Things to See Near Oxford: Waterperry Gardens. Image courtesy of Ukgardenphotos via Flickr Commons.

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Waterperry Gardens

Nestled within the picturesque village of Waterperry, just a short drive from Oxford city, these gardens have been enchanting visitors for over eighty years. Whether you’re a gardening enthusiast seeking inspiration or simply looking for a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Waterperry Gardens offers a delightful escape into nature’s splendour

With its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant plant collections, it’s no wonder that Waterperry Gardens continues to captivate visitors from near and far.

Throughout the year, Waterperry Gardens also plays host to a calendar of events that celebrate the changing seasons and the vibrant spirit of the countryside. From flower shows and gardening workshops to art exhibitions and cultural festivals, there’s always something new to discover and enjoy! So, here’s how to visit if you’re in Oxford – and what to see once you get there!

What Is Waterperry Gardens in Oxford?

Spread across eight acres of meticulously landscaped grounds, Waterperry Gardens boasts a diverse array of flora, including herbaceous borders, rose gardens, water features, and orchards. Visitors can wander through fragrant herb gardens, pause to admire the vibrant colours of the perennial borders or relax by the tranquil ponds adorned with water lilies. 

The gardens are open practically all year round from 10 am to 5 pm

Why You Should Visit Waterperry Gardens

Originally established in the 1930s by Beatrix Havergal, Waterperry Gardens began as a horticultural school for ladies. 

Beatrix Havergal was a pioneering figure in the world of horticulture. Born in 1901, she was a visionary horticulturist whose passion for plants and teaching left an indelible mark on British gardening.

Havergal’s journey towards creating Waterperry Gardens began in the early 1930s when she acquired the Waterperry House estate. Inspired by her belief in the importance of practical horticultural education for women, she transformed the estate’s grounds into a horticultural school for ladies. This marked the beginning of Waterperry Gardens’ illustrious history.

Under Havergal’s guidance, Waterperry Gardens flourished into a renowned institution, attracting aspiring gardeners from all over the country. The school offered comprehensive training in various aspects of horticulture, including plant propagation, garden design, and cultivation techniques. Havergal’s hands-on approach and dedication to teaching earned her a reputation as a gifted educator and mentor.

Shovels at the ready, Beatrix and students select the right tools for the task. Pusey 1931.
Shovels at the ready, Beatrix and students select the right tools for the task. Pusey 1931. Image courtesy of Waterperry Gardens.

What to See In Waterperry Gardens

One of the highlights of Waterperry Gardens is its National Collection of Kabschia Saxifrages, a remarkable display of these delicate alpine plants. The gardens also feature a beautiful formal knot garden, meticulously designed to reflect traditional Elizabethan knotwork patterns.

The gardens cover eight acres and feature an array of attractions, including:

The Ornamental Gardens

Spanning across the estate, you will be greeted by a meticulously curated 200-foot herbaceous border featuring a vibrant tapestry of colors and textures that evolves with the seasons. Just next to this floral masterpiece lies the rose and formal gardens, where meticulously pruned hedges and manicured lawns provide a serene backdrop for an exquisite collection of roses in full bloom. So, take a leisurely stroll along the lily canal and enjoy the panoramic views of the idyllic countryside.

The Museum

Step back in time and explore the Museum of Rural Life, which is housed within the confines of an 18th-century granary building. Here, you will find a fascinating collection of implements and tools that offer insight into the agrarian heritage of the region, showcasing the ingenuity and craftsmanship of generations past.

Waterperry gardens in spring
The gardens are known for their alpine garden, formal knot garden, rose garden, water-lily canal, and riverside walk.
Just a stone’s throw from Oxford and within easy reach of London nestles Waterperry Gardens.
Just a stone’s throw from Oxford and within easy reach of London nestles Waterperry Gardens.

The Plant Centre and Garden Shop

If you are a green-fingered enthusiast, you will definitely be spoiled for choice at the on-site Plant Centre and Garden Shop, where a diverse selection of high-quality plants and gardening products awaits. From rare botanical specimens to tried-and-true favourites, you can peruse an extensive range of offerings sourced from the Waterperry gardens themselves and beyond.

The Gallery and Gift Shop

Now, if you have a penchant for art and unique gifts, the gallery and gift shop have an eclectic array of treasures waiting to be discovered. Here, you will find works by local artists and artisans, as well as a curated selection of artisanal crafts and souvenirs. The gallery and gift shop also offers the perfect opportunity to take home a memento of your visit to Waterperry Gardens.

The Tea Shop

After a leisurely exploration of the gardens and museum, unwind and recharge at the charming tea shop. Nestled amidst the verdant surroundings, the tea shop offers a delightful selection of refreshments, from freshly brewed teas and aromatic coffees to delectable homemade cakes and pastries.

How to Visit Waterperry Gardens

Visiting Waterperry Gardens from Oxford is relatively straightforward and offers a pleasant journey through the scenic Oxfordshire countryside. The gardens are also accessible to visitors in wheelchairs (which are available on-site as well). 

A map of Waterperry Gardens
A map of Waterperry Gardens courtesy of their website.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get there:

  1. By Car:

    • Waterperry Gardens is approximately 8 miles east of Oxford city center, and the journey takes around 20 minutes by car, depending on traffic.
    • From Oxford, you can take the A40 heading east towards Wheatley.
    • At the roundabout in Wheatley, take the first exit onto the B4027 (signposted Waterperry).
    • Follow the B4027 for about 3 miles until you reach Waterperry Village. The entrance to Waterperry Gardens will be on your left.
  2. By Public Transport:

    • While there isn’t a direct bus or train service to Waterperry Gardens, you can use public transport combined with a short walk or taxi ride.
    • From Oxford city center, you can take a bus to Wheatley, such as the 280 or U1. From Wheatley, it’s about a 1.5-mile walk to Waterperry Gardens.
    • Alternatively, you can take a taxi from Oxford directly to Waterperry Gardens. Taxis are readily available in Oxford and can drop you off at the entrance.
  3. Cycling or Walking:

    • For the more adventurous, cycling or walking from Oxford to Waterperry Gardens can be a delightful experience, especially on a sunny day.
    • There are cycling routes and footpaths that lead from Oxford to Waterperry, offering beautiful views of the countryside along the way.
    • Make sure to plan your route in advance and consider the distance and terrain before setting out.

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Things to See Near Oxford: Waterperry Gardens. Image courtesy of Ukgardenphotos via Flickr Commons.

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