Acanthus Leaves

These are Acanthus leaves, not that I knew it when I photographed them in the Fellows’ Garden at Christ’s College today. I asked one of the gardeners and he referred me to the head gardener who was repotting a bush. The bush was one of two bushes, a pair, that had been in pots that dated from 1642 (or some similar date). One of the pots had broken into nine pieces and we agreed that four hundred years was pretty good going for a pot. So, because one of the two pots had broken apart, the gardeners had to repot both bushes in new pots.

So they were repotting the bushes and I asked what the plant was (I had taken a snap on my phone so that I could show him). When he said it was an Acanthus, my mind span off into my schooldays, being taught the elements of Greek architecture, with Acanthus leaves decorating Corinthian columns. Could I still trot out Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, the stages in Greek column design? Almost.


Here are the shrubs, min-trees, (?) in the pots. I looked at them again today and if I had to say what they are I would hazard a guess that they are Yew. But I am not sure. I looked for a gardener to ask but couldn’t find one. Maybe next time.

And here is a leaf I felt and bent over. Thin as paper, bends easily, not what I expected – I expected something stiffer.

The entrance to the Fellows' Garden at Christ's College in Cambridge, with the gate flanked by shrubs in pots - mentioned in the article
An acanthus leaf bent over to show how rigid or otherwise it is.


  1. An Acanthus? No, a PAIR of Acanthus. Imagine that! It must be so glorious to be in such a place, so near living history. And they must be such a beautiful plant with those deep-green, gorgeously glossy, deep-cut leaves.
    And growing in a pair of four hundred-year-old pots?! Just imagine all the different species that may have been the occupants of these ancient pots over all that time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Apologies for my confusing description. I wrote it in a flow of thoughts without stopping. In the process I made a confusing mess of it. The acanthus was growing in the ground. The gardeners were repotting something else – I don’t know what beyond that they were little bushes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Any idea what sort of texture these leaves have? The gloss almost reminds me of holly…


    1. Next time I am passing I shall investigate.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I posted a couple of sentences and photos to update the article – including how the leaves felt and what are in the pots by the gate.


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