Gardens

Wadham’s extensive gardens provide a wonderful environment for fellows and students as well as visitors.

History

Originally a series of orchards and market-gardens carved out from the property of the Augustinian priory, Wadham’s gardens have been significantly modified over the course of the last four hundred years. Gardens were first created under Warden Wilkins (1648-59) as a series of formal rectangles laid out around a (then fashionable) mound which was surmounted by a figure of Atlas. 

These gardens were notable for their collection of mechanical contrivances (including a talking statue and a rainbow-maker), a number of obelisks and a Doric temple.  Under Warden Wills (1783-1806), the terrain was radically remodelled and landscaped (by Shipley) and became notable for a distinguished collection of trees. Part of the gardens were sold for the building of Rhodes House in the 1920s and the gardens were further restored and reshaped following the Second World War.

Our gardens

From the formal front quad, walk past the Chapel into the magnificent Fellows’ Garden; an ideal place for rest, relaxation or quiet reading under the boughs of one of the mature trees. Surrounding the Fellows’ Garden are the Warden’s Garden, the Fellows’ Private Garden and the Cloister Garden (originally the cemetery).

By the McCall MacBain Graduate Centre is the Barbara Naylor Garden, a terrace displaying mostly scented plants and shrubs, set close to the Back Quad, Webb Quad and the White Scented Garden. The Bruce Naylor Garden in Webb Quad is the College's newest garden. Featuring a sloping lawn for informal seating and drama performance as well as feathered paving and planting, the garden is designed to provide a place of tranquility within the quadrangle. 

Wadham’s collection of trees includes a holm oak, silver pendent lime, tulip tree, golden yew, purple beech, cedar of Lebanon, gingko, giant redwood, tree of heaven, incense cedar, Corsican pine, magnolia and a rare Chinese gutta-percha. Among other curiosities are an eighteenth-century ‘cowshed’ set into the remnants of the Royalist earthworks of 1642, and a sculpture of a seated Warden Bowra by John Doubleday.

Our gardeners

Head Gardener, Andrew Little , ably assisted by Michael O’Day, have been caring for Wadham’s gardens for some 30 years and 50 years respectively.  Fellow Matthew Kempshall is the College Keeper of the Gardens.

Tour the College gardens with Andrew in the video below.

Opening times

Wadham's Front Quad and Fellows' Garden are open to the public at the following times:
Term Time     13.00 - 16.15
Out of Term    10.30 - 11.45; 13.00 -16.15

Garden treasures

College greenhouses contain a number of treasures, not least of which is a 200 year old grape vine which dates back to the Napoleonic wars. The desert grape, Black Hamburg, provides delicious fruit for High Table and Senior Common Room dinners. The Fellows’ Private Garden contain Wadham’s collection of rare ‘fossil’ trees including Monkey Puzzles, Ginkos , a Dawn Redwood, a deciduous conifer, and a Wollemi pine.