Visits and events for Friends and their guests

Special winter events for Friends and their guests

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



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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Covertside - FULLY BOOKED

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 - FULLY BOOKED

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

Please note that the date of this event was to be Saturday 19th March 2016, but this is now subject to confirmation. We will let Friends know as soon as possible.

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!’

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

Sunday 29 May, 11.00am - 4.00pm
at Harcourt Arboretum (which will be open from 10.00am)
Entrance £2 per adult, children free

The biennial Friends’ Plant Sale is our largest fundraising event. Please come with your family and friends to enjoy the beautiful grounds of the Arboretum which will be in their late spring glory, with the final bluebells and the beginnings of rhododendrons, azaleas and the flowering wild meadows. In addition to a huge range of plants for sale, we will have an advice table, a garden-themed tombola, wood crafts, live music, a pig roast and our wonderful homemade teas. Your plant purchases can be taken to your car by wheelbarrow by members of a local scout group.

How can you help?
The Plant Sale is run entirely by volunteers and we are always very grateful for the many ways in which Friends help:

  • During the early spring please remember the Plant Sale when dividing, sowing and potting up plants. We are particularly keen to sell a very wide range of vegetable seedlings and herbs and would be most grateful for donations of unusual and heritage varieties. If you have large clumps of interesting herbacaeous plants that need dividing and potting on, we can collect them and do this for you.
  • Donations of pots, baskets, wooden wine boxes and other interesting containers for our garden-themed tombola. Sadly we can no longer sell gardening books.
  • Collecting, sorting and labelling plants from Wednesday 25 to Friday 27 May, 10.00am to 4.00pm.
  • Producing homemade cakes for the refreshments stall.
  • Setting up on the day of the sale, staffing stalls, selling teas or taking money.


For plant, cake or tombola donations and general enquiries please contact Maura Allen, 01865 311711,
For offers of help please contact Carol Maxwell,

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The Friends' Opera

'The Parisian Painter’ by Domenico Cimarosa

Sung in English by New Chamber Opera and the Band of Instruments

Wednesday 13 July
New College, Oxford

5.00pm: pre-performance talk by Professor Michael Burden, Director of the New Chamber Opera
6.30pm: opera performance

Tickets £44 (to include a glass of sparkling wine); plus an additional £3 for the optional pre-performance talk

This opera was first performed in 1781. Cimarosa was the most celebrated Italian composer of his day and hugely successful - his operas were staged throughout Europe. ‘The Parisian Painter’ was one of his greatest successes. The amusing story concerns Eurilla, who must marry Baron Cricca to receive her inheritance. But she falls in love with Crotignac, a painter. So will she choose money or love? Join us to find out!

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

A booking form will be sent to Friends with the next newsletter in early March.

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The Friends' Summer Party

Wednesday 31 August 6.00-8.00pm
in the Botanic Garden

An opportunity to celebrate our 25th anniversary in the beautiful surroundings of the Botanic Garden at the height of its summer splendour.

Further details and a booking form will be sent to Friends with the next newsletter in early March.



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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.

Fridays: 4th March (guided tour with the Glasshouse staff), 1st April (no guided tour), 6th May (no guided tour), 10.30am to 11.30am, no fee and no booking required, just turn up.

Note that there will be an additional coffee morning at Harcourt Arboretum on Friday 6th May, 10.30am to 11.30am, with a tour of the bluebells. 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 March, 6th April, 4th May, 1.30pm to 3.00pm, no fee and no booking required, just turn up.




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