Wednesday, 27th May 2015
Before leaving Oxford we visited Harcourt Arboretum. Part of the University of Oxford, it is 130 acres of trees, rhododendrons, bluebell woods and wildflower meadows, just 5 or 6 miles outside of Oxford City Centre.
We followed the grassy paths enjoying the sunshine and admiring the amazing display of rhododendrons, the huge variety of trees and the beautiful wildflower meadows.
I managed a few pictures before a little note appeared on the screen of my camera telling me my battery was ‘exhausted’! Poor thing, I must take more care of it in future and remember to charge it if I’m going around taking hundreds of photos!
There was a ‘flock’ of peacocks on site (actually called ‘a muster of peacocks), which apparently have wandered in from the neighbouring estate. They are so beautiful and very photogenic. One of them disgraced himself though, by begging for food whilst we were eating our picnic on a shady bench. When we shooed him away, he walked around the back of the tree behind us and appeared on the other side all innocently and tried again. They have a very loud squawking cry which made us jump on a few occasions!
Harcourt Arboretum (2 miles)
We followed what looked to be the prettiest route through the rhododendrons, around the fernery, through the bluebell wood and back across the meadows before stopping for lunch by the pond.
Harcourt Arboretum was designed and planted by William Sawrey Gilpin on the Nuneham Estate at the request of Archbishop Vernon Harcourt in 1835 and purchased by the University of Oxford from the Harcourt family in 1963. It was originally a Pinetum, and Gilpin introduced many conifers from the West Coast of America. Since then the University has been gradually purchasing surrounding acres to continue its work, alongside the Botanical Gardens, in supporting conservation and expanding its tree and plant collection.
We wandered through the fernery:
And came across this guy loitering in the bushes:
I don’t know who he is but he’s not a particularly happy chappy!
And neither was this little person – I think he’s maybe a bit upset that no-one’s sharing lunch with him!
He is so gorgeous though:
And you know how I love a pattern!
We scrambled to the top of a little mound to see the surrounding countryside views and then walked through the meadows, home to the common spotted orchid (we didn’t spot any) and more than 50 other plants. At the moment, the meadows are golden yellow with meadow buttercup, interspersed with cow parsley and glowing in the morning sunshine.
Well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.
(Total miles this year: 373miles)
Associated artwork for Ricketyrambler by Andrew Major: