Friday, 28 August 2009


996, that is the number of seedlings that have been pricked out by Lucy and Ali over the last few days, 896 winter bedding plants and 100 perennials. Each seedling has been placed into its own cell which will be its home for the next few months and will be part of this years winter bedding display.
Other news to inform you, is today we have received two new male ducks, both one year olds, but they are a bit shy so I have no picture to show you. They have been named Daffy and Donald, so watch this space.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Seedlings, Yew Columns and Two Snowmen in a Snow Storm

Some of the tasks this week have included the pricking out of the germinated seedlings, cutting the 20 Yew columns in the Provosts Garden and the continuation of the chemical store. The seeds were sown on the 3rd August, see blog "Hold The Front Page", and have now germinated successfully. Each seedling will need to be pricked out into its own cell within a cell tray where it will remain for a few more months.

Lucy and Ali were given the task of hedge cutting the 20 Yew columns. Once finished they started to prick out the seedlings, but, after cutting 20 Yews (Taxus baccata) the shoulders were aching and each tiny seedling felt like a tonne weight.

Graham and Ady continued the painting of the chemical store, a third and fourth coat of white applied to give it the perfect finish. Not sure if their suits were blue when they started and they painted each other as well as the walls!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Tomato Blight

The dread of all tomato growers has arrived at Worcester College in the Pump Quad display pots. It is caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans and loves to attack tomatoes, potatoes and their relatives in the Solanum species. Brown, rapidly spreading lesions can be found on the leaves and stems, spreading to form patches of rot on the fruit with infected tissues dying rapidly. The warm, wet weather seen in August has been the perfect breeding ground for this fungus. A close eye is being kept on the tomato plants in the display and may have to be removed.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Scattered Showers

What do gardeners do when those menacing dark clouds decide to empty a days rain on them in thirty minutes? RUN!
Ady ran for cover in the tool shed with the leaf blowing machine still attached on his back. Ali ran to stay dry under the arches between the cottages, after safely parking the ride on mower in a dry spot under a tree.
Lucy and Graham ran for protection in the cloisters, downing their tools on their way to the nearest dry point and Josh ran from the Provost's Rose Garden having stashed his mower in a dry corner.

Luckily, Ali had her camera with her so managed to get the photos of the rain drops as they hit the ground and prove just how heavy the rain fall was.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

A Change On The Horizon

Since the college was founded, the view from the cloisters has continued to change, most recently, over a four day period, during the week beginning the 10th August.
The Beech tree, thought to be over 100 years old, seen in the centre of the photo above was, after numerous tests, found to have the disease Ustulina deusta, and after consultation, the decision was made to cut it down. The disease found on broadleaved trees, including Beech, causes a soft rot and decays the stem base and/or roots making the area very brittle.

Tree surgeons, Phil, Dave, Eugene and James were called in to remove most of the tree starting with the lower branches.

This view is from the hebaceous border and can be seen late on in the sequence of photographs.

On the second day more of the Beeches canopy was removed as the surgeons worked their way up to the top of the tree.

At the end of day two, most of the right hand side of the canopy
had been removed, leaving the left had side to be cleared on day three.
By the end of day three, the team had successfully removed the canopy and put all the smaller branches through the chipper. All that was left for day four was a rather large trunk to be reduced.

On day four, the left hand side trunk was cut down in one large chunk and cut into pieces from the safety of the ground.

If you compare these next two photos, you will see that the Beech has gone from the horizon and the view from the cloisters and the hebaceous border has changed for ever more.
All that remains, of this once great Beech tree, is the trunk as it stands to remind us of its presence. I wonder what stories of Worcester College it could tell?

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner

Why are our Horse Chestnut leaves looking so brown, it's not Autumn yet is it? A lot of you have been asking this question and here is the answer.
The damage to the leaves is by the larvae of the Horse Chesnut Leaf Miner Moth, Cameraria ohridella, which like to burrow within the leaves and has been rapidly spreading across the south of the country since it was first seen in the UK in 2002. Severely damaged leaves shrivel and turn brown by late summer and fall early, well before normal leaf fall in autumn.
Despite their poor appearance, there is no evidence that the damage by the moth leads to the decline of the tree, but once infested, the tree will be attacked year after year.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

As The Crow Flies

The photos seen in this blog are rarely seen views as the crows fly. How? When the tree surgeons were removing the Beech from the Provosts garden they, very kindly, took some photos for us, so here you are, the views from above!

Friday, 14 August 2009

A Busy Week

Whilst the tree surgeons have been working hard in the Provosts garden, the gardeners have also been working hard on a number of large projects of their own. Apart from the regular weekly maintenance tasks, it is time to start the renovation of the chemical store, the painting of sheds and the cutting of the large yew hedge.

Within the old brick built chemical store, Kieran, Ady and Josh have begun to build a wooden frame. The ceiling and walls will then be boarded and painted with new storage and wash facilities added. This project will, hopefully, be finshed in the next few weeks. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, not so far
away, Simon and Graham
have spent two days
cutting the large yew
hedge that borders
the Provost drive.
Due to the height of the hedge, specialist equipment has had
to be hired to allow the safe
cutting of the top.

Also, not a stones throw away from all the guys, Ali and Lucy practice their painting skills and carefully paint Simons office and the shed next to it. The colour, Black, was chosen by the boss,

A Torch, Spanish Flag and an Exploding Fur Ball

Within the tropical bed this year, can be found a Torch, Spanish Flag and the exploding fur balls.
The torch in question is Tithonia rotundifolia 'Torch' or Mexican Sun Flower. This is a superb plant growing to about to 6 ft. It forms a large, compact plant and produces numerous bright orange dahlia-like flowers from July to October.

Mina lobata or as it it commonly known, Spanish Flag, is a quick growing annual climber with strong, reddish turning stems that can reach up to 12ft. It has up to twelve two inch tubular flowers on each flower spike starting from flame red at the tip and fading to cream.

The Fur Balls mentioned in the blog of 9th July, has continued to produce more translucent, soft, spiny balloons, but the older ones have started to explode, releasing its fluffy seeds into the air.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Last Piece Of The Jigsaw

In a dark, often leafy area of the college, known by the gardening team as Dead Squirrel Alley, named after an unfortunate rodent who fell foul there, a miraculous tranformation has occurred. It is the fourth and last part of a jigsaw that has now been completed. This area is a walk through connecting three planting areas, two of them mentioned in previous blogs, 22nd April "Finished" and 28th April "The Official Opening" and the Gloucester House Gravel Garden. Designed by Simon and Kieran and transformed with the help of Leadbitters, Dead Squirrel Alley is no more, its new name has yet to be decided!

Friday, 7 August 2009


Back on the 7th may, blog entry "Bodge It And Scarper Ride Again" we told you about the planting of the tomato plants. Well, 3 months on and we have an plentiful crop, being enjoyed by the gardening team.

The four varieties planted were:

Harlequin, a sweet, juicy,
rich red, long trussed, plum shaped
tomato.has an eye catching upturned
calyx resembling a jesters hat, as can be seen in the photo.

Sub Artic Plenty, a heavy cropper,
producing small red fruit ripening
very early with plenty of flavour.

Ailsa Craig, a traditional favourite, produces early medium sized
greenback fruit with exceptional flavour.

Golden Sunrise, a medium sized, early,
smooth, well shaped, golden yellow
tomato with a sweet fruity flavour.
The team water the crop daily and feed on
Fridays with Tomorite, a high potash feed.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Lovely Weather.....For Ducks

Following a very hot June could only be a wet July, but does it have to continue in to August too! It just keeps raining and the gardeners just keep getting wet. Thunder and lightning today and it felt like a months rain fell in just 4 hours. Unable to get a photo of eight soaking wet gardeners as the camera keeps getting wet, only animals enjoying the weather is the ducks.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Hold The Front Page !

Newspaper's, once read, are consigned to the recycling bin, shredded and put on the compost heap, or in this case they are used to cover seedling's. Thinking ahead to next Spring, now is the time to sow the seed's, for the bed's and border's around the College. A seed tray is filled with Multi purpose compost and watered well, seed's are sprinkled over the top, and then covered with a light dusting of the compost using a fine sieve, a light watering with a very fine rose on the watering can just to bed the seed's in ,and then cover with paper and keep in a cool, dark place to germinate, they all should be up in a week to ten day's. As soon as the seedling's are just breaking through the compost, remove the paper and put the tray's on top of the Glasshouse staging to grow on, but keep out of direct sunlight, they should be ready to prick out in about a week.
This year we have sown.. Pansies ' Deep Orange ' and ' Blue Blotch ' ... Myosotis ' Mon Amie Blue '.. and Bellis ' White and Mixed ', or basically..Pansies, Forget-me-Nots, and Daisies.
Spring is not exactly in the air, but it's good to look forward.