Friday, 15 May 2015

Two Goslings

The Canada Geese mentioned in blog entry 27th April 'The Reed Bed Maternity Unit', had eggs that hatched during the weekend of the 2nd/3rd May. Six goslings were seen on the morning of the 4th but by the evening just two remained. Two weeks have passed and the goslings have stayed close to their parents, eating grass and sleeping, growing up fast.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Cow Parsley 'Bashing'

The mass of frothy white flowers in the orchard signals that the Cow Parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris, is once again in flower. The gardener's annual task of removing some of it, in an attempt to control it spreading, began yesterday and continued today, ('bashing' as they call it). Using forks they dig it out of the grass but the tap roots are long and deep in the soil, snapping off as it is lifted, leaving a small piece behind which will grow again.

Wildlife spotted in amongst the grass whilst forking out the Cow Parsley, a Damselfly, wings folded along its abdomen, gently resting.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Peony 'Molly The Witch'

Paeonia mlokosewitschii, that's quite a mouth full so let's call it by its other name, Peony 'Molly The Witch', it's so much easier!

The gardeners have been waiting a long time, some 6 years, for these peony to flower. One plant, very small when planted, was donated and the others were seedlings dug out from a gravel path in the Fellow's Garden; luckily the seedlings have come true, the same colour as the parent plant.

Planted in the tree circles of the Ruskin Building's Serpentine Garden, the single lemon-yellow flowers light up each circle replacing the faded primrose yellow flowers of the Magnolia 'Elizabeth' that stand above them.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Peaceful Purples In The Corner

17th March 2015
Planted out at the end of October 2014, see blog entry for the 23rd 'Wallflower Sunset Purple And Tulip Shirley', the border in the corner has matured well and has been at its best this week.

For the spring display this year the colour scheme was purple. The ivory tulips, with purple veining on the edge of the petals, seem to float above the rich purple, fragrant blooms of the wallflowers, together creating a relaxing, peaceful effect.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Restoring One Of The Memorial Benches

Over the last few months work on restoring one of the memorial benches began. The bench was in poor condition, its paintwork flaking and in desperate need of restoration. Last month the old paint was removed using a power washer, blasting off the dirt and paint. The bench was then put in to storage until Tuesday when work on it began again.

 Using sanding tools of various shapes and sizes, Danny carefully removed the remaining paint creating a smooth surface to which the wood finishing oil could be applied.

The finishing oil chosen was 'Danish Oil' to give an attractive, water resistant low sheen finish. Applied using a cloth the oil was worked in to the wood, two coats were needed to penetrate and protect it from the elements it may encounter whilst out in the gardens. 

The beautiful wood grain, hidden for so many years beneath dirt and flaking paint, can now be seen again. For four days Danny has lovingly restored this memorial bench, soon to be seen out in the gardens again, once it has dried that is.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Birch Plant Supports

The coppiced birch cut down in January, see blog entry for the 22nd 'Coppicing At The Harcourt Arboretum', was delivered to the college a few weeks ago. This week Ali and Simon have been making the plant supports from the birch. Still pliable after 3 months they carefully weave the pieces together to create sturdy structures that will support the plants as they grow. New this year are decorative pieces made of willow, two spheres and a flower created by Ali on a recent willow weaving course.

Monday, 27 April 2015

The Reed Bed Maternity Unit


The reed bed has three occupants, a swan, mallard and moorhen. The reeds provide the perfect nesting material for the water loving birds to use, three nests have been built in it so far. Hidden amongst the reeds the moorhen is the hardest bird to spot, the reeds providing camouflage from predators, and prying eyes. The mallard has ten ducklings nestled underneath her for the night whilst the moorhen and swan are still incubating their eggs, an ideal habitat for a reed bed maternity unit.  


Over on duck island, just across from the reed bed, the Canada Goose is incubating her eggs, a prime location not to be shared with any other water fowl, the male goose patrols the waters to protect her.