Greenspaces on Campus

University of Reading Harris Garden

Greenspaces in universities are vital for several reasons. They enhance the campus’s aesthetic appeal, providing a visually stimulating environment conducive to learning and creativity. These spaces also offer psychological benefits, contributing to the mental well-being and stress reduction of students, faculty, and staff. Moreover, greenspaces support biodiversity by creating habitats for various species.  

They play a crucial role in environmental sustainability, improving air quality and reducing urban heat effects. Additionally, outdoor green areas can facilitate learning and research opportunities in environmental and biological sciences. 

In the UK, universities are increasingly recognizing the importance of green spaces, not just for their aesthetic value but also for the well-being of their students, staff, and the local environment. The UK boasts over 62,000 urban greenspaces, providing substantial benefits like food production, carbon sequestration, air filtration, cooling, noise mitigation, and enhancing physical health, which collectively contribute over £130 billion in value. 

As per a blog article by Envision (, in the UK, the average urban property has access to 4.6 hectares of greenspace within a 200-meter radius, illustrating the accessibility and importance of greenspaces within urban environments, including university campuses 

The best part is the University of Reading is a pioneer in this task, and you should be proud if you are a student here.  

As the top university in the 2023–24 People and Planet University League, the University of Reading’s Whiteknights campus has received recognition for its greenery and dedication to environmental excellence. This is a noteworthy accomplishment that demonstrates the university’s environmental leadership and institutional commitment to sustainability. The university’s ranking has improved from fourth place to first place in the previous year, demonstrating its ongoing efforts to prioritize environmental stewardship. 

More About the Whiteknights Campus: 

The Whiteknights campus has been praised for its lovely parkland, which covers 130 hectares and includes a lake, woodlands, and the much-loved Harris Garden. It was selected as one of the top ten most popular green spaces in the United Kingdom in the 2017 Green Flag People’s Choice Award, which is a rare achievement for a university campus. The University of Reading also has the Green Flag award, indicating that the campus is well-manicured and well-maintained. 

Not only is this campus a lovely place for students, staff, and the community to enjoy, but it also provides habitats and food for local wildlife, such as butterflies and seed-eating birds. Additionally, the Whiteknights campus has been awarded the Green Flag Award for the thirteenth year in a row in 2023, solidifying its reputation as one of Britain’s best green spaces. The Green Flag Award scheme annually identifies the UK’s best public outdoor spaces based on the overall quality of green space and the effort put into maintaining immaculate grounds. 

That said, let us explore the green spaces on Whiteknights Campus. 

Greenspaces in Whiteknights Campus. 

  1. Harris Garden 
Harris Garden

Image of Harris Garden. (Captured by Uttam Kumar Tamboli) 

Situated on the Whiteknights campus of the University of Reading, the Harris Garden is a noteworthy botanical garden that has developed over time into a vital resource for guests, employees, and students alike.  

Spanning approximately 49,000 m² (0.0189 mi2), it is open to the public and makes a substantial contribution to education, preservation, and leisure pursuits. 

The garden, which was once part of the grounds of a Victorian house called “The Wilderness,” has experienced several stages of development and management.  

In 2010, after Plant Sciences closed, the University’s Estates Department assumed responsibility for the garden; today, the Grounds Department manages it with the assistance of an engaged volunteer group headed by the Friends of the Harris Garden, a charitable organization founded in 1987.  

The Friends of the Harris Garden have played a significant role in supporting the garden’s development and upkeep, having provided funding for many of its key features. 

The garden boasts a wide variety of plantings and features, providing interest throughout the year. Many rare and unusual trees and shrubs from around the world are included in it, some of which date back to the original 18th and 19th-century gardens. 

The garden is renowned for its veteran Turkey Oaks, the Damp Garden, which replaces a former pond, and the Flower Stream and Meadows, which are particularly attractive to insects and feature mainly native wildflowers.  

Other highlights include the Ornamental Orchard, the Cherry Bowl, several large herbaceous borders, and the Dry Garden, which is designed around drought-tolerant plants.  

Moreover, the University of Reading has prepared a guide for Harris Garden, which has information on the species of flora present in the garden. I will recommend you check it out from here

Map of the University of Reading

Whiteknights Campus Map with Harris Garden Pointed Out 

Click here if you want to jump to the location 

Things to keep in mind while visiting Harris Garden: 

  1. Wear either Wellington boots or waterproof footwear while visiting Harris Garden, as the pathway can be muddy. 
  1. If you do not know the area very well or are visiting for the first time, try to visit the garden during the day, as you may get lost inside in low visibility. 
  1. It is never crowded, so anytime during the day is perfect for visiting the garden. 
  1. Lakeside Forest Area near Childs Hall. 
Map of the University of Reading

Click here to jump to this location. 

This place is near Childs Hall which is an on-campus University Accommodation. There is a road connecting Childs Hall to the Carrington Building. In between this route, there is a narrow route between the bushes on the lakeside.  

This path connects to the wilderness near the lakeside. 

Lakeside Forest Area near Childs Hall.

Lake side road in between Childs Hall & Road Joining Carrington Building. (Captured by Uttam Kumar Tamboli) 

Things to keep in mind while visiting Lakeside Forest Area near Childs Hall: 

  1. Wear either Wellington Boots or waterproof footwear while visiting this area as the road is generally muddy and becomes more on rainy days. 
  1. It is good to visit during the day. 
  1. You will find people jogging, walking, birth watching or sightseeing in this area all the time but not too many. 
  1. Forest Area near Agriculture Building 
University of Reading map

Click here to jump on the location 

This area is generally lively with people during the weekdays, as the Agriculture Building is a busy place because classes for multiple courses take place there. However, the greenspace on both sides of the pathway is commendable and gives a positive visiting experience. You may spot ducks and swans on this path as well because the road runs close to the lake, and they swim there. In addition to it, the presence of the lake improves the greenspace visiting experience in this area. 

Forest Area near Agriculture Building

Forest Area near Agriculture Building (Photo Captured by Uttam Kumar Tamboli) 

Things to keep in mind while visiting Lakeside Forest Area near Childs Hall: 

  1. The roads are solid hence it is good for regular walking, jogging or even running. 
  1. You will not need wellington boots for this path (unless you use a muddy route yourself). 
  1. It is not entirely quiet as the movement of people exists for most of the days. 
  1. As the route is of solid roads and they are well lit, you can visit this place even during nighttime. 
  1. Greenery on the way to Bridges Hall. 
University of Reading map

Click here to jump on this location. 

This route is also worth checking out because solid road exists from bridges hall to the lake and even to the main campus. Hence you can visit anytime when you become free from your lectures or work. 

This path stays less busy as compared to the path joining the agricultural building. You can even run around the grassland in the area because this greenspace is much more spacious than the one near agricultural buildings.  

Greenery on the way to Bridges Hall.

Things to keep in mind while visiting Lakeside Forest Area near Childs Hall: 

  1. The roads are solid hence it is good for regular walking, jogging, running, or walking your dogs. 
  1. You will not need wellington boots for this path. 
  1. It generally stays quiet as the movement of people exists but not too much. 
  1. As the route is of solid roads and they are well lit, you can visit this place even during nighttime. 
  1. Wilderness Area beside Harris Garden and Route from lakeside of Childs Hall all the way to bridge on the lake 
University of Reading map

Click here to access the route. 

This route will give you the ultimate experience of greenspace visiting as it covers a long distance which will include grasslands, forest, and actual garden. This route is not commonly taken by most people. Only people who like jogging in nature, people who go bird watching and sightseeing generally use this path. Hence it provides a soothing experience. 

Wilderness Area beside Harris Garden and Route from lake side of Childs Hall all the way to bridge on lake

Collage of the route from lakeside Childs Hall to Wilderness Area to Harris Garden (Photos Captured by Uttam Kumar Tamboli 

Things to keep in mind while visiting Lakeside Forest Area near Childs Hall: 

  1. Wellington boots or waterproof footwear are necessary for this route. 
  1. It is advised to take this route during the day and not at night as visibility becomes exceptionally low in the evening and there is no artificial lighting on this route. 
  1. This path is generally empty, so it is fit to visit anytime during the day.  

I have tried to cover most of the green spaces available on the Whiteknights campus based on my experience. If I had to select two of the best routes for greenspace exploring, I would go with Harris Garden and the nearby wilderness area with a lakeside route towards Childs Hall. These routes are accessible and are generally quiet for most of the time during the day. 

With this, I would like to thank you for reading the entire blog. I hope that you have gained some good insights about the Greenspaces on Campus and will try to visit them. 

It is particularly important to take some time off your busy schedule to visit greenspaces for the following reasons: 

  • Living near green spaces may reduce the risk of developing cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and other harmful health issues. 
  • Living in low green areas was associated with an increase in diastolic blood pressure. 
  • Greenspace privilege and inequality in accessibility can lead to disparities in mental and physical health. 
  • The positive association between greenness exposure and lung function was more pronounced in individuals under 60 years old, females, and urban populations. 
  • Accessible local green spaces are associated with better mental health. They encourage active behaviours and social interaction and reduce loneliness and stress. 

Therefore, act responsibly and incorporate greenspace exposure in your daily life to protect and improve your mental, social, and physical well-being. 

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