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Tracking the Use of Climbing Plants in the Urban Landscape through the Photoarchives of Two Oxford Colleges, 1861-1964


  • Mary J. Thornbush


This paper explores the historical appearance and use of climbing plants (ivy and creeper) at Trinity and Pembroke Colleges, University of Oxford, UK. Archival materials are used to present the evidence and establish an historical record of landscape change in the use of ivy and creeper in the built environment. The record from the Trinity College archive captures ivy or creeper between 1861 and 1964. Temporal trends convey increasing growth on some buildings, such as the Chapel. Four photographic albums were identified at Pembroke College that contain photographs dating between 1889 and 1964. Whereas climbing plants appear in photographs from the nineteenth century, around 1953 they were cleared from walls that served as backdrops for group photographs. There is, however, some indication that ivy- or creeper-clad building backdrops were favoured, perhaps suggesting a continued social preference for this visual aesthetic.

Suggested Citation

  • Mary J. Thornbush, 2013. "Tracking the Use of Climbing Plants in the Urban Landscape through the Photoarchives of Two Oxford Colleges, 1861-1964," Landscape Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(3), pages 312-328, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:clarxx:v:38:y:2013:i:3:p:312-328
    DOI: 10.1080/01426397.2011.647897

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