Bluebell woods in Oxford

Bluebell woods in Oxford

2 minutes to read

In Oxford, UK, bluebells usually bloom from mid-April to late May. This time of the year often reminds me of my first bluebell visit to the Harcourt Arboretum. Bluebells may be found throughout the parks in Oxford, but the most beautiful place to watch these flowers is the woods at the Arboretum. 

Photo © Credits to Vy Dan Tran
Photo © Credits to Vy Dan Tran

Britain's favorite flowers

In addition to roses and daffodil, bluebells are among some of Britain's most favorite flowers. The bluebells even inspired the English writer Emily Brontë (1818 - 1848) to write the poem "The Bluebell" in 1838. Indeed, the bluebells are adorable because of their small sizes, while their purple color evokes a sense of calm. I had never seen the bluebells before coming to the UK, and the flowers really brought me happiness, because they simply reminded me of springtime.

"The Bluebell is the sweetest flower... That waves in summer air:... Its blossoms have the mightiest power... To soothe my spirit’s care." - an extract from the poem  "The Bluebell" by Emily Brontë
Photo © Credits to Vy Dan Tran
Photo © Credits to Vy Dan Tran

The Harcourt Arboretum

According to the website Britain and Britishness, the ancient woodland is the best natural habitat for bluebells. It is true that the bluebell carpets are often dense in the woods, such as the one at the Harcourt Arboretum in Oxford. My friend and I had a relaxing day out to the Arboretum and a beautiful walk into the native woodland there. Walking in the wood among the purple bluebell carpets, I felt like I was getting lost in a fairy tale. 

"In 1835, Archbishop Vernon Harcourt commissioned artist and landscape designer William Gilpin to create an eight-acre pinetum and Serpentine Ride in the parkland next to Nuneham House, where the Harcourt family lived. In 1947, the University of Oxford purchased the entire estate and created an arboretum that has grown over time to 130 acres. It was aquired by the Botanic Garden in 1963. It was designed as a place of beauty, to preserve the collection of North American conifers, and to grow trees for which the Oxford Botanic Garden was too small or the soil too alkaline." -  Arboretum Guide (https://www.botanic-garden.ox.ac.uk/arboretum-guide)

The Harcourt Arboretum is worth visiting for its magnificent well-preserved nature, and it is also great for families with young children. Apart from plants, birds, mammals, and insects, there is a wide variety of attractions. I was particularly impressed by the peacocks near the entrance, for example. 

University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum
University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum
Rose Lane, OX1 4AZ Oxford, Oxfordshire

What else in Oxford?

Other than the Harcourt Arboretum, there are multiple gorgeous bluebell walks offered in Oxfordshire that you should definitely keep in mind  -Shotover Wood, near Oxford, Basildon Park, Upper Basildon (National Trust); Greys Court, Peppard (National Trust) and Badbury Hill, Faringdon.

Apart from the bluebell woods, Oxford is worth visiting for many other reasons, such as its medieval architecture and history. For other ideas while visiting Oxford, check out Joe Thorpe's "The City of Dreaming Spires - Oxford, UK". If you have a lot of time in Oxford, don't miss out the beautiful village of  Bibury, where you can have a wonderful day trip from Oxford.

Cover picture: Photo © Credits to Vy Dan Tran

The author

Vy Tran

Vy Tran

Vy grew up in Hanoi but defines herself as a global citizen. She loves Dutch Golden Age paintings, dining at Michelin restaurants, watching warm sunsets and Italy, where she would be willing to spend her life.

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