The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Middlesex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Wilshire, Dorsetshire, Hampshire, Sussex, and Kent in the Summer of 1832

Christ Church meadow walks

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The walks in Christ Church meadow differ from those of Magdalen chiefly in having a greater breadth of turf on each side, and in being more thinly planted with trees; and they might be improved in a similar manner. For the scattered trees in the meadows of both colleges others might be substituted, and added, so as to form an arboretum. Christ Church avenue is much injured since we last saw it, by the decay of the top branches of many of the trees. The area of the quadrangle of Christ Church is a level square of turf, with a basin (possessing till lately a fountain) in the centre, and surrounded by a broad terrace walk about 3 ft. higher than the turf. The sunk area might easily be rendered a most beautiful flower-garden, like that of the Tuileries. In the private garden here are two fig trees, said to have been planted by Cardinal Wolsey, and a very old mulberry tree. The fig trees, which are against a wall, have been cut down so often, that they show no shoots older than twenty or thirty years, and, as these proceed from stools concealed by the surface soil, no stranger could discover that the trees are old: in truth, they may rather be considered as suckers from the old trees which formerly stood on the same spot. They bear every year; and, a few days ago, a plate of ripe figs from one of them was exhibited at the Oxford horticultural show. The mulberry tree is a large and venerable fragment, supported by numerous wooden posts, and bound and tied together by iron hoops and rods. The heart wood is entirely rotted out, and the circumferential wood is separated into parts, round each of which the bark is advancing in a manner which promises ultimately to give them the appearance of so many separate natural stems, as we frequently find to be the case in the very old olive plantations in Italy; for example, at Terni. In the upper part of the tree is a thriving plant of the common elder, which has this year made a shoot 5 ft. long.