Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Now The Digging Is Done

The wettest week of the year so far has allowed Lucy and Ali to finish the digging in the greenhouse. Both sides are now ready for planting in a months time, with such things as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, chilli peppers, courgette and maybe even a melon or two.
Whilst work went on inside the greenhouse, Kieron, Joe, Simon and Graham continued to work on the new border, removing all the slabs and hardcore, then digging in leaf mould/manure, finally covering with shingle and planting a few plants.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Forecast Rain

Someone must have forgotten to put their clocks forward as it still feels like winter outside, a very wet, windy, cold week has been forecast. The team are trying to occupy themselves by carrying out jobs inside or working outside between the breaks in the rain. Lucy and Ali have spent the day digging leaf mould/manure into the newly emptied greenhouse, one border down, one to go.
Kieron, Joe and Simon have started to cut out and remove the slabs down in the Gloucester House area to create another new border.

And as tradition states, the newest member of the team gets to be a bee for the morning in order to pollinate the peach flowers, buzzing noises were heard in the Peach House this morning as Joe did his best bee imitation, pollinating each flower with a small paint brush. Now we wait to see if he was a good bee and we get lots of peaches this year.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Seed Sowing

With British Summer Time arriving at the weekend, it is time to sow our seeds for this summers colourful display. The peppers and tomatoes were sown in the middle of February and are ready to be pricked out, so now it is time to sow the annuals and perennials. Cosmos, Lobelia, Sweet Pea, Ricinus and Rudbeckia to name but a few, to name them all would give away our display for this year. Allison and Joe spent the day in the greenhouse and now have to wait to see how many germinate successfully.

A short walk from the greenhouse is the orchard, where the Daffodils have finally opened. The same daffodils had opened last year by the 16th March, so are some two weeks behind, see blog entry 'When All At Once I Saw A Crowd', they were well worth waiting for.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Gaudy 1966-70

Over the past two days the team have been extremely busy preparing for the first Gaudy of the year. For those of you who don't speak college speak, a Gaudy is a celebratory reunion feast or entertainment held at a college. This gaudy is for those matriculated, joining the college, between the years 1966-70, to be held this weekend. The next will be held on the 2nd October and will be for old members who joined 1958-59, 2002-03 and 1954 or earlier.

The herbaceous and tropical borders has been weeded, fed with Growmore a granular feed, forked over and edged. All the paths have been hoed and raked, and lawns mowed.

The gardens are now ready for the Gaudy, lets hope the weather holds as the clocks move forward one hour and announce the start of British Summer Time.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Nice Soft Cushions

Not only is finishing the week planting snowdrops a lovely thing to do, but starting the week planting them is a great to start the week too. More snowdrops had been given to the college, so we have continued to expand the snowdrop area on the Nuffield Lawn, with all the team getting involved today. Notice from the photo that only the male members of the team need to kneel down on cushions to protect their knees!

Having completed the snowdrop planting yesterday, the team moved back in to the Rose Garden to mow and edge the lawn, weed the borders and paths and finish pruning the roses. The garden is now ready for it's stunning display in May/June.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Temperatures Hotter Than Greece

We have spent the winter in the coldest temperatures in the last 31 years and now the weather forecasters have advised us that we have seen temperatures hotter than Greece this week. The hot dry weather has allowed the team to complete a number of tasks around the college.
Josh has over fed the Nuffield Lawn with a granular feed, which, once the rain comes, will wash in and steadily release nutrients into the lawn.
Graham hoed off the Cow Parsley that was beginning to grow and would have crowded out the snowdrops along the Nelson Street path down to the Canal Building.
Simon, Joe and Ady have replaced the Birch binding on The Broadwalk which, over the last two years, had become brittle and broken in to tiny pieces.
The guys also started to prune the roses in the Provost's Rose Garden, Lucy and Ali missed the pruning this year, at college and on holiday respectively.
The week ended with a visit to Lady Margaret Hall College, LMH, to collect a tray of snowdrops for planting between the Hornbeam and the Beech trees on the Nuffield Lawn at Worcester. Thank you to the Head Gardener, Ben, at LMH, for his generosity and planting snowdrops is such a lovely way to finish off a busy week.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey is a National Trust property, well known for its spectacular gardens with something to see in each season, it is here that the gardeners have travelled for some inspiration. After a two hour drive to Cambridgeshire, it is the Winter Walk and the Winter Border that we have come to see, needing inspiration and ideas for our newly formed border in the college grounds.

The path winds itself through the rich colours for almost quarter of a mile, the borders containing some 150 species of plants all chosen specifically for their attractiveness in the winter. The sun is out and is illuminating the colours as we walk through.

There are too many plants too mention but we have plenty of choice to add to our new border to create a winter colour spectacular, on a smaller scale, at Worcester College. Huge drifts of Dogwood, Willow, Whitewashed Bramble and Mahonia, so many to choose from.
Anglesey Abbey is well worth a visit and a day enjoyed by all the team

Monday, 15 March 2010


Another busy week ahead for the gardening team as the temperatures increase and the garden awakes from its winter slumber.
Graham, Joe, Simon and Ady have spent the day moving a large compost heap from the bottom of the orchard to the top of the sports field, clearing the area in preparation for the start of this years grass cutting.
Josh has continued his work on the college front lawns, top dressing with soil and over seeding with grass seed to create a luxurious lawn as you walk in to the college this summer.
Ali and Lucy finished cutting out tree circles around the youngest of the apple trees in the orchard, feeding them with a nutritious mulch, now that they no longer have to fight for nutrients with the grass. Once they finished in the orchard, they moved to the herbaceous border to cut down the Golden Dogwood, Cornus alba 'Aurea'. The stems have given a lovely display of red, but now we require new stems to grow, to provide us with their golden leaves this summer. As we work in the border the Crocus are in flower behind us, on the Nuffield Lawn, replacing the Aconites that have finished their display.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Ditch Clearing

This week has been a very busy week for the team, apart from finishing the apple and pear tree pruning in the orchard, a number of other jobs, not mentioned in earlier blog entries, have been done.
The lawns at the front of the college have been scarifyed and along with the quad lawn and the banks, have all been sprayed with a fungicide and fed with iron.
Work in the old greenhouse has continued and is now empty waiting for a new white wash over the inner brick work, leaf mould has been brought down from the top of the sports field ready to be dug into the tired soil.
Two benches have been removed from the grounds and left to dry in the sheds. Armed with sheets of sandpaper, these benches have been sanded down ready to be painted with a preservative.
The moving of Snowdrops and Aconites has continued and the seeds have started to be sown for our vegetables and summer display.
To end the week, the team finished emptying the ditch that surrounds the sports field. This job was started before Christmas, but due to the wet weather the leaves have had to be left in the ditch until they and the ditch had dried out.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Reshaping The Apple Trees

The last two fruit trees have been pruned today, but as you walk in the orchard you may notice, what appears to be, modern art hanging from a number of trees. There is a reason for this, and it is not the gardeners attempt to win The Turner Prize. As we continue to reduce the height and change the shape of our trees we have had to tie a number of weights to new, 1 to 2 year old shoots. These shoots are still flexible enough to change the direction they are growing, with a little help from us. In the next few weeks the weights will be removed leaving the shoots to continue growing in their new directions.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

I Am Not A Snowdrop

To the untrained eye I may look like a Snowdrop, be the same colour, of similar height and flower at the same time, but I am not a Snowdrop. I am a Snowflake, Leucojum vernum, white in colour with pendulous flowers, a more open flower with green spots on my petals tips.
I am a Snowdrop, 'Lady Beatrix Stanley' is my name. I am a very neat, delicate Snowdrop with lovely white double petticoats edged with green. My outer petals are long and I have two tiny green marks on my inner petals, on short 15 cm stems.
If you walk along the Broadwalk you will see us both, come, take a look, we won't be here for long.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Four Men and a Lady

The weather has improved becoming warmer during the days, although still cold at night. The change in temperature and conditions has meant the grass has started to grow, with the sound of the mowers now being heard around the college. Josh, Ady, Graham, Joe and Lucy cut the banks in the front quadrangle for the first time this year. The ropes are once again tied to the Flymo and the start of a busy mowing season begins. Click on the play button below to see a film of how it is done.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Pruning Of The Apple Trees - Year 2

As I mentioned last year, the gardeners are reducing the height and spread of our fruit trees in the orchard. This year, year two, a few more branches will be removed to reduce their height allowing any fruit produced to be collected at a safe height. The centre of each tree will be kept clear to allow air movement and the spread reduced in length so as not to cause heavily laden branches to snap. All the wood removed is taken to our chipping pile where it will be chipped to produce a decorative mulch which will be used, at a later date, in the gardens. The pruning will continue over the next week, then it will be the roses turn in the Provost's Garden.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Welcome Back, Chris

New blades have been put on our pruning knives and the ladders got out ready, yes, it must be apple pruning time again. For those of you who have been following our blog for some time, you may remember Chris from Waterperry Gardens, our apple pruning expert, see entries for 2009, 28th Feb and 14th Sept. Well, he has made another visit to our gardens to continue over seeing our pruning programme and to offer us more advice and guidance in pruning our trees. Tomorrow the pruning will be left to us, we had better pay attention.

The Answer To Our Question

The photograph is not one I have taken, but this is the sight that is waiting for you if take a walk by the lake. The twitchers amongst the team have been asking themselves, why have we seen so many sighting of our Kingfisher recently?, well, the answer is, we have a pair. Spotted today, for the first time, were a pair of Kingfishers flying just above the lake. A sight to behold, not just one, but two flashes of blue.

Monday, 1 March 2010

First Day of Spring

We have been advised by all forms of the media that this winter has been the coldest in 31 years, since 1978/79, with the Met Office's records showing an average temperature of just 1.5C, that's 2.2C below the norm. However, today, the 1st of March, the daytime temperature has reached 10C and the gardeners have all taken their thick winter coats off. They have joined the butterflies, such as Brimstone and Peacock, seen for the first time this year, warming their newly formed wings in the sunshine along with daffodils that are beginning to open their flowers. Today must surely be the 1st day of spring.

The first day of spring also means a spring clean and for us this means clearing out the old greenhouse which, as the photos show, contains no plants, just rubbish or items wanting a new home. When cleared and the broken glass replaced it will be used to grow plants once again.