Autumn at Waterperry gardens

Today I visited Waterperry gardens in Oxford. I met up with Andrew who I had met studying at Wisely. He had previously worked here so was able to give an insiders view of the place!


Originally a site for horticultural teaching for ladies in the 1930’s, today the 8 acres of gardens are an ornamental haven for any plant enthusiast and are managed by head gardener Pat Havers.

The garden provides a real mixture of ideas, and gets the creative senses buzzing as you wander, making smooth transitions from areas of herbaceous into open grassland and shrubbery before reaching the orchard and viewing the landscape beyond.


There’s something for everyone in this garden, slightly hidden away amongst the winding back roads outside the city of Oxford. A variety of media is used, with complementary planting, creating bespoke areas which could inspire any type of garden. From the use of water or woodland thickets, shrub borders and island beds; rockery or small scale orchard, Waterperry gardens has managed to showcase an example of most aspects of garden design.


The garden also takes into account for wildlife and provides strong vistas with the connecting landscape. A particular highlight for me was the vast amount of berries on such a wide variety of plants, from Lonicera and Hypericum, to Viburnum , Ilex, Berberis and Yew (Taxus). Further interest came from hips on roses, developing flowers on Euonymus and the acorns produced on a Quercus x hispanica. I also liked the use of Phytolacca dotted through one section of the shrubbery.


It was a great time to visit, with a wide variety of Aster looking stunning in the main herbaceous border. Some of the plant combinations were truly impressive; yet the colour pallet was kept simple, despite the huge range of plants involved. For me that’s what made it work so well, keeping the colour pallet simple and just mixing the tones and hues with a variation in planting.


In addition, a recent developing interest in the last few years has been diversity within conifers. It’s so easy to overlook them and assume they all look the same, but Waterperry had a few treats for any conifer fanatics! The cones on Pseudosuga menziesii took my eye and there are some great specimens of Thuja. I’ve also seen a magnificent Thujopsis dolobrata, (not commonly grown in the UK), the largest specimen I have seen to date!

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