Harris Garden Main Features

The gardens are now under the management of, and redevelopment by, the Grounds Department to better serve the needs of the University (Autumn 2010). 

The Large Bank to the right of the entrance was created to screen the adjacent buildings from view. It is planted with a mixture of evergreen and deciduous shrubs, many of Mediterranean origin, exploiting the bank's southern aspect and good drainage.  It is undergoing major redevelopment at present.

TheOrchard, to the left of the path opposite the second half of the Green Border, contains a collection of ornamental crab-apples, including both vigorous and smaller-growing cultivars with single and double flowers in colours ranging from white to deep pink. Many of the trees also have colourful fruits and good autumn foliage. These two seasons of interest are being echoed beneath the trees with bulbs and wild flowers. Cowslips and ox-eye daisies planted five years ago have already produced numerous seedlings, while drifts of snowdrops, scillas, crocus, narcissus and snakes head fritillary provide a charming tapestry from January to late April.

The Pond was reshaped and relined with polythene in 1996 after the old liner began to leak badly. The planting was completed during 1996 and soil excavated from the enlarged pond has been used to fill a depression on the other side of the path and this area is now a wild flower meadow.

The Autumn Bank has been created by earth mounding on a small scale to create some variety of level in an otherwise flat garden. The bank, as its name implies, has small trees and shrubs chosen for their fine autumn foliage with autumn flowering herbaceous plants below. The first phase of planting took place in the winter of 1991/92. Other shrubs have since been added to create the (sheltered?) valley you see today.

The New Wood: On the other side of the main path, in the centre of the Harris Garden, are three rectangular blocks of young, mainly native trees. These were planted initially as an experiment to study establishment of young trees and of woodland flora beneath new plantations. As the trees grow, they offer scope for carefully thinning and coppicing to create irregular copses framing long views through the garden. In anticipation of their eventual contribution to the garden, the three rectangles are grandly known as "The New Wood".

The Cherry Bowl is a collection of Japanese flowering cherries is arranged around a circular clearing which has been planted with bulbs chosen to coincide with the cherry blossom. As with the crab-apple orchard, the cherries have been selected to demonstrate the range of flower variation in the group, with the bonus of colourful autumn foliage. The rough ground around the trees has been cultivated to create a low wild flower meadow bordering a smooth grass path.

The Walled Garden has been used for a variety of purposes in recent years.  It is run by the School of Biological Sciences as an area to cultivate hardy plants for research and teaching use.

The Formal Gardens, enclosed within hedges of beech and yew, continue the straight lines of the Demonstration Garden. The hedges, planted in the winter of 1990/91, surround compartments of varying scale and proportion, useful in the teaching of garden design.

The Woodland Garden along the roadside boundary, is where planting of the University's botanic garden began in the 1970s. Among the drifts of bluebell, wood anemone, celandine and other native woodland plants there are beds devoted to North American and Himalayan plants, bamboos and Ericaceous plants. In the small valley adjacent to the road (and open to it for the sake of passers-by), the original planting had become weed-infested and overgrown. It has now been replanted as a "Jungle Garden", using bamboos, palms and other bold but mainly hardy plants to create an exotic atmosphere.

The Mixed Border, more than 130 metres (420ft) long, separates the Harris Garden from the Experimental Grounds. Its western end has been replanted as part of the general renewal programme. The eastern end was replanted in Spring 1993 with a collection of nearly fifty shrub roses, ancient and modern. The backdrop of roses and other shrubs, with irregular bays for herbaceous plants, bulbs and occasional annuals will gradually be woven into a truly mixed border. Even now, the border provides a long season of interest, leading visitors from the Woodland, Formal and Heather Gardens, past the Turkey oaks which frame long views across the garden, and hence back to the Orchard and Entrance Garden.

 

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