Our gardens and green spaces are of great scientific importance as well as fantastic places to relax and unwind. The University Parks, a five minute walk from the city centre, cover 70 acres of beautiful parkland.
Originally owned by Merton College, the parks were purchased by the University in the 1850s. They are open to the public every day of the year until dusk (the only exception being Christmas Eve) and boast a choice of walks, a large collection of trees and plants and space for informal games and picnics. The University cricket pitch sits in the middle.
Wytham Woods is a 1,000 acre area of ancient semi-natural woodland, three miles to the west of the city centre, and is one of the most researched areas of woodland in the world. The site has an exceptionally rich flora and fauna, with more than 500 species of plants and 800 species of butterflies and moths. Wytham has a wealth of long term biological data, including decades of bird and badger data, and climate change data for the last two decades. There is public access to the site including a free permit scheme for walkers, a schools outreach programme, and guided walks for natural history groups.
The Botanic Garden is the oldest in Britain. Founded in 1621 to grow plants for medicinal research, today it contains more than 8,000 different plant species on just 4.5 acres. Important for its conservation work it also supports the University’s teaching and research. Harcourt Arboretum, located south of Oxford at Nuneham Courtenay, comprises 130 acres of the best collection of trees in Oxfordshire with some of the oldest redwoods in the UK. Seasonal highlights include wildflower meadows, rhododendrons and bluebell woods. Both are open throughout the year.