Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
University of Oxford Botanic Garden
The University of Oxford Botanic Garden, the oldest botanic garden in Great Britain, and the third oldest scientific garden in the world, was founded in 1621 as a physic garden growing plants for medicinal research. Today it contains over 8,000 different plant species on 4 1/2 acres (18,000 m²). It is one of the most diverse yet compact collections of plants in the world and includes representatives from over 90% of the higher plant families.
In 1621, Sir Henry Danvers , the First Earl of Danby, contributed £5,000 (equivalent to £683,000 in 2002) to set up a physic garden for "the glorification of the works of God and for the furtherance of learning." He chose a site on the banks of the River Cherwell at the northeast corner of Christ Church Meadow, belonging to Magdalen College. Part of the land had been the Jewish burial ground until the Jews were expelled from Oxford (and the rest of England) in 1290.
The Garden was the site of frequent visits in the 1860's by Oxford mathematics professor Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (pen name Lewis Carroll) and the Liddell children, Alice and her sisters. Like many of the places and people of Oxford, it was a source of inspiration for Carroll's stories in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The Garden's waterlily house can be seen in the background of Sir John Tenniel's illustration in "The Queen's Croquet-Ground".
Another Oxford professor and literary genius, J. R. R. Tolkien, often spent his time at the Garden reposing under his favorite tree, Pinus Nigra . The enormous Austrian pine is much like the Ents of his Lord of the Rings trilogy, the walking, talking tree-people of Middle Earth.
The Garden is comprised of three sections: 1) the Walled Garden, surrounded by the original seventeenth century stonework and home to the Garden's oldest tree, an English yew, Taxus baccata; 2) the Glasshouses, which allow the cultivation of plants needing protection from the extremes of British weather; and 3) the area outside the walled area between the Walled Garden and the River Cherwell. A satelite garden, the Harcourt Arboretum, is located six miles south of Oxford.
- Botanical family beds
The core collection of hardy plants are grouped in long, narrow, oblong beds by botanical family and ordered according to the classification system devised by nineteenth century botanists, Bentham and Hooker. The families represented in the Walled Garden include: Acanthaceae, Amaranthaceae, Amaryllidaceae, Apocynaceae, Araceae, Aristolochiaceae, Berberidaceae , Boraginaceae, Campanulaceae, Caryophyllaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Cistaceae, Commelinaceae, Compositae, Convolvulaceae, Crassulaceae, Cruciferae, Cyperaceae, Dioscoreaceae, Dipsacaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Gentianaceae, Geraniaceae, Gramineae, Hypericaceae, Iridaceae, Juncaceae, Labiatae, Leguminosae, Liliaceae, Linaceae, Loasaceae , Lythraceae, Malvaceae, Onagraceae, Paeoniaceae, Papaveraceae, Phytolaccaceae , Plantaginaceae, Plumbaginaceae, Polemoniaceae , Polygonaceae, Portulacaceae, Primulaceae, Ranunculaceae, Rosaceae, Rubiaceae, Rutaceae, Saxifragaceae, Solanaceae, Umbelliferae, Urticaceae, Verbenaceae, Violaceae.
In 1983, The National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG) chose Oxford Botanic Garden to cultivate the national collection of euphorbia. One of the rarest plants in the collection is Euphorbia stygiana, with only ten plants left existing in the wild. The Garden is propagating the species as quickly as possible to reduce the possibility of it becoming extinct.
- Economic beds
Eight beds in the southwest corner of the Garden represent plants used for food, clothing, shelter, and medicine. Examples include Urtica dioica, the common stinging nettle, used in the seventeenth century to make a fabric finer than linen; Tanacetum vulgare, Tansy, previously used to treat intestinal parasites; and Datura stramonium, the thorn apple, currently being tested for treatment of Parkinson's disease.
- Variegated plants
Two beds in the northwest corner of the Garden contain variegated plants laid out according to the classification system devised at the Garden by Professor C. D. Darlington and former Superintendent J. K. Burras in the 1970s. Examples include Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum', a highly invasive plant introduced in the Middle Ages as a potherb boiled like spinach, and used in the treatment of gout; Weigela praecdox 'Variegata', a compact shrub suitable for a small garden; and Cornus alternifolia 'Argentea' known as the pagoda dogwood .
- Hybrids and parents
- Bearded irises
One bed in the northeast corner of the Garden contains a display of bearded irises each May. Examples include Iris 'Eileen' and Iris 'Golden Encore'. Some of the varieties grown in the Garden are not grown anywhere else.
- Wall borders
The borders along the foot of the Wall contain collections that thrive in the microclimate created by the Wall. The cool east border includes ferns, Stachyurus praecox, Astrantia major, and Equisetum telmateia. The dry, shaded south border includes Jasminum nudiflorum, Hydrangea anomala petiolaris, Lonicera fragrantissima and L. x purpusii, and the unusual and rare Ercilla volubilis and Arisarum proboscoideum. The southeast border contains the bamboo collection.
The west and north borders contain plant collections grouped by their geographical origin. The Sino-Japanese collection at the southwest border includes Clerodendrum bungei. The North American collection at the west border includes Fremontodendron californicum. The European collection at the northwest border includes Cliantus puniceus. The Mediterranean collection at the north border includes Euphorbia myrsinites. The South American collection at the north border includes Acca sellowiana. The South African collection at the northeast border includes Kniphofia caulescens.
The house is an aluminum replica of the original 1893 wooden house and grows seasonal] flowers such as primulas, abutilons, fuchsias, and achimenes . Various exhibitions which change throughout the year are displayed in the centre area.
- Alpine House
Plants which cannot grow to their full potential outside are displayed in this house. The displays are changed regularly so that there is always something in flower.
A collection of ferns from around the world are housed here including Platycerium bifurcatum (stag's horn fern ), Lygodium japonicum (a climbing fern), and Tricomanes speciosum (a filmy fern native to Britain).
- Tropical Lily House
The tank in the lily house built in 1851 by Professor Charles Daubeny, Keeper of the Garden at the time, is the oldest existing part of the glasshouses. Tropical water lilies grow in boxes in the tank, including the hybrid Nymphaea x daubenyana named in honour of Professor Daubeny in 1874. Also growing in the house are economic plants including bananas, sugar cane, and rice, and the papyrus reed, Cyperus papyrus, a native of river banks in the Middle East. Flowering high in the glasshouse is yellow periwinkle, Allamanda cathartica.
- Orchid House
This house grows a collection of orchids aimed at showing the diversity of growth habit in the Orchidaceae, the largest family of flowering plants in the world. Bromeliads such as Ananas comosus, or pineapple, are also grown in the house.
- Palm House
The largest glasshouse in the Garden, this house grows palms and a large number of economic plants including citrus fruits, pepper, sweet potato, pawpaw, olive, coffee, ginger, coconut, cocoa, cotton, and oil palm. There is a collection of cycads which look like palms but are unrelated. Several important teaching collections present include the Acanthaceae including the shrimp plant Justicia brandegeana, the Gesneriaceae, and a large number of Begonia species.
- Succulent House
Plants in this house come from arid areas of the world and demonstrate ways in which plant forms economise the use of water.
Outside the Walled Garden
- Rock Garden
- Bog Garden
- River Bank
- Herbaceous Border
- 1648 Collection
- Glasshouse Borders
- Official website
- Virtual tour
- The Friends of Oxford Botanic Garden
- Oxfordshire: History of Oxford Botanic Garden
==Notes==Lawrence H. Officer, "Comparing the Purchasing Power of Money in Great Britain from 1264 to 2002." Economic History Services, 2004, URL: http://www.eh.net/hmit/ppowerbp/.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details