Spring has Sprung at the NGS Garden Open Day at Trinity College, Oxford!

Mar 31, 2017 - POSTED BY Anna Halloran - Gardeners Choice

As I have just been honoured to have my own garden accepted by the NGS to be open to the public in May, I searched through which of their gardens to visit on Mother’s Day with my son, and came up with Trinity College in Oxford. The college itself is incredibly imposing and was founded in 1555 when Thomas Pope purchased a former monastic foundation and one of these earlier buildings remains today, built in 1421! The quadrangle itself has approximately 25,000 sq. metres of beautifully manicured lawns with several mature trees strategically planted. But we were headed for the woodland area, where the Spring flowers were in bloom and the birds were rejoicing. This robin was showing off in front of quite a crowd, singing his heart out for us all.

Under the trees in this woodland area, which is tucked away behind the college buildings, Spring has sprung! A host of Daffodils, Hellebores, Fritillarias, Tulips and Anenomes were bathing in the sunlight. Photo 2 shows the subtle colours of Helleborus sternii, which have pale, pinkish-green, large nodding flowers and dark green leaves. They are evergreen perennials and flower reliably from late Winter through to Spring. Photo 3 is a beautiful pink, single variety that I think is Helleborus orientalis Pink Lady. These Hellebores flower from February through to April. They are evergreen and look wonderful planted in a semi shade setting, as the pale pink glows in this light.

Grass paths wind through the woodland planting and one of these paths leads you to this lovely, circular wooden bench built around the trunk of the tree. The bench blends in so well here and doesn’t interrupt the picture of a ‘natural’ landscape. There are a few different types of Daffodils planted in these woods, but did you know that the Daffodil Data Bank lists over 13,000 hybrids of Daffodils! The Latin name for Daffodil is Narcissus, and other common names are Daffadowndilly and Jonquil. Narcissus was formally described by Linnaeus in his Species Plantarum in 1753 and they are thought to originate from the Iberian Peninsula. Then in Photo 5 we have the pretty blue of the Anenome Blanda, with their intensely blue, daisy like flowers. Once planted they cover the ground quickly and are great when left to naturalise in woodland settings.

I couldn’t resist including a photo of this natural ‘predator’ hiding in amongst the bulbs. They say black cats bring good luck after all… Photo 7 brings us back to the more formal grounds of Trinity College.  It depicts a stunningly sculpted Magnolia grandiflora in front of the College Chapel planted in a bed edged with Buxus (box) and punctuated with spiral topiary trees. The Chapel, set in the front quad, is one of the first iconic views you see as you enter the main gate. 

The last 2 photos are taken in the Fellows’ Garden, which is a private garden for the fellows of Trinity College. I was particularly taken with this circular pond and the 2 magnificent stone statues that spout forth water. The college website lists them as being ‘seventeenth century limestone heraldic beasts’ and they brought a smile to my face. The NGS or National Gardens Scheme raises money for many wonderful charities, such as Marie Curie, Macmillan’s Cancer Support and the Queen’s Nursing Institute by opening beautiful gardens around the UK to the public. To date I understand it has donated £50 million to charity! Why not support them this year and visit a garden yourself? https://www.ngs.org.uk/