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 acquired 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.
Our experts travel the globe to find rare trees, collect their seeds and grow them in the Arboretum, ensuring the species survive outside their threatened native habitats. Today, visitors can discover trees from around the world growing alongside tranquil British woodland and open meadows. This includes some of the oldest redwoods in the UK. Seasonal highlights include wildflower meadows, rhododendrons and bluebell woods.