Oxford’s Secret Gardens

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and find a tranquil garden in the heart of the city. You can see the spires of Oxford and the punts going down the river from Magdalen Bridge and have a fabulous view of a the cricket pitch. This is the oldest botanic garden in Britain and one of the oldest in the world!

You can follow in the footsteps of Tolkien, Lewis Caroll and Philip Pullman, all of whom drew inspiration from this little garden.

£5.45 for a ticket, you can easily spend a couple of hours pottering around, picnicking, sketching and taking photos.


Bussing about


Popp-ing through

There is an adorable little local outdoor coffee shop with chairs and tables


The website tells you which plants look good now so you can plan your visit and they also give handouts when you buy your ticket.


secret garden 2.jpg

Literary Facts

  • The garden was often visited in the 1860s by Lewis Carroll and the Liddell children including Alice (who is said to have inspired the main character from Alice in Wonderland). The Garden’s waterlily house can be seen in the background of Sir John Tenniel’s illustration of “The Queen’s Croquet-Ground”.


  • J. R. R. Tolkien, often spent his time at the garden under his favourite tree(which he nicknamed Laocoo) , an enormous Austrian pine, much like the Ents of The Lord of the Rings fame. There was even a ceremony for the felling of the tree in 2014
The last known photograph of Tolkien, taken by his grandson Michael on August 9th 1973. The photograph, shows the author in the Oxford Botanical Gardens leaning against one of his favorite trees, the Black Pine (Pinus Nigra), he nicknamed Laocoo.

The last known photograph of Tolkien, taken by his grandson Michael on August 9th 1973. 


  • In Philip Pullman’s  His Dark Materials, a bench in the back of the garden is one of the locations/objects that stand parallel in the two different worlds which Lyra  and Will, inhabit. In the last chapter of the trilogy, both promised to sit on the bench for an hour at noon on Midsummer’s day every year so that perhaps they may feel each other’s presence next to one another in their own worlds.

Photo from Wikipedia

See my post about my visit to Kew Gardens

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