This new border situated to the right of the Ruin against the North Wall beyond the Cloister Garth, was designed by Jill Stewart to mark the progress of Henry Chichele’s life, from his birth in Higham Ferrers, to his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury. The plants reflect in colour and species, important points in his life and will add a plant lovers, interpretive dimension to the side border.
We are grateful to the designer, Jill Stewart, for the following commentary.
"Henry Chichele was a polymath who travelled extensively on behalf of his king, Henry V, in the role of diplomat and lawyer before finally holding the high church office as Archbishop of Canterbury. Chichele journeyed widely in Europe and would have seen many wildflowers not native to England.
The west end of the border represents his early scholastic achievements in Oxford and Northampton with Fritillaria meleagris (the official wildflower of Oxfordshire) and Primula veris (the official wildflower of Northamptonshire) (Plantlife International, 2014).
Narcissus pseudonarcissus and Galanthus rivalis also feature here as spring blooms to represent the start of his life's travels.
They could be overplanted by Geranium pratense that will flower in summer and cover spent leaves. This meadow geranium is also positioned further along the border to balance the alpine blue of the gentian.
Regular drifts of Thymus vulgaris suggest the passage of time through his career from student to Archbishop of Canterbury. The existing Rose of Lancaster (Rosa gallica officinalis) represents his family allegiance to the House of Lancaster and is seen in his coat of arms as cinquefoils gules. Chichele founded the Oxford College of All Souls and All Souls has adopted this coat of arms.
Bellis perennis lies at the feet of this rose and leads to Gentiana verna, a gentian native to the alpine regions of Italy and France.
Digitalis purpurea, Iris germanica and Aquilegia vulgaris are native across Europe and England. Their colours range from pink through to pale purple to deeper violet, reflecting some of the liturgical colour spectrum as Chichele's church appointments gain in stature. These colours also mark the religious celebrations through the Church's calendar.
Rosa pimpinellifolia is a species rose of Europe with creamy white flowers and hips in a very dark purple to black. It contrasts with the Lancaster rose in colour, density of spines and delicacy of the leaf shape. It suggests the delicacy needed to diplomatic negotiations to avoid uncomfortable consequences!
The eastern end of the border finishes with Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostratus'. This aromatic herb has a reputation for aiding a failing memory and for remembrance in general."