Our wellbeing tour of the sustainability spaces on campus starts outside Old Sessions House. You can follow along with us on foot as you read, or just keep these thoughts in mind the next time you’re crossing through campus.
After passing Old Sessions House , enjoy the mural ecology of the old stone walls.
With the natural hanging wild plants like red Valeria, in the autumn and wall flowers in the spring, pay attention to the pictures that tell you a story of times gone by.
As you continue to walk, look to your right where the grape vines grow with promise of future Christ Church wines that will delight your palate in years to come!
In spring you will be offered the most exquisite collection of wildflowers and their beauty.
Pass the Verena Holmes building, bearing to the left, and continue around the gardens past the Chaplaincy Centre and now admire the gardens and koi pond by Touchdown Café.
Now walk through the gap under the Hepworth building, with the Bookshop on your right, and enjoy the Tangled Bank, a long-established area of wildflowers.
Follow along, bearing right, past the Erasmus building, taking in the impressive flower beds managed by our Grounds and Gardens team, before turning right down the footpath that runs between Powell and Laud. Turn left and then right and admire the Jubilee Heritage orchard, see if you can spot our pear espaliers.
Continuing past Powell Building and carry on straight ahead to the front of Johnson Building. Look down the steps to your right and you will see the great hydrangeas. Here you reach your final destination, our favourite Sustainability space: Johnson Wellbeing Garden. We hope the smell of the herb garden welcomes you, and the infinite serenity within the garden brings you peace. Here you will find the vegetable and strawberry beds, the deep pond with the biggest rocks at the edge , the round table (in memory of one of our students).
Look for the start of the sensorial rockery garden… and the seating area where we hope to have a semi-permanent shelter; the meeting place for Sustainability outdoors. In this garden we plan to fire up our pizza oven sometimes, where tomatoes from the back vegetable garden, onions, garlic and some parsley could be added to your toppings. You will also see the wooden wall of the garden, where some of the hops used for our heritage ale grow. Each September there is a special hop picking ceremony, including a procession to the brewery and blessing by the Chaplains Jeremy or David. You can sample each year’s brew at events across the year, or buy bottles to take home, to enjoy as a refreshing drink for after a hard day of studying or to surprise your family with; they make wonderful little Christmas gifts.
To finish up our little tour, take a closer look at the clematis Montana plants. These will cover the wooden fence, making a display in the future, while the wonderful ancient stone wall creates a microclimate just right for you to experiment with plants there.
We have the beautiful fast growing Tree of Heaven adding a special touch to the enclosed environment, and a couple of magnificent Oak trees where a self-assured squirrel performs contortions from time to time, and a resident rabbit continues to make his home bigger. Perhaps a hedgehog is living in the cute little house built by John Hills, our Sustainability Projects Officer, who has transformed this garden over the last few years and built the ecological dead-hedge wall, the decking with seats, the benches for relaxation, and his impeccable footpath which he keeps well maintained and free of weeds! If you have an interest in plants, gardening, vegetable production, or the soothing effects of herbs, come on a tour with us and experience our sustainability spaces first-hand. It is a wonderful fulfilling experience, and an opportunity for some relaxing social interaction outdoors. You can drop in to our weekly Potter and Prune sessions that run every Wednesday during term time from 12 – 4pm (you don’t have to potter or prune if you don’t wish to!) or get in touch with us to find out more.
by Nellie Harvey (she/her), SGO Projects Officer #learningforthefuture