Ruskin Crinkle Crankle Garden Club

A unique serpentine walled garden in Headington

Ruskin Crinkle Crankle Opening

Ribbon cutting on open day

Peter Thoday prepares to cut the ribbon. In the foreground are Judith Marquand (left) and Audrey Mullender, Principal of Ruskin College (right).

There were speeches and poems at 10.30 a.m., and then Peter Thoday, TV Presenter of The Victorian Kitchen Garden and former Horticultural Director of the Eden Project, formally opened the walled garden.

See photographs by Colin Miller

        The Garden
  Extracts read by Judith Marquand
iv.How vainly men themselves amaze
To win the Palm, the Oke, or Bayes;
And their incessant Labours see
Crown’d from some single Herb or Tree,
Whose short and narrow verged Shade
Does prudently their Toyles upbraid;
While all Flow’rs and all Trees do close
To weave the Garlands of repose.

What wond’rous Life in this I lead!
Ripe Apples drop about my head;
The Luscious Clusters of the Vine
Upon my Mouth do crush their Wine;
The Nectaren, and curious Peach,
Into my hands themselves do reach;
Stumbling on Melons, as I pass,
Insnar’d with Flow’rs, I fall on Grass.

Meanwhile the Mind, from pleasures less,
Withdraws into its happiness:
The Mind, that Ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other Worlds, and other Seas;
Annihilating all that’s made
To a green Thought in a green Shade.        
        The Garden of Summer Fruits
            John Morrissey

John Morrissey read part of his poem, which he
describes as an inspiration for the garden as a
symbol of us all growing, developing and sharing
our talents and gifts from the heart, to inspire 
a new
universal vision of living life together on
this beautiful Earth.

Let us step into the garden
of summer fruits,
planting the seeds for a new life emerging.
Let us play in the garden
of childlike wonder,
tasting the fruits of untapped potential.
Let us grow in the garden
sharing togetherness,
discovering solutions to our problems.
Let us know peace in the garden
unity found,
realising the nature of existence.
We are a universe becoming conscious of itself,
deep in our hearts we know this.
We are the saving grace that will restore us;
for there is only love
in the garden of summer fruits.  

        The Rumpuses of Learning

   Brian Aldiss    Read by Brian Aldiss

What joyous sounds assail us? An orchestra maybe?
What could this sylvan scene be lacking?
The cries of female students rejoicing –
Or complaints of male ones gravely voicing,
Textbooks stacking, Birds chirruping, geese 
Or Leadbitter’s lorries backing?

Well, we know erudition has many visages –
Aristotle’s arguments echoed on for syzygies.I

t’s a transposition we have here.
Old Headington is proved discerning
When academe arrives to teach
Its older pupils sitting each by each…
– No peace for residents this year!
But greater than peace, we know, is Learning.

Time is a slow fuse burning –
For evidence of which we have no great yearning…

A half a century has fled
Since I abandoned golf and tennis,
And – to equip my brain instead –
I sat and in four volumes read
That wondrous work, “The Stones of Venice”.

Yes, John Ruskin, there at his Italian desk.
Conducting many an anapaest with decent rigour…

John Ruskin grew loved, feared and famed
A forceful Nineteenth Century figure,
A man who many a day would have his say –
Enemy of greed, controversial, and prolific
First Slade Professor of Art, so named,
Made a disastrous marriage but, more vital to our 
cause today,
Taught at the Working Man’s College.
Travelled, praised disputed, preached or blamed.
Wrote a great work on Modern Painters
Never gave up. Spoke up. Coughed up … And remained 

Once I used to walk those well-worn stones of 
Walton Street
To lecture on Creativity in Ruskin, where this 
bastion stood.
But years have flown. And Ruskin is transplanted –
We trust alone by the discerning. Here we meet!
It’s right that Ruskin still lives on in metaphoric 
Amid grand trees and wild fields – right and good
That those who made some service to the state
Those who ‘kept the home fires burning’
And fed with wisdom the discerning,
Live on beyond our fragile life of mind and vein 
and bone…
We’re right to be enchanted,
We citizens who also bear the rumpuses of learning.

© Brian W. Aldiss with permission to Ruskin College 
for a reprint]

This event was followed by three more ribbon-cutting ceremonies, at the entrance to the main building; in the Callaghan Library; and in front of the mosaic in the atrium of the college.