Visits and events for Friends and their guests

Special winter events for Friends and their guests - download a booking form here

Spring 2016 garden visits - download a booking form here

Spring 2016 special events including bulb planting at Harcourt Arboretum and the Friends' Biennial Plant Sale

Friends' coffee mornings at the Garden

Insight tours at the Arboretum


Special winter events for Friends and their guests

A Botanical Winter Wonderland at the Botanic Garden

Friday 4th and Saturday 5th December, 5.00-8.00pm (last entry 7.30pm)

Professional light installations, children’s trails, winter crafts and our naturally-decorated Christmas tree. Music by the Horns of Plenty on Friday and by the City of Oxford Silver Band on Saturday. Food and drink available to purchase.

Tickets: Friends £5.50, non-Friends £7.00, children aged 12 and under free. Please book using this booking form.



An Evening of Traditional Music at Merton College Chapel with the Clarendon Consort

Friday 22nd January 2016: 7.15pm, reception in the Ante-Chapel; 7.45pm, concert

A concert of beautiful traditional British song arrangements from the 16th to the 21st centuries, some to bring a smile to your lips, others to bring a tear to your eye. The concert, designed to lighten the post-Christmas gloom, has been put together by Paul Lindsell and his wonderful choir, the Clarendon Consort - a superb small choir of ex-choral scholars and experienced musicians who perform on a purely voluntarily basis to support charity work in Oxford. The group includes Paul Lindsell (conductor), Nancy-Jane Rucker, Nicholas Perkins, Tanya Wicks, Sarah Coatsworth, Laura Ashby, Andrew Gant, Kathy Willis, Edwin Simpson, Benjamin Thompson, Philip Allen and Chris Cullen. The concert is in support of ‘Plants that Changed the World’, an ambitious initiative from Simon Hiscock (Director of the Botanic Garden & Harcourt Arboretum) and Tom Price (Curator of Hardy Plants) to transform the vegetable collection at the Botanic Garden by introducing plants that have changed the course of human civilisation.

Tickets (to include a glass of sparkling wine): Friends £20, guests £25. Please book using this booking form.

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The Winter Lecture Series 2016

Thursdays, 8.00pm at the Saïd Business School, Park End Street, Oxford OX1 1HP

28th January: A life in five gardens with James Alexander-Sinclair

11th February: Crisis and renewal in urban parks: royal parks, Central Park and Yale's experience with Jane Owen

25th February: The secret sex life of plants with Simon Hiscock

10th March: Reviving Britain’s wood culture with Gabriel Hemery

24th March: The gardens of Oxford colleges with Tim Richardson

Tickets £14 per lecture (to include a glass of wine); £54 for the whole series. Further information here and booking here.

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Spring 2016 garden visits

Friends should book for the following spring 2016 visits using this booking form.

Barn Cottage - FULLY BOOKED

Thursday 18th February 2016 at 2.00pm

Barn Cottage, Shilton OX18 4AB

By kind permission of Dr R Mackenzie

A private visit to this plantsman's garden which has been  established for over forty years. There is an extensive collection of snowdrops, with some old cultivars going back to the time of the distinguished gardener EA Bowles in the early 20th century. There are also modern snowdrop discoveries. There is a good collection of hellebores, including species reintroduced by Will McLewin, mainly from Croatia, and hybrids developed by Helen Ballard. We will have tea at the Shilton village hall.

Tickets £15, guests £20; maximum no. in group 25


(Image: Galanthus elwesii Godfrey Owen exh Ronald Mackenzie FCC at Barn Cottage)

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Friday 26th February 2016 at 11.00am

Perrott's Brook, Cirencester, GL7 7BW

By kind permission of Mr & Mrs J Sales

This is our second private visit to Covertside, a fascinating garden full of winter treasures including snowdrops and aconites. Mr Sales was Head of Gardens at the National Trust. His view is that 'Everything you do in a garden contributes to its design'. Coffee will be served on arrival.

Tickets £15, guests £20; maximum no. in group 25


Oxford University Herbaria

Saturday 12th March 2016 at 11.00am and 2.00pm

Department of Plant Sciences, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RB

By kind permission of Professor Liam Dolan, Head of the Department of Plant Sciences

The Oxford University Herbaria are intimately associated with the history of Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum. This visit will showcase botanical specimens which illustrate horticultural and scientific uses at the Botanic Garden since the 1650s. Highlights will include specimens and drawings prepared by Jacob Bobart from the early Garden, examples of very early collections of medicinal and economically important plants, the results of collecting expeditions such as Ferdinand Bauer's illustrations for the Flora Graeca, and Charles Daubeny's early experiments with growing aquatic plants under glass. We will also be shown some of the more unusual material in the collection and specimens added by famous botanical personalities. Coffee and tea will be served.

Tickets £15, guests £20; maximum no. 20 per session

(Image: Herbarium specimen of Leonotis leonurus by Jacob Bobart)

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Green Templeton College and Radcliffe Observatory - FULLY BOOKED

Friday 18th March 2016 at 2.30pm

43 Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6HG

By kind permission of the Bursar of Green Templeton College

The gardens of Green Templeton have been developed, since the founding of the College in 1979, into a series of quadrangles and walled grounds which complement the 18th century Radcliffe Observatory. This is one of the most striking buildings in Oxford, whose magnificent octagonal tower is modelled on the ancient Tower of the Winds in Athens. The entrance to the college, the Lankester Quadrangle, was created out of the stable yard or ‘back door’ of the Observatory. The Georgian style of architecture, which was chosen for all the college buildings, lends itself to the sense of unity which is aimed for in the planting. We will have tour of the gardens and Observatory with Head Gardener Michael Pirie. Tea is included.

Tickets £15, guests £20; maximum no. in group 24


(Image: The Radcliffe Observatory in the gardens of Green Templeton College)


Double visit to Pettifers and Broughton Grange

Friday 29th April 2016

Pettifers, Wardington, Nr Banbury, OX17 1RU at 11.00am

By kind permission of The Hon Mrs Gina Price

Pettifers is a wonderful hillside garden well known for its very varied planting and interesting combinations of colour, various leaf textures and an unusual collection of tulips that changes every year. Mrs Price will give an introductory talk. Coffee, tea and biscuits will be served.

Broughton Grange, Wykham Lane, Broughton, Banbury, OX15 5DS at 2.30pm

By kind permission of the owner

Broughton Grange has been transformed in recent years to become a leading contemporary garden. Tom Stuart Smith designed a new 6-acre walled garden full of interesting modern plantings. There is also a recently-planted 90-acre arboretum with many unusual species. The Head Gardener will give a brief introductory talk and be available to answer questions. Tea and biscuits will be served.

Note: Lunch is not included in this double visit.

Tickets £22, guests £27; maximum no. in group 45


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Spring 2016 special events

Bulb planting at Harcourt Arboretum

Saturday 19th March 2016, 11.00am - 3.00pm

A chance to volunteer for this exciting new programme. Maura Allen and Ben Jones write:

‘To broaden the seasonal interest of several formal areas in the Arboretum, we will carry out large-scale bulb planting, starting next spring. Come and join the team, get your hands dirty, have lots of fun, and then come back in the autumn to see how your planting is doing!’

Our first day of planting will be Saturday 19 March 2016. The Friends will provide tea, coffee and cake to help maintain energy levels. If you are interested in joining in, please contact Carol Maxwell on


The Friends’ Biennial Plant Sale

Harcourt Arboretum, Nuneham Courtenay, OX44 9PX

Sunday 29th May 2016, 11.00am - 3.00pm

Please think of us when dividing any interesting or popular plants this autumn, and keep some to donate to our Plant Sale. Perennials, trees, shrubs, herbs and vegetables are all welcome. If you are unable to store plants over winter they can be accommodated at the Botanic Garden and brought on for the sale. If you would like to donate plants or have any queries, please contact Maura Allen at or ring 01865 311711.

Carol Maxwell, our volunteer co-ordinator, will be contacting Friends in the New Year regarding assistance with this large fundraising event. Help is needed in the four days before the sale, with plant delivery, labelling and pricing, and on the day on the refreshment stall, moving plants, car parking and staffing tills and plant tables. If you have never helped before and would like to, please do get in touch ( - it is a great way to meet new people and to help the Garden and Arboretum.

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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 and August) in the Garden’s Conservatory. After coffee a member of staff leads a tour of the Garden.

Fridays: 4th December, 5th February 2016, 4th March, 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 2nd December, 6th January 2016, 3rd February, 2nd March, 1.30pm to 3.00pm, no fee and no booking required, just turn up.




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