Friday, 7 September 2018

Deliveries Of Bulbs And Plug Plants

Bulb Order For Spring 2018 Received, 1779 Bulbs

Despite the warm weather constantly reminding the team that they were in the middle of, what turned out to be, a record equalling summer, for a few days in July they had to forget about this summer and start to prepare for the winter and spring by choosing the bedding plants and bulbs needed to create next year's displays. The first order to arrive this week were the bulbs that had been ordered from Peter Nyssen Flower Bulbs & Plants . The contents of the two large boxes were unpacked, checked and put into storage until the team are ready to plant them in the few months, the bulbs chosen are:
  • Tulips, 7 varieties, 'Exotic Emperor', 'Green Triumphator', 'Mount Tacoma', 'Orange Princess', 'Ronaldo', 'Turkestanica', 'White Triumphator'
  •  Narcissus, 13 varieties, 'Baby Moon', 'Beautiful Eyes', 'Hawera', 'Lieke', 'Martinette', 'Pencrebar', 'Petrel', 'Pipit', 'Pueblo', 'Rip Van Winkle', 'Sweetness', 'Tet Boucle', 'Tete-A-Tete'
  • Allium, 3 varieties, 'Ivory Queen', 'Karataviense', 'Purple Sensation' 
  • Lilium, 2 varieties, 'Claude Shride', 'Night Flyer'
  • Anemone 'Blanda White Splendour'
  • Camassia 'Cusickii', 
  • Fritillaria, 2 varieties, 'Meleagris', 'Imperialis Aurora'
  • Muscari, 2 varieties, 'Azureum', 'Latifolium'
  • Puschkinia scilloides 'Libanotica'

GM Free Vegetable Starch Bag (NOT PLASTIC)

Bedding Plant Delivery From Ball Colegrave

A second delivery arrived late yesterday afternoon, 3 trays of bedding plants, a total of 690 small plug plants from Ball Colegrave all needing to be potted up into their own individual pots before the end of today.

Three Trays of Plug Plants

Pushing The Wallflower Plug Out Of the Tray

Wallflower Plugs Ready For Potting Up

Ordered during the first week in July each tray contains 230 plug plants, 1 tray of Wallflower 'Sunset Orange', 1 of Wallflower 'Sunset Primrose' and 1 of Primula 'Husky Mixed Daffodil'. To reduce the risk of mixing up the contents the trays were worked on one at a time, gently easing the tiny plug plants out of their cells by pushing a pea stick up through the hole in the tray beneath each plant. Now free from the confines of their plug tray cells the young plants were potted up into their own 9x9x10 centimetre pots which contain a 50/50 mix of John Innes soil based compost and Petersfield seed compost. Put in to trays for easy transportation from the greenhouse, the pots were carried out to the cold frames and placed out in orderly rows. Given a good watering they will remain in the frames until about the middle of October when they will planted out with the bulbs in to the borders and pots for the winter-spring displays of 2018/19.

The First Few Dozen Wallflowers Potted Up

230 Wallflowers In Individual Pots

Primula Plugs

Primula Plugs Potted Up

One Of Two Cold Frames Full Of Potted Up Plants

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Potting Up The Young Homegrown Wallflower Plug Plants

Pricked Out 10th July Into Individual Plug Trays

Sown on the last day of July, see blog entry for the 31st July 2018 'Sowing Seeds For Winter-Spring 2018/19' , and pricked out on the 10th of August into individual celled plug trays, the young seedlings are ready for the next step in their journey which will eventually take them out in to the college border and container displays.

Young Wallflowers Plugs Ready For Re Potting

For three weeks they have continued to grow in their own little spaces putting on a healthy amount of top growth and developing a strong root system within the soil below.

Plug Plants

White Fibrous Roots

The tips of the white fibrous roots have now begun to spread beyond the confines of the plug tray's cells indicating the young plants are ready for their next move, the move to their own pot.   

Potting Benches Set Up Within The Shade Of A Large Evergreen Holm Oak

Today, within the shade of a large evergreen holm oak, the first of the young plants, Wallflower 'Sunset Orange'; Wallflower 'Sunset Primrose'; Wallflower 'Giant Pink' and Wallflower 'Blood Red Covent Garden, were gently eased out from the clutches of their cells and carefully placed into 10x10x11 centimetre pots filled with a 50/50 mix of John Innes soil based compost and Petersfield seed compost, all in all 347 plants. Having been placed out in to the empty cold frames these young wallflowers will remain in their pots until it is time for them to be planted out in the gardens in about four to five weeks time.

Empty Cells And Plug Plants
Placed In The Cold Frames

Monday, 3 September 2018

2018, A Record Equalling Summer

The Nuffield Lawn, 13th July 2018

Now that the meteorological autumn has begun, 1st September to the 30th November, and the hot summer months are, supposedly, behind us, it is a good time to reflect on what has now been declared by The Met Office as "the joint hottest on record together with 2006, 2003 and 1976".

Top Orchard, 27th July 2018

Nash Wall Lawn, 27th July 2018

Lower Orchard, 27th July 2018

The Sports Field, 13th July 2018

From the photographs above, the effects of this record equalling summer can clearly be seen. The areas of grass that do not have an automated watering system, as with the quad and the banks, have suffered from the lack of rain and high day time temperatures. From the end of June to mid August the daytime temperatures were regularly above 30C (85F) and not only was the grass flagging but the team were too! Both the grass and the team are resilient and have recovered from the endless heat, the grass is now green again following rain and dewy mornings, and the team are busy preparing the gardens for the autumn. 

The Nuffield Lawn, 31st August 2018

Top Orchard, 31st August 2018

Nash Wall Lawn, 31st August 2018

Lower Orchard, 31st August 2018

Sports Field, 31st August 2018

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Hydrangea paniculata 'Phantom' and 'Limelight'

The Sainsbury Building Weir Borders

The planting of the borders beside the two Sainsbury Building weir pools were completed in early autumn last year, see blog entry for the 29th September 2017 'The Transformation of the Sainsbury Building Weir'. Eleven months later the plants have settled into their new home with the Hydrangea paniculata 'Phantom' putting on quite a show, its white and pale to dark pink floret filled, conical flower heads being reflected in the stillness of the water. 

The showy display of the Hydrangea paniculata 'Phantom'

The Casson Building Borders

Another hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight', is also putting on a showy display. Planted several years ago in the borders of the Casson Buiding, these hydrangea are much lager than the younger 'Phantom' and are covered in larger conical, lime green to white floret filled flower heads. Both these cultivars of Hydrangea paniculata are worthy additions to the gardens and if these two are an indication of just how good the floral displays can be, H. paniculata 'Little Lime' and H. paniculata 'Pinky Winky', also in the gardens, will be well worth waiting for.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'

'Limelight' flowers

Large flower head

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Waiting For The Cloudy Days To Return

The longest box hedge, section one (Before)

This summer cloudy days have been few and far between, so few that this has caused a delay in the trimming of the box hedging and box balls in the gardens. The task to trim all the box, usually completed in June, has now begun in earnest before the clear skies return. The box, Buxus sempervirens, is now looking very shaggy and although desperate for a trim, due to box being susceptible to sun scorch when cut in very hot and sunny weather, the team have had to resist, until now, the temptation to trim it. Waiting for the cloudy days to return, last Wednesday the team, using the cordless battery Stihl hedge trimmers, began to trim the box starting with the first section of the longest hedge and, by this afternoon, had completed all four sections and the 33 box balls, job done for this year. 

The longest box hedge, section one (After)

The longest box hedge, section three (After)

The longest box hedge, section four (After)

Some of the 33 box balls (Before)

some of the box balls (After)

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Changing From Planters And Troughs To Borders

Display stone troughs and planters (winter/spring 2017-18 display)

The process of changing the method of displaying plants in the Pump Quad has been a gradual one. Once the proposal had been agreed, changing the stone planters and troughs to three, Indian sandstone edged borders, the project began. At the end of May the planters and troughs were removed from the quad and taken down to the sports field where they were to be used for plant displays in front of the pavilion.

Moving the stone troughs and planters 31st May

Loading a trough on to the fork lift attachment

Once emptied of the winter/spring plants and the spent compost, the now much lighter, but still very heavy, stone troughs and planters were moved out from the quad one at a time. Lifting them up onto the pump truck they were carefully wheeled out from where they have been in situ for some twenty years. With the sports field being at the opposite end of the college from the Pump Quad, the New Holland with the fork lift attachment was used to transport them to their new location.

Taking the trough to the sports field

Safely delivered

Trough and planter planted up for the summer, 31st May (L)

Once they had been placed in front of their new home they were filled with a mix of multipurpose compost and leaf mould before being planted up with their summer display.

Trough and planter planted up for the summer. 31st May (R)

Pavilion 3rd July

Five weeks later trough and planter (L)

Five weeks later trough and planter (R)

Border construction complete

Eight weeks later the next stage of the alterations continued with the creation of the first border by the landscape contractor, Pro Bits Landscapes. 

Yew in place

Filling the border

With the first border construction complete the team filled it up with a top soil/leaf mould mix and planted the architectural plants, two topiary yew.

Is the top of the root ball level with the top of the soil?

Two architectural, topiary yew planted

The second border construction completed

A further three weeks have passed and the construction of the final two borders were completed yesterday. Today the team worked on filling the new borders up with soil and planting the four remaining architectural plants, two topiary yew and two large Euonymus japonicus balls.

Loading the wheelbarrows

Filling up with top soil and levelling it

Treading down the soil

One and a half tonnes of the top soil mix was transported from the the trailer in to the Pump Quad using wheelbarrows and tipped in to the empty borders. The tipped out piles of soil were levelled using a landscape rake and trodden down to remove any air pockets and to prevent the soil level dropping in the future. By the end of the day the borders had been filled and the four plants planted, more shrubs, possibly hydrangea, will be planted in the coming months.

Two completed borders

New border (R)

New border (L)
The Pump Quad with its new borders