Monday, 25 January 2010

A Flash of Blue

For those of you who are working, visiting or studying at Worcester College, you may wish to take a walk towards the wooden bridge over the lake by the tree fern glade. If you are lucky, out of the corner of your eye, you may see a flash of blue just above the water or a spot of cinnamon sitting in a low hanging tree branch. If you are lucky enough to see this, then you will have seen the Kingfisher which has been seen on numerous occasions by the gardening team. Best of luck, it's well worth it.

First Cut

Josh has been staring longingly at his turf hidden below all the recent snow fall, but now it has all melted they have reunited. Today is the day for its first cut and the beginning of this years partnership between Josh, his mower, Dennis and the front quadrangle lawn. The reason for this early cut is that there is already a need to spray the lawn with a fungicide to prevent turf diseases such as Fusarium and Red Thread. The fungicide, Chipco Green, is best applied after cutting.

Friday, 22 January 2010


In 2008 the gardening team returfed the banks in the main quadrangle with Crested Hairgrass turf. This turf is made up of 100% Barkoel Crested Hairgrass, Koeleria macrantha, which poduces an extremely dense turf with a very slow growth rate. Unfortunately, the turf have been contaminated with some meadow grass, which grows at a faster rate, thus creating patches of lush, long grass amongst the slow growing dense grass. In order to repair this, we are attempting to grow our own Crested Hairgrass turf so we can replace all the odd looking patches of meadow grass.

First the trays are filled with a mix of sandy loam and compost, then the mix is levelled to make a smooth flat surface for the Barkoel Crested Hairgrass seed to be sown on.
After the seed has been sown the compost is seived over the top and watered. We now have eight large trays waiting for the seed to germinate and over the next few months we will have created new turf for us to use in the banks.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Not Such a Tangled Mess

For those of you who have been regularly following our blog, you may remember the entry "A Tangled Mess" from the 10th March 2009 in which I spoke about the pruning of a very challenging Wisteria. Well, earlier than last year, that Wisteria is in need of it's annual hair cut, this time by Joe and myself. Instead of taking all day it only took 2 hours, making it not such a tangled mess. Over the next six weeks the gardening team will, amongst other things, prune all the Wisteria, Campsis, climbing and shrub roses. Secatuers are sharp and ready to go.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

"We Did Well Today"

Today the gardening team got to start their first real project of the year following all the disruption caused by the snow. The plan is to create a winter themed border along the path to the Linbury Building.

The first task was to clear the area , cutting down all the overgrown shrubs that cover the border. Armed with secateurs, loppers and saws they begin to cut it all down and make very good headway before tea break. Working along the border, from left to right, they begin to expose the base of the shrubs which will need to be dug out.

The shrubs have been in place for a number of years and will take a lot of effort to dig them out, Graham, Josh, Joe and Kieron use their considerable power to do this. However, as they work along the border, following behind the cutting down team of Ali and Lucy, the task becomes alot harder as more and more shrub roots start to entangle themselves. Simon then turns up with the New Holland tractor with the grap on the font and rips all the roots in a matter of minutes!

Once all the shrubs and their roots have been cleared, the border is forked over to clear any remaing rubbish. The area is then tidied up for the night and should the forecast snow not materialise, we will return tomorrow to dig in the compost to rejuvenate the soil. As Simon says "We did well today".

Friday, 15 January 2010

I'm Melting!

After two weeks of spreading salt on the college paths and getting thoroughly fed up with the white stuff, it is melting. The colours are reappearing around the college, slowly emerging from the blanket of white. The smiles have returned to the gardeners faces and normality returns, hoorah!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Redwings and a Parakeet

This winter has been very tough on the wildlife as well as the gardening team, but we like to work hand in hand with our neighbours. Food has been placed out for the ducks on the frozen lake and on the table for the birds. Due to the heavy blanket of snow, sightings of rare birds have become common place in the college gardens.
The Redwing's have been seen in numbers along the Nelson street path and by the chipper at the bottom of the sports field. The frozen ground has made it difficult for them to feed in the fields where they are usually found, so they have moved to built up areas.

Another visitor to our gardens has been a Parakeet which has been seen sporadically over the last few years. This Parakeet has been named Barry by the gardeners and has been seen in the gardens again today. Welcome back, Barry.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Worst Winter In 30 Years

The last words I wrote on the blog last Tuesday, 5th January were:

"as we left work today the snow clouds arrived and began to drop their contents all over the college grounds. What awaits us tomorrow, we will have to wait and see?" Well, the last three days have been unbelievable.

"It's the worst winter in 30 years" the media have informed us and I think they are right. Three of our gardening team, Lucy, Joe and Josh weren't even born thirty years ago. Ady and Graham, who have worked in the college gardens for 30 and 20 years respectively, are holidaying in the sun and I was snowed in at home for the three days, trying to dig myself out but left defeated and unable to get to work.
Over the last three days Simon's gardening team has been very depleted in numbers, scattered all over the world, so any body who managed to get in, by any methods possible, has been greatly appreciated.
The main task, to clear all the paths and to keep them clear as the snow continued to fall and freeze over night. The climax of the whole snowy experience came today when the car park had to be cleared to allow cars to leave safely. The call for volunteers resulted in men coming from all departments with the kitchen staff providing hot drinks and food for the workers. Shovels, heavy machinery and human endeavour worked tirelessly to move the snowy blanket and free all of its captives. Team work of the highest order.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

On A Sad Note

It is with great sadness that I have to report the loss of our Muscovy ducks, Donald and Daffy, see blog entry 9th September. Daffy died over the Xmas break and Donald yesterday. We are not sure why, perhaps the cold weather had something to do with it as we know they were very well fed.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

A Cold Start

Welcome back to the Worcester College Blog. After almost two weeks away from the college the team returned refreshed from their winter break, only to find that the new decade was as cold as the previous one has ended. First job, to pour hot water on to the shed padlocks so we could get at our tools. Next, to find a very sunny spot and stay there all day.The sunniest spot in the college was found to be along the canal, so it was decided that the team would tidy the hedge that bordered the water. This job would take a few days, but as long as the sun continues to shine this is where the gardeners will remain.
However, as we left work today the snow clouds arrived and began to drop their contents all over the college grounds. What awaits us tomorrow, we will have to wait and see?