenty of opportunity to join in with the words and actions, and some of the audience members were definite fans.

For the first time we welcomed local author Zoe Greaves, who read from her latest book, and shared a range of other stories with us.

Hot and cold refreshments were kindly provided by the Friends of Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum, and ice creams were available from the G & D ice cream bicycle!

Here is a selection of some of our favourite photographs from the day:




Here are some of the comments left during the afternoon:

  • The whole family of five had a great day out, thank you!
  • We loved the activities - thank you for your warm welcome.  I particularly like the "hunting" activities because it gives me an opportunity to see the garden!  We will come back soon.
  • Lovely arty fun to keep 2 & 5 yr old happy.  Thank you.  Nice to have little bits for them to take home with them.


To have a go at making your own recycled newspaper pot and planting some spinach or radish seeds, follow these instructions.

If you'd like to see the trail of the Lower Garden, you can download it here.

A report from the School's Out Picnic can be downloaded here.