A few miles south of Oxford is beautiful Waterperry Gardens, once a school of gardening, now well-known for its fine herbaceous border, rose garden and river walk. It is also home to a tea-shop serving refreshments and light lunches, which makes for a pleasant break after a few hours shopping in Oxford city centre.
Over the years, I have visited Waterperry Gardens many times and have admired the mature Seville Bitter Orange tree, Citrus aurantium, growing and thriving in a small greenhouse. I seem to recall being told it was a seedling, which grew through the bottom of its tub to become firmly anchored to the ground beneath.
Sadly, the glasshouse has been neglected, and is now in a dangerous state with many broken panes of glass. It was covered in a protective netting which has now become a mess of dangling string.
Why this neglect, when other areas of the garden have benefited from new investment? I don't know, but hope that the Seville Orange will survive. It is rare to find such a fine fruiting specimen in an English garden.
page created 11th March 2005
I the e-mailed the office at Waterperry Gardens and asked about the orange tree. Here is what they said:-
We too are sad that the Orange Tree House is now in such a sad state. We hope to restore it and use it as an information centre but the cost is very high.
We are trying to get a grant but in the meantime we have started a 'Save the Orange Tree Appeal' (donation box situated in the garden shop) and hope to raise enough money to get started this year.
We don't know the exact history of the Orange Tree. I am sure it was not a seedling but originally planted in a tub, probably now rooted through. The nearest we can get to its date is that a lady employed in the house just before the 1914/18 war remembered a small orange tree in a tub in that house. I have known it since 1942 when it was already a large tree.
So, get over to Waterperry Gardens and help 'Save the Orange Tree' !
Recently e-mailed to me from Malaysia, by former Waterperry student W.C.Wong ('Ching'), is this 1963 photo of the orange house in its prime. The orange tree with oranges is on the right.
updated 11th November 2006
May 2008 brings good news! The glasshouse has been beautifully restored and the thriving orange tree has pride of place.
I like to think that perhaps this web-site helped just a bit in the decision to restore this lovely old building. Whether that's true or not, it's certainly 'Well done, Waterperry!'
See the May 2008 update at the bottom of this page!