Visits and events for Friends and their guests

Garden visits     Friends' coffee mornings at the Garden     Sunday plant tours at the Garden     Insight tours at the Arboretum


The Friends’ Plant Sale

Sunday 1st June 2014, 11.00 to 4.00pm
Harcourt Arboretum

This biennial event relies entirely upon donations of plants from the Garden and Arboretum, from professional nurseries, large private gardens, Oxford college gardens and many individual Friends. We welcome the rare and unusual to the more commonplace, trees to the tiniest alpines, and single or multiple plants. If you would like us to store plants that you have potted up recently, we can collect them or we can take clumps of plants that can be divided and potted up.

As well as plant stalls, the Sale boasts second hand garden books, pots, a garden-themed tombola and wonderful refreshments baked and served by our army of volunteers. Parking and entry are free, with a wheelbarrow delivery service. Hopefully you will also have time to stroll around the Arboretum viewing all the wonderful new improvements made by Ben Jones and his team, including the Barn at the southern end which will have weathered its first winter. We hope also to provide entertainment for children and woodland craft demonstrations.

This event is again generously sponsored by leading Oxfordshire estate agents Penny and Sinclair.


Your help is needed!

The biennial Plant Sale is the largest regular fundraiser on the Friends' calendar and its success relies entirely upon an army of volunteers. We would really appreciate your help; no experience or knowledge is required, just enthusiasm!

Ways to help:

  • Donating plants and cakes, from now until Friday 30th May.
  • Sorting, pricing and labelling plants on Wednesday 28th May, Thursday 29th May and Friday 30th May, 10.00am - 12.30pm or 1.30pm - 4.00pm.
  • Setting up on Sunday 1st June, 9.00am – 11.00am.
  • Helping on stalls, taking money, or preparing and serving refreshments on Sunday 1st June, 10.30am - 12.30pm, 12.30pm - 2.30pm or 2.30pm - 4.00pm.


If you can help please contact:

  • For publicity, woodland crafts, plants and other donations (including gardening books): Maura Allen, 01865 311711,
  • For sorting, setting up and staffing stalls on the day of the Sale: Mary Isaac, 01844 279606,
  • For helping with teas or providing cakes: Sally Orriss, 01844 279231,


Thank you!

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The Friends' al fresco opera: L’Infideltà delusa by Joseph Haydn

Wednesday 16th July
The Warden’s Garden, New College, Oxford

5.00pm: Pre-performance talk by Professor Michael Burden
6.30pm: Opera performance by New Chamber Opera

The earliest recorded performance of L’Infideltà delusa (‘Deceit outwitted’), a burletta per musica, was given at the Palace of Eszterháza in Hungary on 26th July 1773. This was the name day of the Dowager Princess Estaházy and is the date given in the printed libretto. The opera is set in the Tuscan countryside and tells the tale of rural folk, with much trickery and many disguises, but ending as all good tales should, with not one but two marriages.

There will be an optional pre-performance talk at 5.00pm in the ante-chapel, followed by a glass of sparkling wine in the New College cloisters. The first act of the performance will start at 6.30pm in the Warden’s Garden (or 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.

Pre-performance talk tickets £2.50; opera performance tickets £44.00

Please book on this opera booking form. Tickets will be allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis and will be sent out in early June.

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Spring and summer garden visits

Friends should book for garden visits using this booking form.

Holywell Manor

Saturday 26th April at 2.30pm
Manor Road, Oxford OX1 3UH; by kind permission of Professor Tom Mellon

We have been invited to see the gardens and the Gilbert Spencer paintings at this very ancient Manor. The gardens are being delicately restored and contain many fine unusual trees and shrubs. Tea is included.

Tickets £12.00, guests £17.00
Maximum no. 40




COACH TRIP to Stanway House and Water Garden (Winchcombe) and Snowshill Manor and Garden (Broadway)

Friday 16th May
The coach will leave Oxford’s Water Eaton Park & Ride at 9.00am. Please note that parking at Water Eaton is no longer free. We plan to get back to Oxford at around 6.00pm. Stanway House by kind permission of the Earl of Wemyss and March.

Our visit will begin at Stanway House with coffee and a tour of the sixteenth-century manor house. We will then visit the ancient barn, water mill and the formal gardens which include a high gravity-fed fountain. This will be a very interesting morning. The owners have kindly invited us to bring picnics which we can eat in the gardens after our visit. The coach will then take us to the National Trust house of Snowshill Manor. The house is packed with the last owner’s treasures and is surrounded by Arts and Crafts gardens. If you are a National Trust member please bring your card; if not you will need to pay at the entrance (£9.30) as this is not included in the cost of the trip.

Tickets £30.00, guests £35.00 (plus £9.30 payable at the entrance if not NT members)
Maximum no. 50


A rhododendron evening at Harcourt Arboretum

Friday 23rd May at 6.00pm
Nuneham Courtenay, OX44 9PX

The Curator of the Arboretum Ben Jones will tell us about the cultivation of rhododendrons and show us the many different varieties which we hope will be flowering when we visit. Wine will be served.

Tickets £15.00, Friends only (but if there are any tickets left, guests £20.00)
Maximum no. 25


Rhododendron ponticum on the Arboretum’s Serpentine Ride

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Trinity College, Oxford

Saturday 31st May at 2.00pm
Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BH; by kind permission of Dr Prior

We will be given a tour of the gardens by the head gardener, Paul Lawrence, and we will visit the chapel and have tea in the dining hall.

Tickets £15.00, guests £20.00
Maximum number 40


Hill Court

Friday 6th June at 2.30pm
Tackley, Kidlington, OX5 3AQ; by kind permission of Mr & Mrs Andrew Peake

Tackley Park was enclosed and planted in the last years of the eighteenth century. Sir Harold and Dame Felicity Peake took over the property in 1952 and redesigned the two- acre walled garden, creating stunning terraces with extensive views and enclosed garden rooms. The planting includes yew cones designed by Russell Page, herbaceous and colour borders, shrubberies, yew hedging and topiary. There is a pigeon house and ice house, and a walk to the lake. Chris Brown, who was a gardener at Hill Court as a young man, is now overseeing its renovation and replanting, and will give an introductory talk. Tea is included and nearby Tackley church will be open to visit. Most of the garden can be accessed using grass or gravel paths but some of the paths and steps are made of York stone and are particularly slippery when wet. Please note that there is no cover should it rain.

Tickets £15.00, guests £20.00
Maximum no. 50

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Rofford Manor

Friday 13th June at 6.00pm
Little Milton, OX4 7QQ; by kind permission of Jeremy & Hilary Mogford

Jeremy and Hilary Mogford started with a blank canvas in 1983 and began to lay out the garden to their own design, only later calling on Michael Balston to advise on the detailed planting. This immaculately maintained garden is constantly evolving. The entrance court sets the pace with pleached limes growing from elegantly clipped box drums. Throughout the garden the planting is carefully considered, with profusion in the borders, and simplicity and restraint in the smaller garden rooms around the house. The vista across the croquet lawn leads the eye into the countryside beyond the ha-ha and the lake is only revealed as a surprise halfway down the double borders. Wine and canapés will be served.

Tickets £15.00, guests £20.00
No limit on numbers


DOUBLE VISIT to the Coach House and Oxlease Farm

Friday 20th June
11.00 am: The Coach House, Ampney Crucis, GL7 5RY; by kind permission of Mr & Mrs Tanner

This very beautiful garden has been designed by Mrs Tanner over the past 25 years. Yew and box hedging provides rooms and there are herbaceous borders, rose beds and a potager. Arches, arbours, vistas and urns abound, ensuring that there is something to catch the eye at every turn. The church is also worth a visit. Coffee will be served. Bring a picnic or there are good pubs in the vicinity.

2.30pm: Oxlease Farm, Filkins, GL7 3RB
By kind permission of Mr & Mrs Mann

This is a more informal garden with vistas linking garden rooms, unusual plantings and a traditional potager. The potting shed is a delightful recent addition. Tea is included.

Tickets £22.00, guests £ 27.00
Maximum no. 40

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The Hidden Gardens of Hanwell

Saturday 21st June at 6.00pm
Hanwell Castle, Hanwell, Banbury OX17 1HN
By kind invitation of Mr & Mrs Christopher Taylor

Join us for Cremant sparkling wine and canapés and a chance to explore the fascinating archaeology of an early garden being uncovered at Hanwell Castle. The present owners have been working since 1984 to restore the historic gardens and extend the innovative early twentieth century planting begun by the Berkeley family. There will be a guided tour of the site to see the rare and lovely trees and a chance to explore the gardens on your own. In 2013 archaeologist Stephen Wass began working on the site and he will give an introductory talk about the discoveries and the uncovering of the pleasure gardens created in the 17th century by Sir Anthony Cope. There will also be a display of Stephen’s work. Guests will also be able to visit the Hanwell Community Observatory, created within the grounds by the present owners to bring astronomy to the general public. The Observatory’s centrepiece is the largest dedicated public-use telescope in Britain. Further information at:; There is a good pub in the village, The Moon and Sixpence, if you would like to go on somewhere afterwards.

Tickets (members and guests) £20.00
Maximum no. 50


DOUBLE VISIT to Mill Barn and The Manor

Monday 30th June at 6.00pm
Mill Barn, Mill Lane, Chalgrove, OX44 7SL; by kind permission of Mrs Pat Houghton and Mr & Mrs Jaques

Our visit will begin at the Mill whose gardens have cottage-style planting. We will then cross to the Manor which has a more formal garden and planting. Both these gardens are highly recommended. Wine and nibbles will be served.

Tickets £15.00, guests £20.00
Maximum no. 40

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Cotswold Lavender

Saturday 5th July at 2.00pm
Hill Barn Farm, Snowshill, Broadway, WR12 7JY

This is a third-generation family farm set in the heart of the Cotswolds. Lavender, wheat and barley are grown; the lavender is harvested in mid-summer and used to produce pure essential oil. Some lavender is dried as loose grains. The oil and grains are used to make a range of products, and the wheat for lavender warmers is also from the farm. There will be a tour of the fields and to see the products being made. Tea included.

Tickets £12.50, guests £17.50
Maximum no. 40


COACH TRIP to two Bristol hillside gardens
and the University of Bristol Botanic Garden

Sunday 13th July
The coach will leave Oxford’s Redbridge Park & Ride at 8.45am. Please note that parking at Redbridge is no longer free. We plan to be back in Oxford at around 6.00pm.

In the morning we will visit Goldeney and Clifton Hill House gardens. Both were constructed and planted by ship owners in the mid-1700s and are very interestingly designed on a hillside overlooking the River Avon. The gardens are being restored back to their original glory. We will have lunch and then travel to the University of Bristol Botanic Garden (left) for an afternoon tour. There will be a plant sale for us to visit afterwards (bring a labelled carrier for plants) and tea will be provided. Please note that morning coffee and lunch are not provided so bring drinks and a picnic, or buy lunch in one of the many nearby cafés.

Tickets £40.00, guests £45.00
Maximum no. 50

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COACH TRIP to the London Wetland Centre

Saturday 26th July
The coach will leave Oxford’s Water Eaton Park & Ride at 9.00am. Please note that parking at Water Eaton is no longer free. We plan to be back in Oxford at around 5.00pm.

The London Wetland Centre is an oasis just ten minutes from Hammersmith, comprising a 100-acre mosaic of pools, lagoons, gardens, reed beds and meadows. It was formed in 2000 from four disused Victorian reservoirs, tucked into a loop of the Thames, and provides a haven for hundreds of species of birds, insects and wetland mammals. The site includes several inspirational gardens which demonstrate that beauty, support for wildlife and sustainability can go together. After refreshments on arrival, we will have a guided tour of the Rain Garden with its wildflower meadow, green roof planting, stream with lush, bold vegetation along its edges and rocky ‘dry’ stream. In the afternoon we will be free to explore the rest of the site including the Wildlife Garden with its trees and stretches of tall reeds and grasses running down to the edge of the stream, and the Slate Garden, a riot of colour, designed to provide bold swatches of brightly hued flowers which offer an eye-catching display from spring through to autumn. Lunch is not included so bring a picnic or visit the excellent Water Edge Café. Also bring your binoculars.

Tickets £31.00, guests: £36.00
Maximum no. 50

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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 April, 2nd May,  6th June, 4th July, 5th September, 3rd October, 7th November, 5th December, 10.30am to 11.30am, no fee and no booking required, just turn up.




Sunday plant tours at the Garden

With Director Timothy Walker, structured around plants of particular interest for the time of year. Tours are crammed with botanical information and horticultural tips and are great fun. A plant list is provided.

Sundays 6th April and 15th June, 10.00am to 11.30am, Friends £2.00, guests £7.50 (includes entry to the Garden), 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 April, 7th May, 4th June, 2nd July, 6th August, 3rd September, 1st October, 5th November, 3rd December, 1.30pm to 3.00pm [note new, earlier time], no fee and no booking required, just turn up.



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