Visits and events for Friends and their guests

Spring 2015 garden visits

Summer 2015 garden visits

Special events for friends and their guests, including May Morning, Gardeners' Question Time and the Friends' Opera

Friends' coffee mornings at the Garden

Insight tours at the Arboretum


Spring 2015 garden visits

Friends should book for spring 2015 visits using this booking form.


Evenley Wood Garden

Saturday 7th March 2015 at 2.00pm

Evenley, NN13 5SH, by kind permission of Mr Timothy Whiteley.

Set in the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside, this 60-acre private woodland garden houses a large and notable collection of plants ranging from unusual trees and shrubs to a wide selection of lilies and bulbs. These are accompanied by displays of early daffodils, hellebores and snowflakes as the flowering season begins. There will be a guided tour ending with afternoon tea.

  • Tickets £13, guests £18
  • Maximum no. 40


Double visit to The Manor and St Mary's Church, Chalgrove

Friday 20th March 2015 at 10.30am

The Manor, Mill Lane, Chalgrove, OX44 7SL, by kind permission of Mr & Mrs Jacques

The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Church Lane, Chalgrove, OX44 7TB

Discovered in the 1980s beneath layers of render and plaster and conserved and restored over the years, the Manor is a timber framed hall house, Grade I listed, which dates from c.1460. There are 16th century wall paintings at first floor level, 17th century wall paintings in the solar wing on the ground floor and many other features of historic interest. Access to the first floor is by stairs with handrails on both sides, to the second floor by a narrow, winding staircase with a handrail on the left, and then to the roof of the hall is by way of a short crawl past the inserted chimney. The Grade l listed Church of St Mary the Virgin has, among many other heritage assets, the most complete set of early 14th century wall paintings in the country. There will be a presentation of on the wall paintings by Bob Heath-Whyte. Other historic features include the late 17th century parish clock, the late Norman font, Norman and Medieval architectural features, brasses and a rare Friendly Society banner. Refreshments on arrival and afternoon tea are included; lunch can be taken at one of the three pubs in the village, or bring a picnic.

  • Tickets £22, guests £27
  • Maximum no. 40


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Adwell House

Wednesday 15th April 2015 at 2.00pm

Adwell, Thame, OX9 7DQ, by kind permission of Tom & Imogen Birch-Reynardson.

The gardens at Adwell House cover around 4 acres and have been developed by many generations of the Birch-Reynardson family. Broad sweeping lawns surround impressive specimen trees which are under planted with spring bulbs. There is a more formal walled garden. On the edge of the garden is the first of seven lakes surrounded by primulas and irises, leading via a waterfall to the the remaining lakes. We will see the spectacular display of 25,000 daffodils and we will be given a private tour by the Head Gardener Colin Roberts. Refreshments included.

  • Tickets £15, guests £20
  • No maximum no.


Ridleys Cheer

Friday 24th April 2015 at 2.30pm

Mountain Bower, Chippenham, SN14 7AJ, by kind permission of Antony & Sue Young.

A garden of immense charm, peace and quiet colours, created over 40 years by the owners Antony Young, a celebrated garden designer, and his wife Sue. When we visit, the magnolias, deutzias, elaeagnus, narcissi and cyclamen will create a paradise of white, pink and primrose yellow. We will be given a private tour of the garden by Mr Young. Refreshements included.

  • Tickets £16, guests £21
  • No maximum no.


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Summer 2015 garden visits


Friends should book for summer 2015 visits using this booking form.


Coach trip to visit both Chenies Manor & Gardens and Chesham Bois Garden

Thursday 7th May, coach departs Oxford's Water Eaton Park & Ride at 8.45am; back c. 5.30pm

Chenies, Rickmansworth, WD3 6ER, by kind permission of Elizabeth MacLeod Matthews

Chesham Bois, 85 Bois Lane, Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire HP6 6DF, by kind permission of Julia Plaistowe

Our private visit to Chenies (right, © Keith Hoffmeister) begins with timed guided tours of this Tudor house which the architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner described as "...archaeologically a fascinating puzzle". The gardens, created by Alistair and Elizabeth MacLeod Matthews, are divided into a series of compartments: the sunken garden and white garden; the south border; the rose gardens; the inner court; the physic garden; the parterre with its yew maze, the kitchen garden with its orchards; and a penitential maze. However, at this time of year, weather permitting, it is the tulip which reigns supreme. There will be refreshments on arrival and a sandwich lunch provided, before travelling on to Chesham Bois.

The owner of Chesham Bois, Julia Plaistowe, will welcome us to her garden, which consists of a variety of spaces and extends to about 3 acres. The whole garden can be viewed from many different aspects and there are two long vistas, one facing east, the other south. There is a gazebo, a small ornamental canal and rill and, in the distance, a meadow area with tall grasses on either side leading to a seat in the arbour. In addition there are two large herbaceous beds, a wildlife pond, a walled garden and, on the sheltered south side of the house, a terrace is planted with tender salvias and plants. Refreshments will be provided during our visit.

  • Tickets £40, guests £45
  • Maximum no. 50


Double private visit to Daylesford House and to Kingham Lodge

Thursday 21st May

10.30am: Daylesford Estate, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 0YH, by kind permission of Lord & Lady Bamford

2.30pm: Kingham Lodge, West End, Kingham, Oxfordshire OX7 6YL, by kind permission of Christopher & Delphie Stockwell

This is a private visit to Daylesford House's magnificent 18th-century landscape estate, created in 1790 for Warren Hastings and greatly restored and enhanced by the present owners, Sir Antony and Lady Bamford. A large walled garden is formally planted around orchid, peach and working glasshouses. There is a collection of citrus trees within a period orangery as well as a secret garden with pavilion, formal pools, and lakeside and woodland walks. We shall be met by the Head Gardener, Dustin Hamilton. Please note that no refreshments are included in the morning visit and Friends will need to make their own arrangements for lunch.

In the afternoon the owner of Kingham Lodge, Mr Christopher Stockwell, will welcome us and talk about the garden (left). The five acre-garden has been created over the last twenty years from a field adjacent to the house. Unusually for the Cotswolds, the garden can grow rhododendrons and azaleas (often next to lavenders, irises and pink hydrangeas!). There are hundreds of rhododendrons and azaleas, many likely to be in flower during our visit. There are two large ponds: one formal and surrounded by a beech hedge on stilts, the other informal with waterfalls. There is a large pergola and adjacent parterre, as well as acres of lawns, shrubs and some unusual trees. Refreshments will be provided at the end of the visit.

  • Tickets £25, guests £30
  • Maximum no. 35


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Private visit to Upton Wold

Saturday 6th June at 2.30pm

Upton Wold, Northwick Estate, Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 9TR, by kind permission of Mr & Mrs Ian Bond

Set in a beautiful Cotswold landscape, this private garden has been created over 35 years, originally with the help of landscape architects Colvin & Moggridge. Hidden in the hills, Upton Wold Garden has an exceptional collection of trees, shrubs and unusual plants, and also holds national collections of Juglans and of Pterocarya. Yew hedges, a herbaceous walk, a pond, canal, vegetable and woodland gardens, a walnut arboretum and a labyrinth, make this a garden of interest for any plant enthusiast.

  • Tickets £20, guests £25
  • Maximum no. 45


Double private visit to Eyford House and to Rockcliffe House

Tuesday 9th June

11.00am: Eyford House, Upper Slaughter, Nr Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL54 2JN, by kind permission of Mrs C Heber-Percy

2.30pm: Rockcliffe House, Upper Slaughter, Nr Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL54 2JW, by kind permission of Mr & Mrs Simon Keswick

We will be met by the Head Gardener of Eyford House, Tony Goodwill. The 1½-acre sloping north-facing garden, known for its ornamental shrubs and trees, was originally laid out by Graham Stuart Thomas in 1976. There is also a west garden and terrace, red border, walled kitchen garden, a holy well, and two lakes with pleasant walks and views. Refreshments will be provided on arrival. Friends will need to make their own lunch arrangements, before arriving for our afternoon visit at Rockcliffe.

The garden at Rockliffe (left, © Andrew Lawson) is the perfect blend of informally-planted trees and shrubs and generously filled borders, balanced by a good strong structure of hedges, topiary and pleached limes. It recalls the best of 20th-century gardening, but has a contemporary edge to the layout, which is not surprising as the owner Emma Keswick has designed gardens for others. The crisp simplicity of a long canal is offset by the softer planting of Cornus controversia ‘Variegata’ overhanging a sunken pool near the house. The eye is drawn across a shallow valley towards a dovecot approached through an avenue of topiaried yew birds. Refreshments will be provided in the Orangery at the end of our visit.

  • Tickets £25, guests £30
  • Maximum no. 35


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Hill Grounds

Sunday 14th June at 3.00pm

Evenley, Northamptonshire NN13 5RZ, by kind permission of Mrs Janet Cropley

A 3.5-acre plantsman's garden with year-round interest, surrounded by a 200-yard yew hedge and known locally for its wonderful herbaceous borders with summer bulbs, and pergolas of rose and clematis. There is also an ‘arborette’ with wild flowers. Tea will be served. (Image © Bob Cropley)

  • Tickets £15, guests £20
  • Maximum no. 40



Double private visit to St Mary's Church and The Malt House, Iffley Village

Sunday 28th June at 2.30pm

Church Way, Iffley, Oxford OX4 4EJ, by kind permission of Helen Potts

We will start with a guided tour of the Romanesque and largely unchanged church of St Mary the Virgin. We will see the marvellous stone carvings, Piper and Wagner windows and other highlights of this absolute gem of a church. We will then visit Helen Potts' 1.8-acre garden (left) with mixed borders, terraces, specimen trees, raised vegetable beds and water meadow fronting Iffley Lock. Please note there are lot of steps. Tea will be served.

  • Tickets £18, guests £23
  • Maximum no. 40


Coach trip to Great Dixter

Sunday 19th July, coach departs Oxford’s Redbridge Park & Ride at 8.00 am; back c 7.00 pm

Northiam, Rye, East Sussex TN31 6PH

Great Dixter was the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd. The charming 15th-century manor house, framed by vibrant and eclectic gardens, is now under the stewardship of Fergus Garrett and the Great Dixter Charitable Trust. Great Dixter is a historic house, a garden, a centre of education, and a place of pilgrimage for horticulturists from across the world. The visit will include a guided tour of the house and garden. Please note that refreshments and lunch are not included.

  • Tickets £45, guests £50
  • Maximum no. 50


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Rycote Park

Thursday 20th August at 10.30am

Rycote Park, Nr Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 2PE, by kind permission of Bernard & Sarah Taylor

This private visit to Rycote Park will begin with coffee, tea and biscuits in the 18th -century barn next to Rycote Chapel and an introductory talk on its history from Sarah Taylor. The chapel was consecrated in 1449. It has a plain but pleasing exterior but what makes it of outstanding interest are the fine 17th-century fittings of the western gallery, two large covered pews, pulpit and beautifully carved reredos. Sarah and her team will then lead us on a tour of the chapel, historic grounds and gardens of Rycote, taking in the research done by Time Team, amongst others. Rycote Park was once a great Tudor palace much visited by royalty, including Elizabeth I as princess in captivity and then no fewer than six times as queen. It was bought by Lord Williams of Thame in 1539 and remained in the hands of his descendants, ultimately the Earls of Abingdon, until 1911. By then, the house was a shadow of its former self, having been largely demolished in 1807. During the course of the 20th and 21st centuries, three owners have added their stamp to create what is now a mellow comfortable house in a beautiful park, restored with the help of Elizabeth Banks, with echoes still of Capability Brown who designed the park in the 1760s.

  • Tickets £15, guests £20
  • Maximum no. 60


Special events for Friends and their guests

May Morning at the Botanic Garden

Please book for May Morning using this booking form.

Friday 1st May, 5.00 - 5.30am, entry by Rose Lane gate; gates will close at 5.30am

Enjoy the magic of May Morning without the crowds and in the serenity and beauty of the Botanic Garden at dawn. We can offer the best view in Oxford of Magdalen Tower. Coffee and hot chocolate will be available upon entry, and there will be entertainment from local Morris dancers. Croissants and more hot drinks will be served after the choristers’ singing at 6.00am.

  • Tickets £10, guests £15, children (aged 3-16) £5, under 3s free


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Gardeners’ Question Time at Rycote Manor

Please book for Gardeners' Question Time using this booking form.

Wednesday 10th June at 6.00pm

Four well known garden personalities and experts including Val Boune, John Grimshaw, Simon Bagnall and Walter Sawyerwill answer your questions about local gardening in the beautiful setting of Rycote Manor, whose gardens have been restored and rejuvenated by Sarah and Bernard Taylor to enhance the remaining Tudor buildings. There will be wine and canapés and and a chance to enjoy a walk around the gardens, followed by the Gardeners’ Question Time in the barn (left) at 7.00pm. (Image courtesy of Country Life magazine.)

  • Tickets £15, guests £20



The Friends’ opera: La Locandiera (The Mistress of the Inn)

by Antonio Salieri, performed in English by New Chamber Opera

Please book for the opera using this booking form.

Wednesday 15th July, at New College, Oxford

5.00pm: Optional pre-performance talk by Professor Michael Burden

6.00pm: Welcoming glass of sparkling wine

6.30pm: Opera performance

La Locandiera is based on a comedy by Goldoni and it was first performed in 1773 with libretto by Domenico Puggi. Salieri was a very successful composer, a major teacher and director of the Court Opera in Vienna. La Locandiera was an enormous popular success and was regarded as one of his finest works; it was performed in opera houses across Europe. The story concerns the mistress of the inn, Mirandolina. All her customers fall in love with her and the story has much fun with Mirandolina fending off amorous noblemen and others.

The opera will be performed in the lovely surroundings of the Warden’s Garden at New College (in the chapel if wet). There will be a 75-minute interval for picnicking in the cloisters.

  • Tickets £44, pre-performance talk £3.


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Dates for your diary

The following garden visits have been provisionally booked for the autumn. There will be further information in the Friends' newsletter in July:

Friday 4th September (afternoon): Saïd Business School and Nuffield College, Oxford       

Sunday 6th September (early evening): Brightwell Vineyard and wine tasting (right)

Date to be confirmed: Egrove Park, Oxford

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Regular events (no need to book)


Friends’ coffee mornings at the GardenGardens Curator Tom Price (centre) showing Friends the Merton Borders in the Lower Garden, September 2012

The first Friday of every month (except January, April and August) in the Garden’s Conservatory. After coffee a member of staff leads a tour of the Garden.

Fridays: 6th March, 1st May, 5th June, 3rd July, 10.30am to 11.30am, no fee and no booking required, just turn up.





Insight tours at the Arboretum

Friends are very welcome to join these free tours on the first Wednesday of every month, which are a great opportunity for Arboretum staff to show off the latest developments, and for visitors to give their thoughts and opinions as well as to ask questions.

Wednesdays 1st April, 6th May, 3rd June, 1st July, 1.30pm to 3.00pm, no fee and no booking required, just turn up.



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