Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Grass Seed Mixes

9th November 2016 Laurel (Far Left), Cable Channel (Far Right)

Many visitors to the college gardens take the time to stop and congratulate the team on the quality of the grass especially the quad lawn, the banks and the strip in front of the herbaceous border. As well as the many compliments a recurring question is what grass seed is used to create and maintain these wonderful lawns? The answer to that question is two different mixes of seed from Sherriff Amenity's MM Range. The seed used depends on the type of lawn required ie a fine lawn such as the quad requires a mix called MM10, or a dense fine lawn such as on the banks and herbaceous strip require the mix called MM21. (Click on the above link for more information regarding the contents of these seed mixes and the percentage break down of Browntop Bent, Slender Creeping Red Fescue, Chewings Fescue, Hard Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass). 

23rd November 2016

In November of last year a section on the banks had to be removed to make way for the laying of new cables. In February, once the cable laying had been completed, the channel that had been created was filled back in and the seed mix MM21 sown on the newly prepared area. Within one month, thanks to the warm spring providing perfect conditions for germination, the seed had germinated.

13th February 2017
MM21 Seed Mix On The Banks

9th March 2017 MM21 Germinated

In the mean time, whilst the seed was germinating, another area of the banks was being renovated. In December last year the large laurel were removed from the far end of the banks. In February of this year the area was then levelled in preparation for seeding but not before a new metal edge and stone edge were added to retain the soil and match the edging on rest of the banks. Once all the edging work had been completed the seed was broadcast across the area, MM21 again, and within a month, the seed had germinated and a green hue began to slowly cover the soil. By the end of April the new grass was being mown.

9th February 2017 Levelled In Preparation For Seeding
9th March 2017 A New Stone Edge

9th March 2017 Ready For Seeding

24th March 2017 Grass On The Channel

27th June 2017 Grass Where The Laurel Once Stood

The Quad And The Banks

As can be seen from the photograph above the two areas of repair that were soil just 4-5 months ago are now green and the new grass is barely noticeable from the rest of the banks.

5th July 2017 Herbaceous Strip

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Planted In Triplicate

Removing The Winter Display

Last week the nine oak planters were moved from the centre of the Besse Courtyard in preparation for the triennial ball. Now that the ball is over the winter planting has been removed and replaced with this year's summer display. The decision was made to delay the replanting until after the ball in order to prevent the new display from being damaged from any frivolity and, with the risk now gone, the change over has been completed.   

A Truck Full Of Plants

The plants that were due to be used to create the display have been sat in the cold frames waiting patiently until it was their time to come out in to the gardens and, as the planters are usually changed during the first week of June, the plants were potted up in to larger flower pots to allow them to continue to grow during the three week delay. 

Placing Out

1 Large, 1 Medium and 1 Small Planter

Last year's display was made up of all nine planters together in the centre of the courtyard, see blog entry 26th May 2016 'Pelargonium Aplenty', but, having moved them to around the edge of the courtyard for the ball, it was decided to leave them in their new positions. One group of nine became three groups of three; 1 small, 1 medium and 1 large, all planted with the same plants in each planter, planted in triplicate.

3 x Small Planter:
Pelargonium tomentosum 'Chocolate Spot', Pelargonium 'Precision Bright Lilac', Pelargonium 'Lord Bute', Pelargonium denticulatum 'Filicifolia', Pelargonium 'Candy Dancer', Plectranthus coleoides variegata, Pelargonium Ivy Leaf 'Supreme Burgandy' and Amaranthus tricolor 'Red Army'.

3 x Medium Planter :
Pelargonium tomentosum 'Chocolate Spot', Pelargonium 'Precision Bright Lilac', Pelargonium 'Lord Bute', Pelargonium denticulatum 'Filicifolia', Pelargonium 'Clorinda', Pelargonium 'Royal Oak', Pelargonium grandeur odorata 'Cola', Plectranthus coleoides variegata, Pelargonium Ivy Leaf 'Supreme Burgandy'   and  Pennisetum glaucum F1 'Purple Majesty' (Ornamental Millet F1 'Purple Majesty') x 3.

3 x Large Planter:
Pelargonium cordifolium rubrocinctum, Pelargonium tomentosum 'Chocolate Spot', Pelargonium 'Precision Bright Lilac', Pelargonium 'Lord Bute', Pelargonium denticulatum 'Filicifolia', Pelargonium 'Clorinda', Pelargonium 'Royal Oak', Pelargonium Ivy Leaf 'Supreme Burgandy' , Pelargonium papilionaceus, Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate', Plectranthus coleoides variegata, Molinia caerulea 'Edith Dudszus' x 3.

All the pelargonium were used last year but there are some new additions used in the planters this year, they are:
Molinia caerulea 'Edith Dudszus', "rich purple almost black flower stems and dense flower spikes and dense flower spikes profusely produced from tussocks of good green foliage".
Pelargonium 'Candy Dancer', "Light mauve-pink flower, Rose-petal scented"
Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate', "Leaves have a distinct and attractive dark coppery hue".
Pennisetum glaucum F1 'Purple Majesty' (Ornamental Millet F1 'Purple Majesty') Dark purple leaves on maturity with a dark flower plume
Amaranthus tricolor 'Red Army', Deep red crimson foliage and flower spikes

Albizia, Pelargonium, Plectranthus, Molinia

Pelargonium And Amaranthus

Friday, 23 June 2017

Triennial Ball 2017

Acoustic Stage

After two weeks of hard work by the team the day of the Triennial Ball has arrived and the gardens are ready to welcome the many guests to the college. The contractors have put up all the marquees, lights, stages and food stalls, and the ball committee have paid great attention to the detail, making sure that everything is in place and ready to make the ball the perfect evening. 2020 will be the next time the college holds the ball.  

Plane Tree Lights

Live Stage and Big Wheel

Herbaceous Border Roped Off

Lighting In Place

'Border In The Corner' Roped Off

Dining Marquee

Bottom Border Roped Off

Banks Cut, Quad Cut and All Roped Off

Relaxation Marquee (View From The Lake)

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Preparing The Gardens For The College Ball

20 Rather Shaggy Yew Columns

Apart from their regular daily maintenance tasks the team's main priority over the last few weeks has been preparing the gardens for the college's triennial ball which is being held tomorrow night.

Just The Tops Left To Cut

Last week the team worked in the Provost's garden trimming the rather shaggy yew columns and yew hedges, smartening them up for the big day, the many roses were also dead headed and the borders weeded.

Cutting The Tops

Power Washing The Bridge

This week, with only two days to go, the bridge that links the Provost's garden with the Nuffield lawn was given a good wash off with the power washer.

Moving The Display

Over in the Provost's yard, Besse Building courtyard, the oak planters were removed from the central walkway and placed around the sides to create more space for the many guests. These planters will have their winter/spring display removed next week and replanted with their display for the summer.

Herbaceous Border (R) Roped Off

In the Nuffield lawn area, having been weeded and dead headed, the herbaceous borders and the 'border in the corner' were roped off to give the plants some protection just in case there is too much merriment resulting in a loss of balance! Tomorrow the team will continue to make the garden perfect for this very special event.

Herbaceous Border (L) Roped Off

'Border In The Corner' Roped Off

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Stihl HSA 25 Cordless Shrub And Grass Shears

The Stihl HSA 25 Cordless Shrub And Grass Shears Kit

Grass Shears With Trimming Blade Attached and The Hedge Trimmer Blade

Impressed by just how easy to use and how light, quiet, powerful the Stihl cordless blower and Stihl cordless hedge trimmer are, another piece of equipment has been purchased from the Stihl cordless range. For the hedge trimmer see blog entry 18th September 2015 'Stihl HSA 86 Cordless Hedge Trimmer' and the 7th September 2016 'Stihl Cordless Hedge Trimmer With Battery Belt'.

Telescopic Arm and Case

Pushing It Along The Top Of The Grass Banks

The new tool is the 'Stihl HSA 25 Cordless Shrub and Grass Shears' which is perfect for trimming the very awkward areas on the grass banks that the Flymo can not reach, these areas were previously cut with edging shears. With the Stihl telescopic arm attached to the trimmer, and the small wheels clipped on to its base, the new tool is pushed along the grass, the trimming blade cutting the grass as it goes. Impressed again the team are very happy with their new piece of equipment.    

Grass Shears With Grass Trimmer Blade

Stihl HSA 25 Cordless Shrub And Grass Shears With Telescopic Arm And Wheels

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Dalmatians With Plum Coloured Spots!

A Tray Of Foxgloves Grown From Seed

The Dalmatians in this blog entry are not of the canine variety but plants, Foxgloves, Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian Mixed'. Eleven months ago several different packets of seed were sown including this variety of foxglove, see blog entry for the 15th July 2016 'Eleven Half Trays And Six Shallow Pots'.

A Young Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian Mixed'

Having spent seven months in the greenhouse and cold frames the young Dalmatians were planted out in to the Provost's lodging borders in February and have continued to grow in their new home.

Rose 'Tuscany Superb' And Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian Mixed'

However it was not until this month, with the production of their tall flower spike, that they have shown just how perfect these Dalmatians actually are. Flowering next to the rose 'Tuscany Superb', the fragrant flowers of this rose are a dark crimson purple in colour, and compliment the plum coloured markings in the pure white flowers of the foxglove, this wonderful Dalmatian has plum coloured spots!
A Dalmatian With Plum Coloured Spots!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Agapanthus And Nerine

Agapanthus And Nerine Placed Out For Planting

The border in front of the Nuffield Building went through a transformation last month, see blog entry 16th May 'From Lavender To Bearded Iris'. However, the iris flower in May and early June, so what plant or plants could the team put in to the border to extend the flowering period and would also flourish in well drained, slightly dry soil, a sheltered position and in full sun? (The bearded iris love having their rhizomes partially exposed and baked in the summer sun!)    


The New Mixed Border (Left)

The plants chosen to accompany the iris are Agapanthus (African Lily), flowering June to September, and Nerine (Nerine Lily), flowering September to October. The two varieties of agapanthus, 'Navy Blue' and 'Torbay', have tall stems with deep blue and mid blue flowers respectively, and the four varieties of Nerine bowdenii are 'Marjorie', 'Alba', 'Isabel' and 'Stephanie', on erect stems have pink, white, magenta and cream with a rose tint respectively.
The border, with its mixed colour palette and different flowering times, should now provide interest from May to October. However, following the removal of the old lavender, the gardening team are aware of the loss of this high in nectar plant for the pollinating insects but have, in recent years, planted other areas of lavender for them in the gardens, see blog entry for the 25th June 2015 'Lavender In The Sainsbury Building Planters'.   

Agapanthus 'Torbay'