A garden, a pub and a meadow

The Botanic Garden with Magdalen College in the background.
The Botanic Garden with Magdalen College in the background.

It was in the 70s in Oxford on Thursday (and again today) and we decided to spend it walking through the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and around the Christ Church meadow.

The “healing garden” was founded in 1621, according to the Fodor’s travel guide we are using. It still has exhibits of medicinal plants among its 6,000 species on display, and is the oldest such garden in Britain.

I love looking at flowers, but to me they are slashes of color among green leaves. Even when I learn their names, my recall of them will be gone long before the flowers wilt. But Kathy? She seemed able to identify 5,999 of the species.

A pitcher plant
A pitcher plant

My favs were the pitcher plants, or “insectiverous” species, as Fodor’s calls them. They were in one of the glass greenhouses, the one that was free of bugs.

A flower in one of the greenhouses.
A flower in one of the greenhouses.

We were admittedly poor reporters during our walk through the garden, rarely recording the names of the occasional flowers or plants that Kathy didn’t know. Besides, most of the signs identifying the plants gave the Latin names, and my two years of Latin more than 50 years ago failed me.

A very odd flower
A very odd flower

From the garden, we wandered back (OK, we got lost) to the Turf Tavern, which we had passed through on our walking tour last week. Besides a wide selection of ales and spirits, the pub features good grub and signs to entertain you in the outdoor eating areas. The most photographed  while we were there was the one identifying the Turf as the place where Bill Clinton “did not inhale” while a Rhodes scholar at Oxford. Another one pointed out that the Turf makes an appearance in Thomas Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure,” yet another book to read.

Kathy orders an
Kathy orders an “Old Gold” with our lunches. It’s a Scottish ale fermented in whiskey barrels.

After lunch it was on to the Christ Church meadows, a lovely walk along the Cherwell River. Boaters were punting on the river, a team was practicing rugby on the opposite bank and cattle were grazing in the meadow — a rural and pastoral atmosphere just a ways off tourist-clotted High Street. Coming from a city that feels increasingly overrun, we are struck daily by the calming, civilizing effect that Oxford’s many green, open spaces give to its bustling byways. (Take note, Seattle City Council.)

We hope to get into Christ Church College during “Open Door Weekend” tomorrow. The college was built in 1546 (back to Fodor’s now), founded by Cardinal Wolsey and has the largest quad in Oxford. Lewis Carroll, author of “Alice in Wonderland,” taught math there and we visited the Alice Shop across the street to buy a postcard (hope you like it, Beanne).

The walk in the Christ Church meadow along the Cherwell River.
The walk in the Christ Church meadow along the Cherwell River.

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