The University of Oxford, Harcourt Arboretum contains a diverse collection of plants which are not only grown for their amenity or structural value, but are also used for
1. Reference; e.g. plant identification, education and interpretation.
2. Taxonomic, conservation, horticultural or ethno-botanic research.
3. Ex-situ plant conservation.
The Arboretum has a diverse and rich history, not only in the landscape but in the continued development of botany as a science. The Botanic Garden being the oldest in the country, 390 years old, with Harcourt Arboretum dating back to 1835. Archbishop Harcourt instructed one of the main exponents of the Picturesque landscape movement, William Sawrey Gilpin, to lay out a Pinetum. Gilpin achieved this in the years following 1835, using many of the newly introduced conifers from the West Coast of America.
The Arboretum is a living and dynamic collection of plants. To continue the great works that have gone before us, it is vital that through our management and utilization of these plants, we engage with plant conservation and renewal, not preservation. Harcourt Arboretum is synonymous with North American conifers, specifically from the North Pacific West Coast, and in order to continue this legacy for future generations, it is of paramount importance that we work actively to build a future into the planting at the Arboretum, ensuring the age structure of our plants reflects this.