Friday, 30 April 2010

May Day

With May Day only a day away it seems only right that the blossom is out at its best. This flowering cherry is in the Provost's garden and is absolutely stunning at the moment, but if the forecast is correct for the bank holiday weekend, it may well get soaked with heavy rain and then blown off in strong winds.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Tidying Up The Borders

The plants and the grass in the gardens may be growing at fast pace due to the recent spell of hot weather, but this also means that the weeds are growing at a tremendous rate too.
For the last two days the team have have been divided between weeding duties and mowing. Josh and Joe have been mowing the college lawns, whilst Ali and Lucy have been weeding the herbaceous border.

Graham and Ady have been focused on other borders, Ruskin Lane, Serpentine and Gloucester House. The borders are now weed free, but for how long?

Friday, 23 April 2010

Get The Water On!

Where are all the April showers? We have seen no rain since the Easter break and the college ground are very dry, everywhere is in need of some water. April is meant to be a wet month and there is little sign of our infamous April showers, so get the water on!
The hose pipes have been brought out of storage and the leaky hoses checked for leak's, of which were found to be full of holes, oh, they're supposed to be full of tiny holes. Anyway, they were found to have seven extra large holes which needed to be repaired.
Josh and Graham have been watering the lawns, which are drying out fast and the rest of the team are watering the 44 display pots and connecting up the the leaky hose irrigation system, with Ali constantly checking on the seedlings and plants in a very warm glasshouse.
Apparently, this warm April weather is being caused by a blocked area of high pressure over the north Atlantic, the same weather pattern that sent us the cloud of volcanic ash.
The first three weeks of the month the UK has had just half the average rainfall for April, so the team will continue to get the water on!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

3 Years On

Three years ago the gardening team completed a six month project renovating the Provost's Rose Garden, see photo above. The old garden had become tired and high maintenance, so was completely cleared in order to start again with a blank canvas. Three years ago the new lawn had just been laid, Yew columns, perennials and roses just planted.
For the last two days, the team have been in the rose garden again, but only to keep the grass mown and edged, the borders weed free and to lift any perennials that have grown too big over the last three years. As can be seen by the photo below, the garden has matured extremely well.

Monday, 19 April 2010


Last November the team planted approxiametly 400 tulip bulbs around the college grounds, in pots and the borders. Well, now every day over the next few weeks, we will get to see the results of all that hard work. On the herbaceous border, a rainbow of colour has appeared, red, orange and white. The red tulip, 'Pieter de leur', is a vivid red tulip with pointed petals, flowering April/May.

In the area the team call the Tropical Bed, due to its summer display, you will find a border full of the tulip 'Passionale', a beautiful, robust plant with large blooms of purple. The wallflowers are just about to open and will provide, we hope, a stunning contrast.

In the urns, in the middle of the herbaceous border, the tulip 'Spring Green' is flowering, a fresh green colour, with a broad white edge at their tips. This tulip can also be found in the front quad borders in front of the cottages, brightening up this shady area.

Another wonderful, scented tulip, found next to Pieter de leur, is the striking, pointed tip, tangerine orange tulip, 'Ballerina'. We fell in love with this tulip last year, when displayed in the tropical bed, so could not resist using it again this year. We already have plans for next year with even more wonderfully coloured tulips to enhance our display.

Friday, 16 April 2010

An Unusual End To The Week

For Ali the day started where yesterday ended, in the glasshouse pricking out the seedlings, this time joined by Joe. Some of the seeds sown on the 26th March, blog entry 'Seed Sowing' are now ready to be pricked out in to their 9 centimetre pots, and as more and more germinate at different speeds the pricking out will continue over the coming weeks.

Whilst Ali and Joe spent their day amongst the seedlings, Josh, Graham and Ady spent their day in the Provost's Garden spraying the weeds, that have emerged in recent weeks, with weedkiller before they too set seed and germinate in their thousands.
The day, however, finished unusually for Ali with a visit to the Little Foxes wildlife rescue centre. An injured Mallard had been found by a student in the college grounds, in need of some assistance, stunned and bleeding from an unknown source. Following a short car journey to the rescue centre, a bit of TLC from Penny Little, the founder of the charity, and an injection of antibiotics, the duck has now started to make a recovery.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Three P's

Today our activities were focused in and around the glasshouse area, painting, potting up and pricking out, the 3 P's. The newly cleared out glasshouse, ready for a coat of paint, received due care and attention from Joe, helped later on in the day by Ady. Two coats of Dulux Ecosure Brilliant White paint and the renovation is almost complete, only Coolglass left to be painted on the glass, to be applied at a later date.

Outside Graham hosed off all the cold frame lids removing all the dirt and grime that had built up during winter storage.

Ady, before his stint with the paint brush, helped to fill up the cold frames with all the newly potted up plants, now being moved out of the hot glasshouses to harden off, toughening them up for the extremes of the British summer ahead.

Inside the glasshouse, Simon and Ali finished potting all the remaining cuttings passing them to Ady for storage in the cold frames.
You may have noticed that the third P, pricking out, has not been mentioned, well Simon and Ali got so carried away in the glasshouse that we ran out of time. The third P will now happen tomorrow.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


Last year we made a new compost bay at the bottom of the orchard, as we were running out of room for our grass cuttings, see blog 'Compost'. Well, at the end of last years grass cutting season, we realised it wasn't big enough, so today an extension was built. Graham, our expert cement mixer, using 12 parts sand to 2 parts cement, set about making the best mix for our new bay. With the help of Ady, they have built us a new extension to our bay, so we are now ready for the this year's grass cutting season.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Splish, Splash

With the digging completed in the greenhouse on the 31st March, the team have moved on to preparing the brick walls ready for painting. Before this could start, the soil was moved away from the wall, a wire brush was then used to rub down all the brick work to remove any moss and then allowed to dry. A base coat of PVA, Polyvinyl Acetate, was then applied by Joe, in order to seal and protect the bricks as well as creating a cohesive surface for the white paint to be added later. Lucy then added a second coat of PVA and we now waiting for this to dry so we can apply the top coat of white paint.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Potting Up

Greenhouse day today for Ali and Joe, potting up some of the cuttings taken in September. The warm weather is causing the cuttings, now young plants, to dry out very quickly, so it is time to move them into the next sized pot. The roots, restricted in the smaller pots, will be able to stretch out in the new pots and each plant will be moved out of the warm greenhouse in to a cooler one, they still have another six to eight weeks before they will be planted outside.

The seeds have germinated well and have been moved off the under heated unit and will be pricked out in to individual pots shortly.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Spring Has Sprung

The day time temperatures have soared and the garden is being filled with more and more colours as the trees, shrubs and bulbs react to the warmer days. According to experts, the chill that has delayed spring will bring the best magnolia displays in decades. As you walk from the front quad, through the first arch and out on to the Nuffield Lawn, I think the experts are going to right.

You are met by an amazing spectacle of Magnolia 'Iolanthe' whose display is the best we have ever seen. Numerous large, cup shaped rose-pink flowers, larger than my hand, some in bloom and some waiting to bust open, a truly magnificent sight.

Another plants responding to the warmer days are the Epimedium, found in the front quadrangle, in front of the cottages or on the edge of the tree fern glade. Epimediums will thrive happily in the deepest of shade, flowering in the spring, but in the winter will provide with wonderful burnished leaves.

The gardens are changing on a daily basis, so come and have a walk round or you may miss something spectacular. The sunny weather is holding so spring has well on truly arrived, the gardening team have removed two layers and are starting to warm up nicely.

The cherry tree on the Nuffield Lawn is also looking the best it has been for a number of years, the gentle winds are tempting the blossom to fall, so be quick, it's a must see.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Basket Making

The first task for the team upon their return from the Easter break was to mow the banks, Nuffield and Provost's lawn, and water the plants in the greenhouse. The remainder of the day was then spent on the herbaceous border creating the Birch baskets and wigwams that will support all the medium to large plants in this years display.

The frames give a new sculptured look to the border adding to the new fresh growth of the perennials, a rather sculptured look. If you look at each basket carefully different shapes begin to appear, we have seen Elephants, Camels and even The Leaning Tower of Pisa!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Wild Boar

We are so lucky to be working in such wonderful surroundings as Worcester College. Over the last year we have had such amazing encounters with British wildlife; Ady and Graham face to face with a fox, regular sightings of Sparrowhawks, Kingfishers and Gold Crests, but today has been the best of all, Wild Boar. Seen by Simon on his walk to work, a mother and her piglets, a sight never to be forgotten, four wild boar on the 1st April 2010!

April Fools, even gardeners have a sense of humour.