Virginia Barton

Annual Report on the Oxford Union Society Garden, Michaelmas 1987

Garden 2


Submitted to the Senior Officers of the Oxford Union Society 

Michaelmas Term 1987


It is pleasing to report some improvement in the garden and, considering the relatively small capital outlay, there is some cause for satisfaction. However, gardeners (like farmers) must have their moan.

The railings are still not re-erected along St, Michael Street, the delay at the Planning Department seemingly more to blame than Mr. Di Pinto, the charmer from Capri, who hopes to put them up in November. He will, incidentally, submit an estimate for similar railings for the wall in Frewin Yard and also the cost of new gates there, thus ensuring a Fort Knox style of security.

The litter dropped in both the front and back gardens is still shameful despite the colossal green rubbish bins. These monsters, though less offensive than the previous arrangements, are hardly a welcome greeting as one approaches the Union from St. Michael Street. But the plants and shrubs so tentatively put in 3 years ago have grown and prospered and in about 10 years we may have a fine garden.

All these kind donations will be individually and permanently labelled and in due course a Roll of Benefactors will be hung in some prominent position in the building. People’s generosity is always astounding; the fine collection of bulbs enjoyed last Hilary term was the gift of the Senior Librarian and the collection of shrubs gracing Frewin Yard – that of the Senior Treasurer.

An ex-Senior Librarian has just given a small tree for this area which is under the care of Terence Bull. One ex-Prime Minister gave a Corylus contorta and the new Chancellor of the University – a collection of Berberis. Lady Mander has given a large number of geraniums and acanthus and two Members have given small trees in memory of friends.

Planting during the coming 6 months is somewhat curtailed until the railings are in place. Of the £100 given for the garden in April ‘87, (3) £56.00 was spent on shrubs and plants for delivery in November, and £46.50 was spent on summer bedding plants. For the season October ’87 – end March ‘88 I would ask for a further £100 to be made available which will be spent on shrubs for the large bed backing onto St. Michael Street.

I have a scheme to pave and enclose with a low wall the “bulge” in this bed. Older Members tell me this used to be gravelled (with a bench) which may account for the sorry state of the soil in this patch. A drawing would of course be circulated for approval if this scheme gets off the ground.

The Union is becoming an even more popular venue for wedding receptions in the vacations and the garden must figure in many a photograph. The proposed small paved area backed by rambling roses (already in situ) would provide a suitable background and give additional outdoor sitting space.

Andrew Mugglestone has worked hard on the grass and with Chris English tackled many an awkward job.

I would like to record my thanks to the Presidents and their Officers, the Senior Officers, the office, the bar and library staffs. Without their support and help this gardener would fail to function.

— The Hon. Gardener


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