The University's Botanic Garden runs a Winter Lecture Series every year, kicking off in late January. This year, renowned garden designers, garden historians and plantsmen will share their passion, knowledge and enthusiasm for the history of horticulture.
The talks will range in content, but there’s something to entertain everyone from the casual gardener to the hardened historian. Christopher Woodward, for instance, will be exploring the history of floristry and the cut flower trade, from the country house cutting garden and Covent Garden Market to the transformations in fashion led by Getrude Jekyll and Constance Spry. With any luck, he’ll get to the grips with the ethical and ecological controversy which surrounds the now-$40 billion global industry.
Sophieka Piebenga will explore the life of WIlliam Sawrey Gilpin: a landscape painter who, late in life, turned to landscape gardening. She’ll trace his history of gardening, which had its roots in applying the principles of painting to the improvement of landscapes, and explain how he came to work in and around Oxford. Indeed, Gilpin famously worked for Edward Vernon-Harcourt in the 1830s at Nuneham Courtenay — on ground which is now part of the University’s Harcourt Arboretum.
Elsewhere, other lectures will consider the role that gardening, agriculture and botany played in the early settlement in America — George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison did, after all, consider themselves foremost as farmers and plantsmen — as well as the ancient history of topiary.
The Botanic Garden Winter Lecture Series runs on Thursdays between 24th January and 28th March. Lectures take place in the Nelson Mandela Lecture Theatre at the Said Business School at 8pm. Tickets cost £12 per lecture or £54 for the series and can be purchased online here.