Alastair Mallick

Head Gardener

Alastair Mallick joined Somerville College as our new Head Gardener in 2022. With 15 years of horticultural experience behind him, across everything from organic farming to his most recent post as Head Gardener at Queen’s College (2017-22), Alastair is keen to build on Somerville’s legacy of sustainability, biodiversity and beauty.

Building on a life-long love for plants and the natural world, Alastair progressed into gardening through a passion for growing his own food. After volunteering on many organic farming projects around the world and spending many hours tending to his allotment, he realised that he loved the process of working with plants. A professional pathway soon followed: Alastair ran his own successful gardening business before, in 2017, taking the jump into the the world of the university as Head Gardener at Queen’s in 2017. Here, he found that he loved the Oxford college environment, and was therefore thrilled when our former Head Gardener Sophie Walwin suggested he consider taking on the excellent work she began during her time at Somerville.

Alastair has big plans for the Somerville gardens. Refeshing the borders, bringing in lots of beautiful and unusual plants to lift Sophie’s great existing planting, adding new structure to the rest of the garden through shrubs and trees – the list goes on. Alastair is also deeply involved in the conversations to create a new pond as a source of additional biodiversity (and potential research for our plant scientists!). Some other plans being considered are a new perennial meadow for the empty bed in front of the Maitland building and an alpine rock garden in front of Park. However, Alastair also has a continued focus on developing garden spaces that are resilient to the pressures of climate change and that work for local fauna as well as for us. This will be achieved through measures such as the pond, but also bird boxes, bee hotels and drought-resistant, locally-sourced planting.

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