Monday, 6 August 2018

The Giant Inflorescence Of The Chinese Parasol Tree

18th December 2013

Planted in 2011-2012, the Chinese Parasol Tree, Firmiana simplex, has been causing quite a stir within the gardening team. Five years ago it was the giant leaves that gained its entry on to the blog, see entry for the 18th December 2013 'The Giant Leaf Of The Chinese Parasol Tree' but this time it is due to the numerous giant inflorescence that have never been seen before as this is the first time they have appeared. (Inflorescence: the complete flower head of a plant including stems, stalks, bracts, and flowers). As with the leaves the size of the inflorescence needed to be measured, the size, 28 inches in diameter and 24 inches from top to bottom. Hidden from view, this rare tree is located at the far end of the Nash Courtyard, the production of flowers have taken the team by surprise but the floral spectacle has been well worth the wait. The large inflorescence contain many small fragrant flowers, cream and white in colour with a hint of pink, and the pollinators love them too. 


7th August 2018 (See how much it has grown in five years!)

Hidden from view

Firmiana simplex, Chinese Parasol Tree

Covered in giant inflorescence

One giant inflorescence, 28 inches in diameter, 24 inches from top to bottom

Buds and flowers


The pollinating insects love the unusual flowers

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Sowing Seeds For Winter-Spring 2018/19

Seed Sowing Kit

Out in the gardens the summer displays in the borders, pots and containers are reaching their floral crescendo, meanwhile over in the nursery and greenhouse area the preparations for winter-spring 2018/19 has already begun. The annual deep clean of the greenhouse has started and the sowing of the plants for the floral displays were sown this morning.

The 10 seeds chosen are: Wallflower 'Sunset Orange'; Wallflower 'Sunset Primrose'; Wallflower 'Giant Pink'; Wallflower 'Blood Red Covent Garden'; Begonia x Hybrida 'Gryphon'; Bellis 'Bellissima Mix'; Dianthus 'Dash Crimson'; Digitalis 'Dalmation Creme'; Digitalis 'Dalmation White' and 'Digitalis purpurea 'Alba'.

Packets and containers of seeds

Filling the trays


Each of the half trays were over filled with seed compost and the excess removed using the side of a firming board, placing it on to the sides of the tray and gently moving it across the soil from one end to the other.


Pressing Flat

The firming board was then gently pressed down on the compost to create a level surface for sowing the seeds.

Flat surface

Half seeds trays ready for sowing

Wallflower seeds

To prevent the mixing up of the seeds a packet was opened, some of the contents broadcast over the compost of a prepared seed tray and then labelled. For an even distribution across the surface of the compost, a sufficient amount of seed is carefully tipped out in to the palm of the hand and the hand then moved across the filled tray, gently tapping it to drop the contents on to the soil. The completed label contains the name of the seed and the sowing date.

Seeds sown

Seeds sown in 10 half trays

Ready for watering

A small amount of compost was then sieved over the seeds to lightly cover them and, once all the seeds had been sown in their individual trays, were given a gentle watering using a watering can with a fine rose. All the trays were placed under the benches of the old, much cooler, greenhouse, on temporary staging created by plastic crates and covered with glass and newspaper. Germination is expected during the next few weeks.

Under glass and newspaper

In the cool under bench space

Update: 2nd August 2018 Wallflower 'Sunset Primrose' and Wallflower 'Sunset Orange' have germinated in just 2 days.

Wallflower germinated in just 2 days, 2nd August

 Wallflower seedlings

Thursday, 26 July 2018

A Visit To The Ball Colegrave Summer Showcase 2018

Trial Field Beds

This morning four of the team left the college for a few hours in search of more inspiration having already found plenty during the recent team visits to Waterperry Gardens Oxford, Christ's College and Clare College in Cambridge. Graham, Callum, Pete and Ali made the short trip out to Ball Colegrave in West Adderbury to look around the 8 acre site containing their Summer Showcase.

"Over 50,000 Annual and Perennial plants are bedded out in the trial and display beds and in excess of 3,000 baskets and patio containers are planted up for the event". (Ball Colegrave Summer Showcase 2018).

They found plenty of plant displays to stimulate their creativity, made copious notes of their favourite plants, took numerous photographs and picked up plenty of catalogues to take back to the college for future reference. Three visits in three weeks, all so different but equally inspiring.

Trial Field Beds

Pot Display

Pots and Planters

Pots and Baskets

Pot Display

Pot, Planter and Baskets

Tropical Themed Planting Display

Friday, 20 July 2018

Floating Flowers of the Water Lily

Water Lilies In The Sainsbury Building Weir Pools

Water Lilies In The SNSC Pools

Last autumn water lily, Nymphaea, were planted in to the pools beside the Sainsbury Building weir and in front of the new Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre (SNSC), see blog entry for the 7th September 2017 'Planting Water Lily'.  All three varieties have settled in well to their watery surroundings and in late spring leaves began to appear, rising up from the depths to float on the surface of the water. More and more leaves have appeared and, over the last month, cup-shaped flowers have emerged, opening during the day, their beauty encouraging the pollinating insects, particularly the Damselflies, to take a closer look. Producing flowers until September there are a few more months left to enjoy the wonderful display of the floating flowers of the water lily.

Nymphaea 'Albatross'

Nymphaea 'Joey Tomocik'

Nymphaea 'Joey Tomocik' flower and a new flower emerging from the water

Nymphaea 'Marliacea Rosea'

Monday, 16 July 2018

"Finest lawn in Oxford or Cambridge and therefore in Britain, and therefore the world"

Q is for Quad Man

In the weekend's Telegraph's Gardening section  was an article written by Tim Richardson celebrating the Great British Lawn entitled "An A-Z of Britain's love affair with the lawn". For the letter 'Q', see the first photograph, Tim writes about the 'Quad Man' and by the end of the 12 lines states that "the sward at Worcester College, Oxford, is generally considered to be the finest lawn in Oxford or Cambridge and therefore in Britain, and therefore the world". The next two photographs show the lawn as it is today and why it has justifiably received such an accolade.

"Finest lawn in Oxford or Cambridge and therefore in Britain, and therefore the world"

The Quad lawn

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

A Visit To Christ's College and Clare College, Cambridge

Second Court of Christ's College, Cambridge

Having found gardening inspiration close by with the visit to Waterperry Gardens last week, see blog entry 4th July 'Welcome To Waterperry', the team looked further afield for inspiration, their destination, Cambridge. Departing at 6:45am, and after a two and a half hour car journey, they arrived in the centre of Cambridge for their first tour around the gardens of Christ's College. Greeted by two of Christ's gardening team, Head Gardener, Sergio and gardener, Teina, they were given a guided tour of the college gardens seeing the First and Second Court, Third Court, Fellow's Garden, the Darwin Garden and the nursery/greenhouse area. 

Summer Planting, Hot Colours

The Fellow's Garden

The Fellow's Garden

Beehives In The Fellow's Garden

The Malcolm Bowie Bathing Pool, The Fellow's Garden

Third Court and Iris Collection

From Christ's College, and after a spot of lunch, they walked to Clare College for the second tour of the day. Met by Head Gardener, Steve, the team were taken around the gardens seeing the Old Court, Scholar's Garden, across the Clare Bridge to the Fellow's Garden, Formal Sunken Garden and on to the nursery/greenhouse area. Both gardens were full of inspirational planting and the team have come away with ideas for plants and planting combinations that may, perhaps, be seen in the gardens at Worcester one day. Thank you to the gardeners of both colleges for sparing some of your valuable time to show the team around, it really is appreciated.

Trinity Lane Entrance of Clare College, Cambridge

Old Court

Borders In The Fellow's Garden

Colourful Planting In The Fellow's Garden

Barbara Hepworth's Two-forms (Divided Circle)

Through The Yew To The Formal Sunken Garden

The Formal Sunken Garden

The Sub-tropical Garden

Tropical Planting