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Oxford Botanic Garden

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Lyra & Will

Long-time readers who are aware of my obsession with the His Dark Materials series will not be surprised to find out that visiting this bench in the Oxford Botanic Garden was the highlight of my summer.


The garden is absolutely beautiful; small but impeccably tended. If I lived anywhere in the vicinity I’m sure I would frequently visit it for an edifying stroll, and maybe to sit and write. As well as the literary bench, the garden is home to what we were told was Tolkien’s favourite tree, a giant pine.


The garden has several beds of “scientific” plants, like this one. You may know salicylic acid as the active ingredient in many skincare products, but what I love most about this plant is its genus name. Filipendula (or in its less uncommon English usage, filipendulous) means “hanging by a thread”, which is a word I have long been trying to get into a conversation/story/novel. :)


A rambler (Rosa Wichuraiana) which smelt delicious.


Euphorbia Stygiana, a relative of the poinsettia, my Aunt tells me.


Nymphaea Escarboucle, a nymph carbuncle waterlily.

And a couple of Oxford photo opportunities: the Radcliffe Camera and the Bridge of Sighs.

radcliffe camera
bridge of sighs

I didn’t see the amazing Victoria Regia, and I don’t know whether the jade vine was in bloom when I visited, but here is an interesting video, with a sneaky dig at Cambridge at the end.

And finally, if you’re seeking some accompaniment to your knitting this week, may I recommend Zuleika Dobson or An Oxford Love Story by Max Beerbohm, available on Librivox? I haven’t read it since I was an undergraduate myself, but I remember it had me hooting with laughter. Let me know if you listen & enjoy it.

15th July, 2012  // Travel // tags: , , .


  1. jani says:

    Filipendulous actually sounds like a great name for a knitting pattern! I remember loving the little Botanic Garden also when we visited Oxford a few years ago – thanks for stirring some wonderful memories.

  2. Amy says:

    LYRA! WILL! RADCLIFFE CAMERA! When my family and I visited Oxford as part of our London trip a couple of years ago, I very nearly chained myself to a bench somewhere on the university grounds. And His Dark Materials keeps popping up in my periphery of late–if I weren’t deadline knitting, I would drop everything and dive right in.

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