Outside your window the sun is shining and the weather is warm and inviting. Can you imagine a more perfect way to spend the day than to visit the Botanic Gardens at Oadby? When I first submitted a sample blog for consideration as a student blogger, my subject was the Botanic Gardens which are located just off London Road and easily accessible via a 10 minute bus ride or a relaxing 45 minute walk through the residential areas of Leicester. It’s actually quite nice to think of the duality of Leicester’s London Road with one direction leading you to the train station and the city centre while the opposite direction will lead you past Victoria Park and, with a slight left onto Glebe Road, the entrance to the enchanting gardens. Although I made my first trip to the gardens in the autumn, I thought it best to wait until the spring to share my thoughts and to encourage my hard working colleagues to take a break and enjoy the local wonders of Leicester.
You will, of course, be aware of the Botanic Gardens as it will invariably feature in some way on the University of Leicester’s promotional advertising. (Isn’t it strange that the Charles Wilson Building never does? Could it be because it looks as though the blueprints for two separate buildings were stuck together and the architect was too embarrassed to admit his mistake?) I have always loved flowers so to see the abundance of flora in these gardens is a particular treat to the fields of my imagination. There you will find Azaleas, Bleeding Hearts, Bluebells, Fuchsia, Lilacs, and Roses, not necessarily in alphabetical order. Whether you wish to explore the greenhouses filled with exotic plants from desert and jungle climates or to walk the well manicured lawns that stretch out in front of the lovely undergraduate houses, the Botanic Gardens at Oadby are pleasantly comparable to the most prestigious of gardens. There are even a few curiosities, my favorite being the Monkey Puzzle tree which is an evergreen native to Chile and western Argentina and was first introduced to me in the 1947 classic The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.
The occasion of my spring visit was ostensibly due to much needed stress relief, but it was also an opportunity for social enjoyment. I recently presented my subject for dissertation to a panel of English lecturers who would then assign me the appropriate adviser and offer suggestions for the benefit of my research. The process was simple, in theory, but as I have worked with these lecturers and have come to form a profound admiration for their intelligence and experience, I was naturally anxious to meet with their approval. Thankfully the presentation went very well and I am delighted with my chosen advisers (I was unique in being assigned two advisers so I have the luxury of a team rather than a partnership). But as I anticipated that the occasion would prove stressful to my colleagues as well, I suggested we plan a visit to the gardens immediately afterward. This turned out to be one of my best ideas, especially since several of our members had not had an opportunity of visiting the gardens at all. It really is the variety of the Botanic Gardens that elevates it above the simpler pleasantries of the parks nearer the University. It was so amusing to view the multicolored fish swimming in the fountain, paralleled on either side with red, white, and yellow roses which are just coming into bloom. It was fun to traverse the herb gardens, the towering azaleas, and the little ponds and it was alarming to experience the dramatic change in temperature as we entered the greenhouse jungle and encountered sinister species like the carnivorous Nepenthes. Best of all, it was wonderful getting to know my colleagues better and it was unanimously agreed that we wish we had arranged more excursions outside of the classroom. We ended our sojourn with a trip to Madison’s, also on London Road, and home to the most divine selection of cakes and gelato. Sweets for the sweet, indeed.
Music: “Jeux d’eau”-Maurice Ravel
Book:The Castle of Otranto– Horace Walpole
Film: Black Narcissus (1947)