Friends News

Friends News













On December 15th 2006 The Botanic Garden completed the purchase of Palmers Leys, fifty acres of the original Nuneham Park estate which lies at the top of the Meadow, Limewood and Bluebell Wood  (see the area outlined in red on the map).

This once in a lifetime opportunity has been made possible by a Friends Appeal which together with several special events has raised £71,351   and gained us a substantial interest free loan from one of our members. There have also been two generous donations from two Trusts but we still need to raise around £60,000.

Plans for restoration

Palmers Leys is labelled on an estate map drawn up when Simon Harcourt bought the Nuneham estate in 1710. It has fine views, a few old trees and is little changed other than having been used for arable farming since being sold from the estate. The purchase will reunite the Arboretum laid out in 1835 with the rest of the estate and Capability Brown park and which are also owned by Oxford University (although the house is leased and most of the farmland tenanted).

The Garden has sought advice from the very distinguished landscape architect Kim Wilkie, who previously drew up the 10 year plan for the existing arboretum and meadow. The proposal is to replant some of Palmers Leys as deciduous woodland and to develop the remainder as species rich meadow.

The expansion of the Arboretum to 130 acres will have many benefits:

  • A greater area to conserve and nurture local flora and fauna

  • A reduction in the edge effect – the proportion of woodland suffering contamination from outside

  • The opportunity to incorporate the restoration of the habitat into education programmes

  • The redevelopment will be a substantial new interest for visitors

  • Offering the medium term possibility of greater access to the Grade 1 parkland

The continuing appeal

We still need to raise the balance of the purchase price (£60,000) and to pay off our loan. We hope that Friends will continue to be generous. We shall be:

  • Writing again to all Friends

  • Organising fund raising events

  • Appealing to other possible donors

We will be holding regular visits to tell donors about the developing plans.

In addition to the purchase Botanic garden and Harcourt Arboretum will need substantial funds for the restoration. A particularly urgent need is funding for a new larger and weatherproof car park along the roadside at the edge of the meadow. This will be landscaped with substantial tree planting as in Kim Wilkie’s plan and allow much greater visitor numbers (and income) throughout the year.


Please send donations to the Friends Office, University Botanic Garden, Rose Lane, Oxford OX1 4AZ  (cheques made payable to the Friends of Oxford Botanic Garden)


Jane Jacobs

Gardener at Myself
I'm a passionate gardener, who loves the yearly Chelsea Flower Show and Gardeners World! I also enjoy my own garden experiments regularly in my spare time.

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