Virginia Barton

Annual Report on the Oxford Union Society Garden, Michaelmas 1988


Submitted to the Senior Officers of the Oxford Union Society 

Michaelmas Term 1988


Three-and-a-half years’ investment (modest), labour (strenuous) and attention (constant) are beginning to bear fruit in the Society’s garden.

Some improvements have been made since the Report of ‘87, two of the more significant being the replacement of the railings on the wall along St. Michael Street, and the paving of two areas most susceptible to wear and tear at the front entrance. Well aware that both these schemes cost money, I hope Members will admit they were well worth the expense.

Garden 4The Society may wish to consider what to do with the bald patch in front of the Steward’s house, bearing in mind the heavy wear this patch regularly suffers.

Needless to say, I would like to put two more schemes forward for your consideration. The first was mooted some time ago and concerns the erection of “matching” railings on the wall at the back of the Union (Frewin Yard) and a new, secure gate in the Woodward style. Mr. Bradbeer was asked to submit drawings.

The second was touched upon in last year’s Report but was shelved due to the urgency of paving the areas at the front entrance. It involves another area of paving, the “bulge” in the large bed adjacent to St. Michael Street. This space was once gravelled (and used for sitting out) which may account for the lamentable soil conditions here. A semi-circular paved space, backed by a small retaining wall and surrounded by a low stout wall, wide enough to sit on, would create a focal-point visually, and additional summer seating. The Hon. Gardener would be happy to explain this proposal on site.

Planting, on a long-term basis, is almost complete. The beds in front of the Old Library are now graced with skimmia and sarcocca – optimistic perhaps, considering the depth of the soil there, but one gardens as one travels, hopefully. I would request the sum of £200 to cover the cost of what, I sincerely hope, will be the last large outlay on plants and shrubs. The Society will wish to make an allowance for the replacement of those shrubs in Frewin Yard ravaged by the builders.

The many benefactors are recorded on the Viridarium, hanging in the bar. If this objet d’art is hung at readable height it will encourage les autres to step forward and cough up. The desire for a Monkey Puzzle is undiminished.

There has been an encouraging heightening of “garden awareness”. Both the dropping of litter and gratuitous vandalism have decreased during the last year. I write this before the Matriculation Drinks and Bonfire parties.

As always the Hon. Gardener wishes to record her thanks to the Presidents, their Officers, the Senior Officers, the office, bar and library staff, as well as to the benefactors mentioned above.

— The Hon. Gardener



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