Wednesday, 28 October 2009

360 Green Bottles

The apples and pears have all been juiced and the gardeners now have the result of all their hard work, 360 bottles of Worcester College apple and pear juice. Now all they have to do is label each bottle, one on the front and one on the back, 720 labels!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Scarifying On A Large Scale

Josh has spent the last month scarifiying lawns, but today he has enlisted the help of Kieran to scarify the Provost's lawn, one of the college's biggest lawns. Due to the lawns size, Josh's mower, Dennis, is not big enough to cope with the requirements, so another piece of kit is needed. The Amazone Scarifier is attached to the big blue tractor and, at between 1-6 mph, is driven carefully over the lawn.
As with the Dennis, the Amazone removes the dead grass and thatch that has built up during the mowing season allowing water and nutrients to reach the grass roots.

As the blades rotate through the lawn it collects the grass into the box, 1.25 metres cubed, and once full, is emptied into a pile. Over two days, numerous boxes were filled leaving the lawn looking rather bare, but Josh is confident the grass will come back looking stronger and better than before. Now all he has to do is aerate the entire lawn!

Monday, 26 October 2009

A Coating of Many Colours

The battle against the invading force of leaves has entered its second month, with the gardeners still holding back on using the big machinery. The shoulders and arms may be tired, but the team keep the leaves from the paths and lawns. The unusually warm weather has continued and the leaves are clinging onto the trees with their last ounce of strength, but once the frost arrives a fall of huge proportions will occur.
This continued mild weather has resulted in a spectacular coat of many colours, both on the ground and on the trees. Bronze, Gold, Brown, Yellow,Orange, the list of adjectives is unending, as the leaves change colours and slowly float to the ground.

Friday, 23 October 2009


You might be forgiven for thinking that climate change has resulted in our Snowdrops getting confused and flowering early, but this is not the case. Under a tree on the Nuffield lawn, a sight usually associated with late winter, early spring, can be found. Galanthus reginae olgae is an autumn flowering Snowdrop that flowers in October/November, producing strongly scented flowers before its leaves appear.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

On The Move Again

This year the frost has been late to arrive and has allowed the tender, less hardy plants in the tropical bed to stay outside a little longer. How much longer it will be before the frost arrives is unknown, but we can not risk these plants being hit by a sudden drop in temperature.
The team have to dig up all the plants, the largest taking the strength of four men to lift it out of the soil. They are then placed into the trailor for transporting to the greenhouse where they are potted up for winter storage.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

It is a very busy time for the gardeners at the moment with all areas of the garden needing attention. Joe, under the guidance of Ady, built some new staging in the greenhouse to increase the space available for the plants.

Meanwhile, Ali with some help from Graham, Simon and Kieran potted up all the cuttings taken in September. These plants were potted up into a mixture of John Innes soil based compost and a multipurpose compost.

Once the new staging had been finished, Joe, Ady and Graham started to remove the giant bananas from the college borders and brought the first of many into the greenhouse for protection over the winter. Josh, unable to use a spiking machine on the banks, continues to spike them with a fork!


Back on the 4th of June, blog entry "Totally Tropical", the Tropical bed was planted out. The photo above shows how well it developed over the last 5 months. It is now time for the bed to be cleared out ready for the winter display to be planted and the frost tender, less hardy plants to be placed into the greenhouse.
It is a tradition that the gardeners have their annual team photo in front of this border just before it is ripped out. Joe, far right, has joined the team recently with Lucy on her honeymoon, and Mick awaiting a new knee, missing.

Friday, 16 October 2009

2nd Batch

Due to the large number of apples and pears still on the trees, we decided to pick another batch for juicing. This time we picked the eating apple, Darcy Spice; the cooking apple, Bramley and a pear. Eventually ten more baskets were filled and taken by Kieran and Simon to Waterperry for juicing, they returned with 200 bottles of juice from our first pick.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009


On a warm Monday afternoon and a rather cold Tuesday morning, the gardeners set about collecting a variety of apples, cookers and eaters, along with some pears, in preparation for juicing. About a dozen baskets of fruit were eventually collected and transported to Waterperry Gardens to undergo their juicing process resulting in, hopefully, 100-150 bottles of Worcester College Apple & Pear Juice 2009.

Once at Waterperry, the fruit is hand sorted to check for any bruising and damage. The best juice is made from a mixture of apples, eaters are too sweet and sickly on their own, so cookers make the best base for juicing. The fruit is placed into a giant food processor and chopped up to a pulp, the pulp is placed into several square frames, each wrapped in a cloth, this is called a cheese! Nine cheeses are then placed in a cheese stack and then pressed under high pressure to produce our Worcester College juice. Only vitamin C is added to our juice.

The juice is then taken to be bottled into heat sterilised bottles and once cooled down will be labelled. The juice is ready to drink at anytime, best chilled, and, if left unopened, lasts 18 months, or if opened, use within 3 days. Look out for our juice, it's coming to Worcester College soon!

Thursday, 8 October 2009


In what has been an extremely busy week for Josh, he has also verticut the main quadrangle lawn, the show piece of the college lawns. Verticutting is a very similar process to scarification, but much less harsh.

The verticutting blades are much closer together than the scarifier blades, and with his trusty companion Dennis, he just changes Dennis' cylinder depending on what he is doing. The blades do not engage the soil, instead, passing through the grass swards cutting off horizontal shoots of stubborn long grasses. The lawn does not need to be over seeded and top dressed, but has a similar result to scarifying allowing water and nutrients to reach the grass roots.

The debris from scarification and verticutting is collected and added to the compost heaps. This bag of debris was from just half of the main quadrangle.


Continuing on with his maintenance, having scarified the lawns at the front of the college, Josh begins a process called Aeration. The machine he uses has lots of solid tines on a cylinder that spike holes into the lawn as it moves. These holes enable oxygen and moisture to reach the grass roots, carbon dioxide to escape and remove compaction, allowing roots to grow deeper and to spread more easily.

Hardening Off

Sown on the 3rd August, blog "Hold The Front Page" and pricked out 28th August, blog "996", our young plants have now been moved into the outside world, but still within the safety of the nursery. The cold frame was swept out and weeded and all slugs forcefully removed before their arrival. They will now stay here for two weeks before joining the other plants in the borders. This gentle process is called Hardening Off.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Autumn Colour

With leaf fall comes Autumn colour, we can not have one without the other. The first tree to show its amazing colour is the Cherry (Prunus spp.) on the main lawn and the last will be the Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and the Beech (fagus sylvatica).

Leaf colour is part of the process mentioned in the blog entry 21st September, "They All Fall Down", so here is the next bit of education for you about leaf autumn colour!
When days grow short and nights cool, deciduous trees decrease chlorophyll pigment production allowing other pigments present in the leaf to become apparent, resulting in autumn colour. These other pigments include carotenoids that are yellow, brown and orange. Anthocyanin pigments produce reds and purple colours, though they are not always present in the leaves but are produced in the foliage in late summer when sugars are trapped in the leaves after the process of abscission begins.