Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The Return of Bodge It & Scarper

After finally finishing the squirrel proofing of the peach house yesterday, Bodge It and Scarper, alias Mick and Ali, were reunited today to complete the last of the college pruning. This time, the outside peaches and fig.
The branches overhanging the lawns had to be removed as well as reducing their height for easy maintenance and fruit picking.

Before the fig pruning,
Mick wants to play hide
and seek. Can you see him?
Needless to say, the game
didn't last long and the
pruning of the fig began.

All the cut down material
is then transported to
the chipper pile and once
chipped, will be allowed
to rot down and eventually
used around the gardens
as a decorative mulch.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Greenhouse Day

It's Friday and it's Greenhouse Day. Lucy, Mick and Ali have been waiting for a rainy day so they can get into the greenhouse, but the weather has not gone to plan. Rainy days mean the gardeners retire to dry, warm conditions, rather than outside, but we can wait no longer as the seedlings need our help. All the Annual seeds sown in January and Perennial seeds sown in October now require pricking out and putting into individual pots.

Evergreen cuttings, also taken in September, need their own pots too. Along with the cuttings mentioned in an early blog entry, these will be used to create our Summer plant displays within the college grounds.

Next step, after potting up the hundred or so cuttings and seedlings, it is time to sow some more. Within the next month it will be Greenhouse Day again and then, maybe, the rain will come, as it is alot cooler working in the greenhouse when it is grey outside.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Mulch, Mulch, Glorious Mulch

Now that the hebaceous border has been titivated, a top coat of mulch is added to finish. Mulch helps to conserve soil moisture, blocks weeds from growing and the dark colour makes the border more attractive.
The mulch consists of rotted down leaves, hebaceous material, and grass cuttings collected over the previous 12 months from the college grounds as well as shredded paper from the offices.
The New Holland tractor
with the front grap is
used to collect the
mulch from one of the
many leaf pits
situated around the
college grounds.
Once the trailor
is filled, it is
transported to the
border and
forked into
These trugs are then poured onto the border around the newly emerging plants.

For the entire border, three trailor loads of mulch were used to give that lovely finishing touch.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

It's Official!

It's official, Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring! Friday 20th March is the first official day of Spring. A day the gardeners have been waiting for, and, boy, what a wonderful week it has been. Temperatures averaging twelve degrees and the many clothing layers have slowly been peeled away like butterflies emerging from their chrysalis. The newly emerging seedlings are growing at a rapid rate as the temperature has risen in the greenhouse and the pricking out will soon begin in earnest.

The herbaceous
border is coming alive,
fresh green tips
announcing their
emerging from
below. The soil
warming up in
the sun, forked
over to let the
air in and
a light sprinkling
of Growmore
added to feed
the hungry

Over crowded plants are being divided and the old tired parts added to the compost pile, leaving the new vigorous parts to continue to grow. Plants are also moved in the hope to create a better display this year.

The grass has begun to grow and the mowing increased. Another first, on the first day of Spring, is Lucy on the ride on mower. No stopping her now!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The Circle of Life

Back in September 2008 the gardening team took over 200 cuttings from plants around the Worcester College gardens. These cuttings, once successfully rooted, were potted into individual flower pots where they remained in the warm greenhouse over the Winter period.
As the heated greenhouse becomes full and the plants bigger, space then becomes a serious issue. Plants are then moved from this greenhouse, less tender plants at first, to the newly prepared, less warm, peach house.
There they will stay for about a month to acclimatise to their new conditions, when they are then moved to the cold frames. Their space is quickly replaced by the more tender plants that have had the extra time in the warm greenhouse.

The cold frames will slowly fill up over the next few months until the end of May when all the plants will be used out in the college gardens. September will soon be upon us and the whole process will begin again.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Banks

The cutting of the banks is a team event, today Josh, Simon, Lucy and Ali were involved. Last year the turf on the banks was replaced with Crested Hairgrass Turf (Koeleria macrantha), which has a very slow growth rate, and it is hoped this will reduce the number of times mowing is required.
A Flymo on ropes is used to mow the banks, with a petrol mower being used to cut the bottom, which can not be reached by the Flymo. All of the banks then have to be edged.
Lastly, the banks are swept down with a Besom as the Flymo can not collect the grass ,which is left laying on the turf. All the paths and steps are also swept clean.
The new Crested Hairgrass produces an extremely dense turf and an attractive colour, which is maintained throughout the year.

Monday, 16 March 2009

When all At Once I Saw A Crowd

When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

The words from the poem Daffodils by William Wordsworth, written two hundred years ago and still so apt. Walking through the orchard, by the lake, I came across the wonderful sight of a bee in one of the many Daffodils. He was completely intoxicated by the fresh nectar and barely moving, totally unaware of my presence. Spring has certainly arrived and the wildlife are joyfully welcoming it.

Friday, 13 March 2009

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss...

A team moss clearing exercise that took place this morning, safe to say we all have nice shiny blisters on our hands as evidence!!

Beautiful crocuses in the Fellow's Garden...
Removing weeds, ground elder, and general detritus in the Fellow's Garden.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Life's a Peach

Ah it's that time of year again, the birds are tweeting, the sun is shining (just!) and the trees are blossoming. Well, the peach trees that is. Now they are in flower, they are less susceptible to peach leaf curl, and so it is safe to prune them! This task I (Lulabelle) volunteered for, their previous years unruly growth, I was desperate to tame.

So secateurs and a saw in hand I headed for the peach house, along with Simon to ensure I did not get too ruthless in there. Quite a satisfying job, neatening it all up and tying in the lateral growth to the wires on the wall, we will be eagerly awaiting any fruit that should develop from the remaining blossom. I did my bit and buzzed around in there with a small paintbrush, emulating a bumble bee, sounds and all, going from flower to flower fertilizing the blooms. So if we can successfully protect the glasshouse from those rogue greedy squiggly squirrels, come the summer, life will be pretty peachy.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A Tangled Mess

What to do when faced with a Wisteria that has not been prunned for several years? Turn around and run? Lucy and Ali set to the challenge, but where to start?
Having studied the tangled mess they decided to start at the top and and work their way down. Next they removed the dead, diseased and damaged wood and then anything remaining was reduced to what would be a manageable height in the future. Having then replaced a few of the old wires and tied in the stems, the Wisteria was starting to take shape.

Finally, after a day working on the tangled mess, they stood back to admire the results of their labour. At last, a Wisteria with a framework, which would be used to prune back to in the coming years.

Friday, 6 March 2009

The Last One

After a week and a half, the great apple prune is now complete, forty plus trees covering both the orchards.
The last tree was finished this morning ending with the large Blenheim Orange.
The large amount of prunning is due to the need to reduce the size of our trees and will continue, on this scale, over the next two years. The end result, to be able to use small step ladders to pick the fruit and easily care for the trees in the future.

All the branches have been put through the chipper and, once rotted down, will be used in the gardens as a weed suppressing decorative mulch.

Our reward, to watch Worcester College V St Catherine's in the Semi-Final of the Cuppers Cup. Worcester won, 29-17, and the garden team finished a very satisfying week.