Tuesday, 16 May 2017

From Lavender To Bearded Iris

Nuffield Border (Left)

Nuffield Border (Right)

The lavender in the borders in front of the Nuffield Builing have been looking rather scruffy for some time despite the best efforts of the team to keep them looking a neat and tidy hedge. Now very woody and brittle the decision has been made to remove it and replace it with something completely different, Bearded Iris, Agapanthus and Nerine.

Woody And Brittle Lavender

Removing The Lavender
The work to change the border started today with the removal of the lavender and the weed suppressing membrane. The top dressing of gravel was dug in to the soil, then raked level ready for planting as the lavender was taken to the chipper for chipping.

Weed Suppressing Membrane And Gravel

Trailer Of Lavender

The Iris Swathe Through The Gravel

The iris, given to the college by the Oxford Botanic garden last year, see blog entry for the 21st July 2016 'Washing Bearded Iris', were placed out in a swathe along the gravel and then planted with the rhizome above ground and facing south as much as possible, they love to feel the heat of the sun. The Agapanthus and Nerine will be planted in the next few week.

Planting The Iris

South Facing Rhizome

The New Iris Border

Bearded Iris 'Wabash' In Flower

Friday, 12 May 2017

Escaping The Confines Of The Fleece

Wrapped But Trying To Escape Their Fleecy Confine

Not since 2014 have the group of hardy banana plants, Musa basjoo, been unwrapped during the first two weeks of May, although last year was only a few days later, the 16th. According to the Met Office, this winter has been the ninth mildest and driest winter since records began in 1910. These unwrapping dates also coincide with the even milder, but wet, winters of 2013/14 and 2015/16.  

Being Unwrapped

Warmer under the horticultural fleece, the plants have been stretching and pushing their winter protection up and out of the ground in attempt to escape from their fleecy confine, some have even made a hole in it as if gasping for the cooler fresh air! A day of heavy rain is forecast which will be a relief to these plants that have been wrapped up since the 3rd November.

Breaking Through

Pushing Up The Fleece From The Ground


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Normality Resumes In The Nursery

Summer 2014

In September 2014 the gardener's nursery area was leased out for 2 years to the contractors who would be working on the reconstruction of the former Ruskin College (Exeter College) building. Once the cold frames had been demolished and the nursery area cleared, Portakabins were moved on to the area, see blog entry 6th October 2014 'From Nursery To Portakabins', and temporary wooden cold frames built on the nursery beds. 

 October 2014 Demolition Site (Nursery)

Portakabins In Place For The Next 2 Years
Temporary Cold Frames On The Nursery Beds

Two and a half years later, (yes it was supposed to be only two years!), the gardening team have their nursery, cold frames and nursery beds back.  

11th January 2017, The Portakabins Have Gone

As the reconstruction project drew to a close in January the Portakabins were removed and another reconstruction project began in the nursery area.

23rd March 2017, The Old Cold Frame Bases

The nursery site was cleared once again exposing the bases where the cold frames once stood and the temporary frames were also removed from the nursery beds. Over the next few months discussions were held with the gardening team as to the required configuration of the new frames and nursery beds and, once agreed, the rebuild began.

23rd March 2017, The Temporary Cold Frames Are Removed

28th March 2017, Gone

31st March 2017, Reconstruction Of The New Cold Frames

By the end of March the rebuild was well under way, two new brick cold frames, two new nursery beds and a new lawn laid, all completed by the beginning of May.

9th May 2017, Finished And In Use

Within a few days of their completion the frames were full up with plants. Normality has resumed in the nursery, the plants are where they should be a this time of year, gently acclimatising them to the British summer temperatures before they are planted out in to the borders for this year's summer display.


Filled With Plants

Filled Up With Plants, Lids On To Protect From Overnight Frost

9th May 2017, New Nursery Beds

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Twisting The Silver Birch In To Shapes

A Birch Support For Acanthus mollis

Two weeks ago the team began to make the plant supports for the herbaceous perennials on the border. As these plants grown they will need support in order to hold them up and prevent them from falling over.

A Birch Support For Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'

The size and shape of the supports created depends on the height and spread of each plant once it reaches its final size, if the team get the size of the support right they will soon become invisible, hidden by the plants as they grow up and through them. The material used to make the supports is coppiced Silver Birch, to see how the birch was cut down and collected check out the blog entry for the 2nd February 2017 'Coppicing Hazel and Silver Birch'.  Although the wood was cut down 3 months ago it still remains very pliable and can be woven in to lots of different shapes and sizes to create the support structures. Over the next few weeks the team will continue to twist the silver birch in to shapes until all the plants that require assistance have their own natural plant support. 

Birch Plants Supports Of Different Shapes And Sizes

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Ceanothus arboreus 'Trewithen Blue'

Blue At The Far End Of The Herbaceous Border

First mentioned in the blog entry of the 17th May 2013 'Blue Is The Colour', the Ceanothus growing against the wall at the far end of the herbaceous border is now putting on an even more impressive blue floral display. Now a much larger, more mature shrub that towers above the wall it once sat at the bottom of and, with its mass of pale blue flowers, has stopped a number of visitors in their tracks all asking the question, what is that amazing blue plant? The answer Ceanothus arboreus 'Trewithen Blue', (Californian Lilac).

Towering Above The Wall

Panicles Of Blue

Monday, 24 April 2017

Tulip 'Blue Diamond', Surely It's Purple?

View From Above

The border at the far end of the quad was planted up for the winter/spring display back in October, see blog entry for the 13th 'From Pastels To Blue Diamonds'. The colour theme is purple this year, Wallflower 'Sunset Purple' and Tulip 'Blue Diamond', but why a 'blue' tulip when the colour theme is purple? As can be seen by the photographs there is actually no blue to be seen!

Wallflower 'Sunset Purple' and Tulip 'Blue Diamond'

Not sure why the tulips were named 'Blue Diamond' but their large, double violet purple blooms on long stems look perfect planted amongst the purple wallflowers. Pleased with this combination of planting more of these tulips will be added to the border in the autumn for an even better display this time next year.

Purple not Blue

Tulip 'Blue Diamond'

Friday, 21 April 2017

Inspired By A Visit To Madrid

Colour Inspiration, A Visit To Madrid April 2016

For this year's spring display the colour scheme in the corner border is based on the borders seen outside the Royal Palace of Madrid last year, yellow pansies, orange pansies and yellow daffodils with an orange trumpet.

All Planted (October 2016)

Using the Spanish planting as inspiration, to recreate the colours the gardeners planted 406 wallflowers, 'Sunset Yellow' and 'Sunset Orange', and 200 tulips, 'Ballerina' and 'Westpoint', see entry 12th October 2016 'From Venice To Madrid'.

Heat In The Corner (April 2017)

Since the start of this month the heat of Madrid has been felt in a small corner of Worcester College and, as the plants mature, it seems to be getting hotter and hotter. The team are really pleased with the result, the best display seen in the corner in recent years, but where will their inspiration come from for next year's display?  

All Planted (October 2016)

Wallflowers And Tulips (April 2017)

Wallflower 'Sunset Yellow' and 'Sunset Orange'

Tulip 'Ballerina'

Tulip 'Westpoint'