Visits and events for Friends and their guests
Special events to celebrate Harcourt Arboretum's 50 years
as part of the Oxford Botanic Garden
A gala dinner at the Arboretum, Saturday 1st June, 7.30pm
There are still a few tickets left for this reception, formal dinner, address by guest speaker James Alexander Sinclair and an auction of some wonderful promises, including:
- Lunch at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons and garden tour
- 4 tickets for Garsington Opera including Jamie's picnic and wines
- A box at Ascot Races
- Use of a house in Croatia
- A tasting menu at an extra Michelin-starred restaurant in London
- Garden border design by Chris Marchant of Orchard Dene Nurseries
- Use of the conservatory at the Oxford Botanic Garden
We will also have a silent auction of smaller prizes including use of the new woodland barn at the Arboretum for a barbecue, signed copies of garden books, proms tickets, and bags of charcoal from the Arboretum.
Saturday 1st June, 7.30pm
‘Let’s go down to the woods today!’, Sunday 30th June, 10.00am - 4.00pm
A family-friendly day with lots of activities for all ages and plenty to explore and discover throughout the Arboretum. We will provide teas and lunches all day and activities include:
- Self-guided trail around the Arboretum
- Charcoal burning demonstrations
- Audio trails
- Photography exhibition
- Canopy tree experience - reach the top of one of the tallest trees in a bosun chair!
- Woodland crafts
- Story telling
No need to book; entrance is free to Friends; £4.50 for non-Friends; children free.
Summer opera: Handel’s Tamerlano
by New Chamber Opera,
Wednesday 10th July, 6.30pm
Warden’s garden and cloisters, New College, Oxford
In contrast to last year’s light-hearted Il Re Pastore, this year New Chamber Opera will be giving us Tamerlano, a much more sombre tale. This opera in three acts was composed by Handel in less than a month in 1724, to a text by Nicola Haym. It was premiered at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, London in October of that year. It is notable for containing the first major tenor role (Bajazete) in opera history. The Tartar ruler, Tamerlano, has conquered the Emperor of the Turks, Bajazete, and imprisoned him. Tamerlano is betrothed to Princess Irene of Trabisond whom he has yet to meet but, after falling in love with Bajazete’s daughter Asteria, he renounces Irene. Asteria, meanwhile, is in love with Andronico, a Grecian prince and ally of Tamerlano. After many plottings and machinations, poisonings and deaths, all is resolved and the opera ends with Tamerlano and Irene pledging their love.
The evening will begin at 5.00pm with an optional pre-performance talk about the opera given by Professor Michael Burden in the New College ante-chapel. This will be followed by a glass of sparkling wine in the wonderful setting of the cloisters. The first act of the performance will start at 6.30pm in the Warden’s garden (in the ante-chapel if wet). During the 75-minute interval guests will return to tables set out in the cloisters to enjoy their picnics.
5.00pm: pre-performance talk, tickets £2.50; 6.30pm: opera performance, tickets £44.00. Please book using this booking form.
Friends should book for visits using this booking form. Visits tend to get booked up quickly so to avoid disappointment please send in your form as soon as possible. If you have any queries, contact the Friends’ Administrator, Liz Woolley, firstname.lastname@example.org, 01865 286690. Please note that, unless the visit is a coach trip, members and their guests must make their own way to the venue. Unfortunately we cannot provide or arrange transport.
There are still a number of places available on the following garden visit from our spring programme:
Burmington Grange, Burmington, Warwickshire CV36 5HZ
Saturday 18th May, 2.30pm
By kind permission of Mr & Mrs Patrick Ramsey
The garden was redesigned in 2002 by the owners. It now includes a vegetable garden with brick paths and terraces dropping down from the house to create a sunken garden with spectacular views behind. There has been a great deal of tree planting which includes an avenue of Malus hupehensis and Pyrus salicifolia as well as specimen walnuts, oaks and Paulownia. Refreshments will be served.
Tickets £12.50, guests £17.50
Maximum 40 people
New garden visits for the summer:
The Sheiling and Uplands, Boar's Hill, Oxford OX1
Thursday 23rd May, 2.30pm
The Sheiling by kind permission of Sue and Tony Shepherd; Uplands by kind permission of Lynn and Charles Sanders
We start at The Sheiling, a delightful north facing hillside garden set amongst mature Scots pines, oaks and silver birch. It is a spring garden of 2/3 acre planted with unusual rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias, camellias, pieris, hellebores and spring bulbs. A stream cascades to a naturalised pond surrounded by acers.
Uplands is a hidden 1/3 acre garden with borrowed views and colour throughout the year. There are dry shady borders; a wildlife pond which is home to great crested and smooth newts, damselflies and dragonflies; and an extensive range of herbaceous plants, bulbs, roses and clematis. Tea is included. Please note that the visit involves a 10-minute walk through a wood from one garden to the other and a 5-minute walk at either end from and to the parking area.
Tickets £15, guests £20
Maximum 30 people
Chiltern Place, Wingrave, nr Aylesbury HP22 4PX
Wednesday 12th June, 2.30pm
By kind permission of John & Jill Branham
Whether or not you grow vegetables, you will be fascinated by a visit to Chiltern Place. John Branham, the owner, is Chairman of the Midland branch of the National Vegetable Society. He is passionate, entertaining and instructive about the joys and occasional pitfalls of growing vegetables to supply the family table all year round. He also grows for show and is current and seven times previous winner of Class I in the National Championships. His three-acre garden has been developed over the last 38 years to provide fruit and vegetables which make the family virtually self-sufficient. The garden contains a range of raised beds backed up by greenhouses and cold frames, more than 40 trained fruit trees and a soft fruit cage with all the popular varieties. There is also an extensive series of flower beds containing herbaceous perennials, shrubs and annuals. Two large ponds and superb views across the Chiltern Hills form a backdrop to the garden. Tea is included.
Tickets £10, guests £15
Maximum 25 people
Double visit to Rodmarton Manor and Garden and to Daglingworth House, Nr Cirencester GL7
Sunday 16th June, 10.30 am
Rodmarton Manor and Garden by kind permission of the Biddulph family; Daglingworth House by kind permission of Mr & Mrs D Howard
Due to popular demand we return to Rodmarton Manor for a tour of both the house and garden. The Manor is one of the foremost examples of the Arts and Crafts movement in the UK, and the house and garden were the creation of one family. In June we will see the 8-acre garden in its prime. The beauty and individual character of each of the ‘outdoor rooms’ will be on full display, with the herbaceous borders and roses giving real drama. Morning coffee will be served, but please note that there will be no lunch provided, so bring a picnic or make your own arrangements.
The beautiful garden of Daglingworth House is approached across a lane leading to the church. It has been created by the current owners and is full of interesting ideas and surprises. A gate leads the visitor though a dark tunnel into the formally laid out walled garden. Further on there is a grotto, a temple, and wonderful views leading to less formal areas with rills, perennial borders and a canal. Tea will be served. The nearby church is Saxon and has what are believed to be some of the oldest carvings in the country; it is well worth a visit.
Tickets £25, guests £30
Maximum 40 people
Coach trip to Strawberry Hill, Twickenham
Wednesday 26th June, 9.00am
Coach leaves Water Eaton Park and Ride, Oxford, at 9.00am, returning about 5.30pm
This is a wonderful opportunity to visit Horace Walpole’s 18th century Gothic Revival house and garden. The house has recently been reopened after a complete £9m restoration and the garden is as far as possible being restored to its original appearance. In the morning we will be given a guided tour of the house, a truly theatrical experience. In the afternoon, the Head Gardener, Patrick Green, will take us round the garden which was laid out in 1747, the first landscaped garden to be connected to a ‘picturesque’ house. Refreshments will be served on arrival. Bring your own picnic for lunch or use the Strawberry Hill café.
Tickets £35, guests £40 (includes coach)
Maximum 50 people
Merton College, Oxford OX1 4JD
Thursday 4th July, two visits at 10.00am and at 2.00pm
By kind permission of Sir Martin Taylor, Warden of Merton College
We will be taken round the gardens of Merton College by Lucille Savin, the Head Gardener. They are a sympathetic fusion of historic garden features (such as an ancient mulberry, and the top terrace which affords views of Christchurch meadows) with contemporary planting of unusual tender perennials. The tour will include a rare opportunity to see the oldest continuously-functioning library for students in the world, dating from 1373. It was the first to house its books on bookshelves and some books are still chained as they were in the Middle Ages. Each tour will include refreshments.
Tickets £15, guests £20
Maximum 20 people in each group
Double visit to Rooksnest, Ermine Street, Lambourn Woodlands, RG17 7SB
and to The Old Rectory, Farnborough, Wantage OX12 8NX
Thursday 18th July 10.30 am
Rooksnest by kind permission Dame Theresa Sackler; The Old Rectory by kind permission Mr & Mrs Michael Todhunter
Rooksnest is an exceptionally fine traditional English garden designed mostly by Arabella Lennox Boyd. There are 10 acres with rose and herbaceous borders, a pond, herb garden, organic vegetable beds and glasshouses. There are also many fine specimen trees and shrubs, and an orchard and terraces recently renovated and replanted. Refreshments will be served, but please note that no lunch will be provided, so bring a picnic or make your own arrangements.
At The Old Rectory there is a series of immaculately-tended garden rooms which include herbaceous borders, an arboretum, roses, a pool and vegetable gardens, and an explosion of rare and interesting plants. With stunning views across the countryside, this is the perfect setting for the 1749 rectory (not open), once the home of John Betjeman, in memory of whom John Piper created a window in the local church (which is worth a visit). Some steep slopes. Refreshments included.
Tickets £20, guests £25
Maximum 50 people
Coach trip to Heale House and Little Durnford Manor, near Salisbury
Wednesday 24th July, 9.00am
Coach leaves Redbridge Park and Ride, Oxford, at 9.00am, returning about 5.30pm
Heale House by kind permission of Frances Rasch; Little Durnford Manor by kind permission of the Earl & Countess of Chichester
In the morning we will visit the garden at Heale House, originally designed by Harold Peto in 1894. Its eight acres lie beside the River Avon. There are formal gardens with a terrace, a Japanese garden, rose garden, a wild flower area, and a plant centre. Much of the house (which we do not visit) is unchanged since King Charles II hid here in 1651.
In the afternoon we will visit Little Dunford Manor, with its extensive lawns, walled gardens, large vegetable garden, terraces, water garden, lake with islands and river and labyrinth walks. This garden has steep slopes and some steps. Refreshments are included on arrival at Heale House. For lunch, there is a café at Heale House, or bring your own picnic.
Tickets £35, guests £40
Maximum 50 people
Regular events (no need to book)
The first Friday of every month (except January and August) in the Garden’s Conservatory. After coffee a member of staff leads a tour of the Garden.
Fridays: 7th June, 5th July, 6th September, 4th October, 1st November, 6th December, 10.30am to 11.30am, no fee and no booking required, just turn up.
These tours are with the Director Timothy Walker, structured around plants of particular interest for the time of year. They are crammed with botanical information and horticultural tips and are great fun. A plant list is provided.
Sundays 12th May, 30th June, 8th September, 10th November, 10.00am to 11.30am, Friends £2.00, guests £6.00 (includes entry to the Garden), no booking required, just turn up.
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 5th June, 3rd July, 7th August, 4th September, 4th October, 2nd November, 6th November, 4th December, 2.00pm to 3.30pm, no fee and no booking required, just turn up.
Homemade teas at the Arboretum
The Friends will be serving delicious homemade teas to make your visit to the Arboretum even more enjoyable:
Saturday 18th May, 10am - 4pm
Tuesday 28th May, 1pm - 4pm
Saturday 1st June, 10am - 4pm
Sunday 30th June, 10am - 4pm