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Springtime in Oxford

Home > Oxford > Day Trips | Parks | Walks
by Cressida Ryan (subscribe)
Classicist and traveller
Published March 16th 2014
One of Britain's oldest cities, Oxford in springtime is a wonderful display of the new birth of blossom and blooms amid the antiquarian buildings.

Half way down the High Street you can guarantee to be in the way of a photographer trying to snap the famous 'pink tree'. For most of the year it's an imposing tree looming overhead as you walk past the university church of St Mary the Virgin into Radcliffe Square, but in spring time it's a magnificent arboreal archway.

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Oxford High Street's Pink Tree


Outside Hertford College stands a magnolia tree, its buds opening up to look like a giant candelabra.

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Magnolia outside Hertford College


Stray up the road and the University Parks are splendid, with bulbs, lawns and a river all waking up to the fertile season.

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The river through the university parks


Over at Merton College, trees shower blossom over banks of daffodils, and areas of lawn teem with flowers.

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Spring flowers at Merton College


Bushes with coloured stems are vibrant with green shoots.

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Bush in Merton College


The combination of trees in blossom and carpets of flowers underneath gives an all round burst of colour across the college.

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Outside Merton College chapel


In the Fellows' Garden whole banks erupt in splendid colour. Who knew there were so many different kinds of daffodil? Look closely around Oxford and you'll find plenty. Over in the Botanic Gardens they're neatly ordered in the medicine beds. Who knew, moreover, that daffodils were a source of Galantamine, a drug used to treat Alzheimer's?



The Botanic Gardens have always existed to be both useful and beautiful, and in spring they're a glorious place to visit.

The buildings around the area glow warmly in the sun.

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Magdalen College from Merton Fellows' Garden


Stepping further away from the city centre, a short venture down Iffley Road will take you past the university sports ground and other green places, and en route to Donnington Bridge (where you can access the river), you'll stumble past one of the most amazing sets of trees in Oxford. Outside the Gladiator Social Club I'm surprised there aren't more crashes from people stunned by the white froth.

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Trees outside the Gladiator Club


These full-blown blossom storms are impressive, but spring never arrives all at once, and Oxford is resplendent with small bunches of flowers, and those just beginning to bud. Every day it's slightly different, and the city rewards regular wanders.

Back at Merton College, the new buds were evident everywhere.

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Buds in Merton College Gardens


Oxford in Bloom recognises how much effort people put into the botanical life of the city. From manicured college gardens to wild meadows, the city is a riot of colour. On a beautiful spring day it's teeming with people enjoying it, and I for one am going to be joining them.
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Why? The city in beautiful bloom
When: March / April
Where: Oxford
Cost: parks / city are free, but colleges / Botanic Gardens have costs - see websites for details
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