The other day, on a single sunny afternoon sandwiched between two wet ones, I visited a well-kept secret: Worcester College's extensive gardens. For almost three years I have walked past this college at least once a week en route to the station, at certain times noticing an overhanging magnolia tree; but it was only when I met a friend, fresh from attending a wedding there, that I discovered that those walls contain a real urban oasis.
It has everything you could want in a garden: a lake, complete with ducks and geese; a small orchard; well tended lawns, and, of course, flowerbeds, bursting with blooms and alive with fat, fuzzy bees, too busy with pollen collection to even think about bothering visitors. And then there were the surprises: sunny corners filled with succulents and tropical plants, incongruous against Oxford stone walls. It is, quite simply, delightful!
We also visited the chapel, which is adorned literally from floor to ceiling. The pews are decorated with carved animals, including a dodo and a walrus, which made me wonder whether Lewis Carroll had ever visited, and his wandering eye found inspiration during a boring sermon...?
for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
All in all a lovely afternoon: I enjoyed good company, feasted on beauty, learnt new, unexpected things about dragonflies and poetry, enjoyed the sunshine - simple pleasures, freely and easily given and received.
Since my visit I have discovered Worcester's website, and the slideshow of photos makes me want to go back again, to see it in different seasons! There's also a blog by the gardening team, so presumably people who know about these things can enjoy what's going on, and maybe even pick up some useful tips.