Parks gardeners breathe new life into Ashmolean roof terrace

A team of University Parks gardeners has transformed the Ashmolean Museum's rooftop garden restaurant.
The roof terrace is always popular with visitors, but the Ashmolean’s commercial team knew it would benefit from a refresh after almost a decade and a half after being created as part of the museum's major refurbishment in 2009. The Parks gardeners, led by Gardening Supervisor Harrison Abbotts, worked closely with Museum staff to create a tranquil backdrop for diners to enjoy.

ashmolean roof terrace

‘With the summer approaching and the continuing appetite for people to enjoy al fresco dining, we wanted to refresh the ‘hidden gem’ that is the Ashmolean museum Rooftop Restaurant Terrace. We wanted something that would be sustainable, provide impact and offer a biodiversity haven for all users – human and insect,’ said Wendy Ball, the Ashmolean’s Head of Catering and Events. 

‘Harrison rose to the challenge, producing a design that enhanced and expanded the space and a planting scheme that provides the ambience we wanted’, she added. ‘Harrison even discussed his ideas with our chef, and together they agreed on some herbs and plants that can now be used in dishes and cocktails prepared for customers.’

The team began by adding a smart gravel surface alongside the decked terrace, extending the restaurant's outdoor seating area considerably. They re-used the planters that were already on site and made more of their own, filling them with a mix of herbs, vegetables and ornamental plants including roses and climbers that will eventually cover the railings that surround the area. The plants are chosen to be tough as well as attractive, and the team hopes they will stand up well to hot, dry summers on the roof without depending on daily watering.

roof garden new planting 3

This was a challenging location for a landscaping project – the team had to remove all the old plant matter and soil via the museum's lift, and bring all the new materials they needed to the top of the building via the same route, including tonnes of compost for the planters, more tonnes of stone chips for the floor, and treated timber for the new planters.

But the revitalised space they have created is worth the trouble, with Head Chef Steven Tuchscherer telling the Oxford Mail that his team are ‘delighted with the result’. The Parks team hope the space will now provide Museum visitors, both human and insect, with a beautiful, relaxing environment for years to come.

ashmolean roof garden downscaled credit ashmolean


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