Friday, 29 October 2010

Fascicularia bicolor

A plant of note within the gardens, giving a stunning display at the moment, is Fascicularia bicolor. This exotic, unusual looking plant originates from Chile and can be found adjacent to the lake, in an old Holm Oak tree stump, on the Nuffield Lawn. Its brightly coloured foliage and rosette flowers in the centre, draw your eye to it as you pass by, but don't get too close, its foliage is tough and spiny, but still well worth a careful look.

Hot Colours For Winter

The corner border has been ripped out and prepared for planting, so it is time to bring the plants from the nursery and a few structural plants recently purchased.
This years scheme is to provide a hot colour border for the winter and spring, red, yellow and orange. The structural plants, Cornus alba will add height and Photinia fraseri 'Little Red Robin' adds structure at a lower level, whilst the viola's and wallflower create a blanket of cover over the soil.

Chasing Your Tail

The wind has been so strong today that Joss and the ride on mower were left defeated. The photo above was taken at 13:30 after Joss had already spent the morning mowing this lawn, the leaves just kept on falling.

By 16:00 this photo shows the leaves in victory, Monday morning it will be Ady or Kieron and the ride on mower who face up to the leaves, who will be victorious this time?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Light Drizzle

In the early morning drizzle, Simon, Joe and Ali begin their day in the Provost's rose garden, cutting back the herbaceous material and lifting another plant that has started to take over. This time, as with the Euphorbia schillingii in the Serpentine Bed, it is the Veronicastrum that has created large robust mounds within the beds, for the worst offenders it is time to be removed.
Ady and Graham take the opportunity the drizzle has given them to do some wheelbarrow maintenance, checking all the wheelbarrow tyre pressures and oiling all the bearings. As the day progresses the weather deteriorates and the team are forced to move indoors for the afternoon.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Bulb Forcing

Joe and Ali spent a few hours this morning forcing bulbs; Hyacinth 'Anne Marie'; Fritillaria meleagris; Fritillaria elwesii and Narcissi 'Avalance'.
The reason for forcing some of our bulbs is to make them flower before their natural flowering season allowing us to create a display indoors in the senior common room.
Once all the bulbs had been potted up into compost they covered them with a thick layer of sand outside in a coldframe. This will mimick what would happen naturally if they had been planted outside and, once they start to shoot through the sand the pots, will be lifted and then planted in our indoor display planter.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

All Change

The team photo was taken yesterday, so Ady and Graham spent the day ripping out the corner border, the annuals taken to the compost heap and plants, needed for next year, taken to the greenhouse for potting up. (The photo above was taken in September when the border was at its best)
Once all the plants have been removed, the area is weeded and levelled ready for the winter bedding to be added next week.

Ali, Simon and Joe spent the morning in the Provost's Yard planting up the oak and lead planters. The main structural plants, Tree Ferns, Holly, Liquid Amber, Eucalyptus and Box balls remain in the planters all year to which other plants are added.

These additional plants may look familiar, they were used in various planters last winter and, after being removed in May/June, spent the summer in a healing in area where they grew into much larger specimens, creating a much better effect this year.

The finishing touches to the planters are the Viola, Wallflower, Polyanthus and bulbs all making for a colourful display for the coming winter and early spring months ahead.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Team Photo

It's that time of year again when the corner border needs to be ripped out, so the team get together for their annual photo. Joined by Alan Ware, the Garden Master and our new ride on mower, absences Joe, our budding apprentice, who is at college and Henry, Simon's dog, asleep in the tea shed.
By the end of the day, after a few hours of leaf raking, Kieron and Ali have put the first coat of preservative on the cold frame, whilst Ady and Simon covered the hardy banana with fleece and loft insulation for the winter.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Euphorbia schillingii

Having planted the Serpentine bed three yeears ago, the Euphorbia schillingii has now taken over, smothering some plants and collapsing. Its vigorous stems shoot up each spring and have created large, robust mounds which now need to be removed.

Joe and Ali start cutting down the Euphorbia, joined by Simon, Ady and Graham who help get all the mounds out, which put up quite a fight.

Back in the nursery area, Kieron is repairing the wooden cold frame structure which has started to rot. He cuts out the worst areas and replaces it with new wood ready for coats of preservative, which will be added over the next few days.

Friday, 15 October 2010

2 Inches

The beast of a banana, brought in from the cold yesterday, has already grown two inches overnight, should be back to 20 foot tall in no time!

Thursday, 14 October 2010


The most difficult place to spike is in the banks as, due to the slope, it has to be done manually with forks. Joe and Joss will spend the next two days spiking, creating holes in the turf, enabling oxygen and moisture to reach the grass roots.

In From The Cold

With freezing temperatures due next week, it is time to get the bananas in from the cold, the largest being about 20 foot tall.

A hole is dug around the root ball and gently dislodged from the soil around it. Three strong men, Joss, Ady and Graham, then lift the giant out of the border to the waiting trailor for transport to the greenhouse.

This banana was one of several lifted today, but none bigger than this beast.

Once outside the greenhouse the top is cut off reducing the height down to 5 feet, potted up and watered in, there it will sit until June next year.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Low Cut, Verticut and Triage

The banks have been scarified but today the flymo has been brought back out and the cutting height reduced to give them a lower cut. The guys spent all day mowing the banks removing even more thatched grass, all that remains is spiking.

Meanwhile, Joss spent the time verticutting the quad lawn, a less harsh process than scarifying. The blades pass through the grass swards cutting off horizontal shoots of stubborn long grasses rather than ripping them out, as with scarifying.
Outside the greenhouse, in the triage area, pots queue up for their Vine Weevil treatment before being allowed in for the winter, we do not want weevil in this house, see blog 11th November Vine Weevil.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

A Third Of A Tonne

Last year our apple picking managed to produce 360 bottles and in the blog entry dated 13th October, Juicing, I gave an explanation behind the process, well this year I have photos!
The team picked 16 trays of apples, cookers and eating, as well as 2 trays of pears.
These trays were taken to Waterperry and tipped into a large crate, total weight a third of a tonne. Chris, the apple expert at Waterperry, labels the crate so there is no mix up with any other fruit.

The next step, these aren't our apples by the way, is to feed them into the juicing machine where they are chopped up into a pulp, under Graham's watchful eye.

Once all the fruit has been chopped and the large container at the bottom of the feed if full the pulp is taken to the juice squeezer.

The pulp is placed into several square frames, each wrapped in a cloth making a cheese. Nine cheeses are placed in a cheese stack and then pressed at a pressure of 380 bars.

The intense high pressure then squeezes all the juice out down a tube into a vat until every last drop is captured. The cheese are then unwrapped and the waste placed into a box which is then fed to the pigs and pheasants of Oxfordshire.

The juice is then moved to the pasteurising room where vitamin c is added, allowed to settle , then bottled in to heat sterilised bottles. We are now waiting for the return of our juice for the labelling process to begin.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Apple Picking 2010

The trees have produced a good crop of apples again this year and they are now ready for harvesting and, after the great success of last years trial run, will be used to produce Worcester College Apple Juice.

By the end of the day a dozen trays of apples have been picked by the team and are stored in the greenhouse overnight ready for transportation to Waterperry tomorrow.

Friday, 8 October 2010

The Change Begins

The night temperatures are dropping and the leaves are falling, it is time to start bringing in all the tender plants in to the greenhouse for their protection over the winter. Ali starts with emptying the pots in the Linbury Building and the urns by the herbaceous border, keeping some as new stock plants and the rest go to the compost pile.

Down at No 17, Joe scatters an autumn feed over the newly levelled soil, followed by grass seed which he then lightly rakes into the soil, grass within two weeks apparently.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Levelling off

Ali, Joe, Ady and Graham spent the day continuing to transform the back garden in No 17. Whilst Joe and Ali built a very rustic stone wall at the bottom of the garden, Ady and Graham continued to clear all the rubble from the garden.

Once the wall was finished, all four joined together to move the soil, moving it from the highest side over to the low side until, eventually, the garden was level. It is now ready for the grass seed to be added for the lawn.