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Areas of interest

Highlights within our grounds & gardens.

Areas of interest

Highlights within our grounds & gardens.

The Master’s Garden

Close up of a pink rose in the Master's Garden on a sunny summer day.

Pride of place in the Master’s Garden is a fine Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). There is a large lawn, two small ponds, a Magnolia grandiflora and mixed borders. The Sir Winston Churchill border can also be found in this area including the new Churchill Rose, SaxifragaWinston Churchill’ and other plants that bear his name.

Winter Border

Winter Border. Photograph Gavin Bateman

This border is located next to the Herbaceous Border which overlooks the Hepworth sculpture. It is planted with winter and spring flowering plants, many of which have beautiful scent. Of particular note are Hellebores, different species of  Cornus and Salix, Viburnums and Chimonanthus praecox. The Winter Border comes into its own when the Herbaceous Border is at its barest. 

Herbaceous Border

This is the College’s only true flower bed as it is planted purely for colour. There are no shrubs in this border so it breaks away from the original concept of foliage and form.  However, it creates a stunning backdrop during the summer months.

Study Centre Plantings

Study Centre. Photograph Naomi Morris

These are mixed beds which overlook the College’s playing fields and enhance the seating area outside the Study Centre.  Of particular note is the Golden Bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) which looks particularly effective reflecting in the black glass of the building.

Student Hostels (Pepper Pots)

Pepper Pots. Photograph: Gavin Bateman

The new graduate student hostels were built in 2001 adjacent to the Wolfson Flats. The planting is mainly for foliage and there is a dry garden theme using Phormium, Sage and Lavender. There is also a pleached lime hedge (where trees have been trained into a raised hedge) and a cherry orchard (Prunus ‘Tai Haku’ Great White Cherry) which is spectacular when in flower.

Private Road (Churchill Road) Plantings

Music Centre & Private Road. Photograph: © University of Cambridge Credit: Sir Cam

Don’t miss the beautiful Silver Birch half way down the Churchill Road. Their spectacular ghost-like stems look particularly stunning in the winter reflecting back in the black glass building opposite and also in the spring where over a thousand Narcissus ‘Thalia’ have been naturalised in the grass beneath. The borders along this road, which is over 500m long, were replanted in 2009 using grasses as a main feature.

Fruit Orchards in domestic gardens (Storey’s Way)

Storey's Way

Most of the fruit trees in these gardens date from the 1920s and 1930s when the College-owned houses on Storey’s Way were built, some thirty or so years before the College was built.


Courtyard with autumnal tree

The planting and design within each of the 11 courtyards differ throughout and alternate between sunken areas with grass and one or two trees, such as a Foxglove tree (Paulownia tomentosa), through to raised courtyards with sunken borders. Each planting is different and presents different challenges due to heavy shade from the buildings or because the area is next to a building with low windows. One courtyard is planted with tree ferns (Dicksonia antartica), bananas (Musa basjoo) (the College gets small bananas in hot summers) and grasses. Another courtyard is host to a display of clipped box (Buxus sempervirens).


Parterre at the Møller Centre

The Parterre is well worth a visit. Box (Buxus sempervirens) has been planted at 30cm spacing to form low hedges. The design is symmetrical on both sides of the entrance to the Møller Centre and features the ‘Maersk Star’. This is the logo of the donor (you may have seen the star on the side of Maersk container lorries) and the planting scheme is blue and white to match the corporate colours. There is also more use of hedging in the car park.

Sports Field

Churchill playing fields. Photograph: © University of Cambridge Credit: Sir Cam

The sports fields are set out over three different levels. The bottom field (closest to the main College buildings) houses the cricket pitch and three grass tennis courts and three hard tennis courts with netball and basketball markings. During winter this field is also used for Ultimate Frisbee and Lacrosse. The middle field is used for football while the top field is used for rugby, a second football pitch and for University Archery in the summer.

The grounds are also used by the University Spaceflight Programme and regular balloon launches are made.  In addition to this the grounds are used for many garden parties.

Mini Arboretum

Mini Arboretum near the Chapel at Spring. Photograph: Gavin Bateman 2013

This area can be found just beyond the Chapel at Churchill College at the top end of the site and is home to stunning displays in the spring.  First to come into flower are thousands of snowdrops followed by some 20,000 daffodils which flower at the same time as a delightful Prunus x yedoensis. This area also contains collections of Acer palmatum and Cornus kousa amongst other trees which were kindly donated by Michael Lewis College undergraduate 1964. These plantings commemorated fifty years since Michael graduated.

Sheppard Flat Borders

Sheppard Flats.  Photograph: © University of Cambridge Credit: Sir Cam

These borders are planted with a mix of herbaceous plants and shrubs and provide a pleasant environment in this residential area of the College.


Autumnal Trees. Photograph: Naomi Morris

There are now over 800 trees on site many of which are host to Mistletoe. This indicates that the air is quite clean as Mistletoe doesn’t grow in areas of high pollution. Mistletoe is semi-parasitic and causes relatively little damage to the tree as it bears leaves that photosynthesize. The host is used as a source of water and mineral nutrients. For further information please see the tree map. These trees are planted by famous or important College people.

Spring Blossom Chapel. Photograph Gavin Bateman

Churchill trees

Trees on the College site include both British natives along the boundary line and exotic and unusual trees elsewhere. 

Some of the highlights in the collection include: