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Fronting onto Broad Street, Trinity College's distinctive iron gates give the college a more open feel than many other Oxford colleges. Through the gates you can catch a glimpse of some of the most beautiful gardens in Oxford.
This quadrangle features a lawn of approximately 2500 square metres on which several specimen trees can be found. These include two large Atlantic Blue cedars as well as a Catalpa, which is reputed to be one of the oldest in Oxford. The most recent additions are Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans’ and Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’. In front of the chapel is a very fine specimen of Magnolia grandiflora.
This is the private garden for the college’s Fellows, but can be glimpsed through the iron gate. It has been planted with four beautiful Trachycarpus wagnerianus palms which have been underplanted with several species of tender salvias. The palms, which were introduced from Japan in the early nineteenth century, are much more compact than their more popular cousins T. Fortunii, which makes them a perfect addition for a small walled garden such as this. The focal point of the garden is the pond, which contains two magnificent seventeenth-century limestone heraldic beasts which spout water from their mouths into the pond.
The octagonal lawn sits on a plinth of Portland stone. The lawn is cut using a 12” cylinder mower and the gardeners are encouraged to mow in both directions, to give a chessboard-like appearance. The lawn was installed in 1980.
This quad, the original part of which was designed by Christopher Wren, is often used to host college barbecue events. The climber which covers the archway is Campsis x tagliabuana and is a real favourite with the hundreds of visitors each summer. Our summer window boxes change season to season.
We are extremely fortunate to have 5000 square metres of ornamental lawns on which students and visitors can relax. The lawns are mown at least twice a week during the summer using a 34” Buffalo pedestrian operated cylinder mower. These gardens are permanently on view through the gates on Parks Road, making them famous in their own right; they have appeared in episodes of Inspector Morse and Lewis. Alongside the north lawns is a long herbaceous border which is shortly to undergo restoration.
This is the private garden of the President, currently Dame Hilary Boulding. It is surrounded by high stone walls, yew hedges and herbaceous borders. It is also home to the Trinity tortoises, Plum and Toby.
This area of the garden is many people’s favourite. Informally planted, it boasts a good collection of mature trees. These trees, almost all deciduous, include some of the original trees surviving from an avenue of pleached limes. The wilderness comes into its own after the herbaceous borders die down in autumn; from early January the first of the thousands of perennial plants begin to appear. Aconites, crocuses, fritillaries, narcissus, tulips, and anemones are just some of those that provide colour and interest from January through to late May. Once the bulbs have finished, the trees are in leaf, providing dappled shade from the summer sun.
Between 1966 and 1968 this area of the college, which was once a rose garden, was excavated to make room for Blackwell’s basement Norrington Room. The quad is currently at the heart of the construction of a major new building. The new Levine Building will enclose the north side of the quadrangle and a new landscaped quad will be developed with a raised lawn and water feature providing a quiet outdoor setting.
This garden was designed to soften what is an aesthetically awkward area of the college. A design for a rose arbour was made up by Charles Atkinson of Iron Awe. It is essentially a series of hoops supported by four legs rising from wooden planters. Originally we planted two climbing roses in each container, but they now contain the pink form of Clematis armandii. We have installed another central stem to give extra support to the structure with a circular bench around the base of it. This small quad is shortly to be relandscaped with a new trellis for climbing plants screening the east wall.
The lavender garden in front of Kettell Hall was created following work to install electricity cables. The garden consists of a square lawn surrounded by Lavandula ‘Munstead’ and topiary box Buxus sempervirens. The key feature of this garden is the armillary sphere. Designed by internationally-renowned sculptor David Harber, the brass sundial sits on a stone plinth. The Head Gardener at the time, Paul Lawrence, was awarded the Oxford Preservation Trust’s top accolade in 2003 for transforming a scruffy piece of lawn into a garden that enhances the subtle stonework of the hall and radically improves the view from Broad Street. We are extremely grateful to Jasper, Sarah and Simon Hunt for donating the sphere, which has proved to be key to the garden’s success.
While the college completes the construction of a significant new building, the Levine Building, we are taking the opportunity to develop several aspects of the gardens. The Library Quad, Rose Arbour Quad and Wilderness will all be replanted. In addition, a handsome glasshouse is planned for the east wall of the college gardens along with cold frames and a new stone-clad tool shed. Together with the restoration of the long herbaceous border running almost the full extent of the north lawn, this represents the most significant redevelopment of the gardens in recent years. It is an exciting project which will span three years.