Hidden in Oadby’s neighbourhoods, the Botanic Garden of the University of Leicester is an expansive place, nonetheless easy to miss. Living in Oadby myself, I first discovered it on a friend’s Instagram story. From the surrounding streets, it is hardly visible. After 10 good minutes of walking around looking for an entrance, I was finally able to get in.
The place is exactly what you would think of an English landscape garden. Footpaths going here and there through green lawns, trees and ponds. The garden is divided in a few areas so subtly you barely feel their presence. I thought for myself : this is a very quiet place!
A few minutes from Leicester city centre and you feel like in a countryside property. The old Edwardian houses standing all around give even more strength to that sentiment. But there is also a sound melancholia in that scenery. The huge mansions of red bricks with their large checkered windows and proudly tall chimneys, although perfectly kept, somehow speak like old ruins. An era of the English civilization at its pinnacle has lived here and is now resting.
That peaceful and historical place is now home of a biological collection of plants and flowers which belongs to the University. Anyone is however welcome in the garden. Most people wandering around are just looking for a calm place to sit on a bench and read, old people and families having a walk, and also some curious who are able to observe here the little wonders of nature that everyone else fail to see. I had the chance to meet one of them myself as I was there for a sunday morning stroll. We were exploring the garden our own pace, closing in each other a few times when we finally started to talk in the «tropical House», one of the few themed greenhouses of the Botanic Garden.
Hilary also lives nearby and comes here because she is passionate about nature and its diversity. She showed me different flowers and fruits such as the giant lemons barely visible behind the large leaves of a very dense tree. Her son is going to the same
university and so we exchanged some general ideas about education and how does such a place can be a useful tool to learn. We agreed on how important it is to go out and see the physical life. « Learning is also a tactile experience » she told me. I eventually left her with new ideas of places to visit, feeling empowered by that encounter and the creative potential of an apparently dormant place where people keep bringing in their living energy.
I believe that learning is also a tactile experience
– Hilary –