Oxford is the first University Botanic Gardens in the UK (1652) and wanted a new, arts installation-like planted space that was very contemporary but with a strong narrative about climate change and what this might mean for the types of plants used in gardens in Oxford in the future.  The project involves repeating “shard”-like areas of three biogeographic plant communities; North American Prairie, South African Drakensberg grassland, and Eurasian Steppe.

Merton Borders - wild flower borders at the Oxford Botanic Garden from Oxford Botanic Garden on Vimeo.

Sowing November 2011
Oversowing previously planted material in November 2011. Tom Price, the curator at Oxford and a key contributer to the success of the project is in the foreground.

Weeding July 2012
Structure in the first growing season is provided by material planted at a density of approximately 1 plant/2-3m². Many small sown seedlings can be seen that will fill in the spaces by 2013.

North American community June 2013, mostly Penstemon species
North American community June 2013, mostly Penstemon species

Eurasian community detail, June
Eurasian community detail, June. Galiman vernom (yellow) and Salvia nemorosa (purple)

Eurasian community, June
Eurasian community, June. Stipa gigantea is the tall see–through grass.

Long view through the three plant communities July 2013

South African community; Diascia integerrima is prominent
South African community; the pink Diascia integerrima is prominent

The Merton Borders in late September 2013
The borders in late September 2013

Stipa gigantea continues to provide structure into autumn in the Eurasian community.