Support us, join the Friends

Who are the Friends?

To join the Friends, click here.

The Friends were established in 1991 to give extra support to the Garden and Arboretum’s work, and to increase links between staff and visitors. It has been a great success, raising over £1.5 million through membership fees and events, and offering members a very popular programme of garden visits, tours, concerts and receptions, volunteering opportunities and other benefits (click here to see a full list of member benefits).

The Garden and Arboretum have very exciting plans for their collections, facilities, education programmes and scientific and environmental work. The Friends are always increasing their efforts to help make these plans possible. These pages report on how we support the Garden and Arboretum, and on our programme of events.

Timothy Walker, Director of the Garden & Arboretum

Director of the Garden and Arboretum, Timothy Walker says:

"Without the support of the Friends, which now amounts to almost 10% of our annual budget, we simply could not exist as we do........"


Patron:  HRH The Prince of Wales

President:  Lord Patten of Barnes

Vice Presidents:  Lawrence Banks, Robin Herbert, Lady Lapthorne, Sir Ghillean Prance, Sir Crispin Tickell, The President of Magdalen College, The Dean of Christ Church.

Directors and Trustees:  Richard Mayou (Chairman), Anna Nasmyth (Secretary), Hemlata Bountra (Treasurer), Jane Annett, Mary Isaac, Sarah Taylor, Jennie Turner and Timothy Walker.

Forum:  Directors plus: Maura Allen, Harriet Bretherton, Pauline Coombes, Seonaid Danziger, Crystal Dobson, Jeanne Gurr, Rebecca Mather, Carol Maxwell, Sally Orriss and Helen Potts.

Administrator:  Liz Woolley

To join the Friends, click here.


Changes to membership benefits

New! Free entry to the Chelsea Physic Garden in London

From 1st April 2014 members of the Friends can visit the Chelsea Physic Garden for free. Just present your FOBGHA membership card at the entrance. Please see the article on page 8 of the latest Friends' newsletter for more information about this fascinating and beautiful garden in the heart of London.


Bring a companion to the Garden and Arboretum for free in April!

We know that one of our best sources of new members is recommendation from existing Friends. So to encourage more of your friends to join us, we are inviting you to bring a companion to the Garden or Arboretum for free every day in April 2014. We hope your companion(s) will sign up to become members of the Friends of the Garden & Arboretum, and if they do, you will receive a £5 voucher as a ‘thank you’, to be redeemed against tickets for Friends’ events and visits, or the Garden and Arboretum’s Public Education Programme. Just ask at the Ticket Offices when you come in.


The annual seed collection

It’s been decided, after much discussion, that sadly the Garden can no longer distribute seeds to Friends. This is because more and more we source material whose origin is known, either directly from the wild or via partner institutions across the world. Increasing the proportion of material of known origin allows our living collections to be used more widely for plant conservation and research. However, the acquisition of such seed is subject to permits and international agreements, and unfortunately these restrict the further distribution of the material to third parties.

We found that fewer and fewer Friends were applying for seeds, but we realise that for those that still did, this will be a disappointment, for which we apologise.


Friends' news

By Richard Mayou, Chairman of the Friends

Thanks to hard work by many members and close collaboration with Garden and Arboretum staff, 2013 was another terrific year for our fundraising. The 50th anniversary party at Harcourt Arboretum raised £30,000; the New College opera was sold out and yet again gained sponsorship; and the Winter Light event over three evenings made a handsome profit and is likely to become a bigger and better, and regular, Christmas celebration at the Garden. Other Friends’ initiatives included the highly successful volunteer programme at both the Garden and the Arboretum, and regular teas served to visitors to the Arboretum. We are very grateful for input from all the Friends and we hope that you will support our exciting 2014 programme of events and visits.



A million pounds to support the 400th anniversary campaign

Several major projects have been completed at the Garden and Arboretum in recent years, and the staff and the University, with the aid of a distinguished Review Panel, are planning the next stage of a highly ambitious strategy for the period from now until the celebration of the Garden’s 400th anniversary in 2021. This will ensure that the Garden and Arboretum are in superb shape as attractions for visitors, and that botanical research at Oxford is playing the important scientific and educational roles that are appropriate for Britain’s oldest botanic garden and a top-ranking international university.

The Friends will be able to do a great deal to help and we have pledged our support. We have £300,000 to allocate now and forecasts show that we should, even without further bequests, donations or appeals, be able to donate around £1,000,000 in the run up to 2021. This will in part provide match funding for major strategic projects, most immediately the replanting of the Walled Garden and the establishment of a propagation unit at the Arboretum.

The Walled Garden (right, on David Logan’s map of 1675) was Lord Danby’s original 17th century vision and its design has been revised several times due to developments in botanical classification and horticulture. It now needs another redevelopment to reflect current classification based on recent genetic research, to increase diversity as a basis for teaching, research and conservation, and to increase ornamental interest for visitors. The sixty turf-edged beds need re-cutting and edging with metal. It will be complicated and demanding to plan, source plants and to carry out the work over several years and it will cost around £200,000. The Friends have made an initial grant and are promising a substantial further sum. We will also continue to provide smaller grants for other highly desirable items which are not part of basic running costs.



The first steps towards a café at the Arboretum

Many visitors to the Arboretum have told us that a top priority should be a café. In response, a group of Friends, led by Sally Orriss, have been providing home-made teas at weekends, with great success. We want to increase the opening hours of this refreshments service in 2014, with a view to setting up a permanent professional café in the longer term. With this is mind the Friends have bought a very attractive wooden shelter and we are now seeking planning permission to erect it. We hope to see it in place and in action, close to the pool beyond the ticket office caravan, later this year.