Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Longest Hedge

It was a lot cooler this morning, so perfect for some more hedge cutting. The longest hedge, the box running along the nursery and orchard, needed its annual cut, this year by Kieron and Joe. Whilst they cut the hedge, Ady realigned the path, whilst Graham removed the diseased peach trees that were planted next to the wall and strimmed down the daffodil foliage around the fruit trees.
In the afternoon, joined by Ali, the team cleared up all the box cuttings and weeded the path, a good job for a much cooler day.
On a sad wildlife note, one of the last two Aylesbury ducks had to be buried this morning following an over night fox attack, the remaining duck cuts a very lonely figure, having been together for the last three years. Nature!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A Day Of Comings And Goings

Today would be day of mixed emotions, excitement and sadness.
Ady and Graham, who have been working in the shadiest part of the college for the last few days clearing the canal path, emerged from the shade into the sunshine to welcome our new ride on mower.
The excitement started when, along with Ali, Simon and Josh, they gathered by the Wolfsen Gate entrance to witness the arrival of our new Iseki diesel riding SBC400X SXG 15 mower, a replacement for our warn out John Deere mower.
After going through all the bits and pieces in the engine, how to start it, when to change the oil, when to service and how to adjust the height of the cutting deck, Graham got to use the mower and drive it to the machine shed. The sadness of the day came at the end, Lucy, our budding apprentice, has finished her three years of training and left us today. However, we will be meeting up in 48 hours for a drink and a send off.

Friday, 25 June 2010


I thought it was time for a little update of two projects completed over the last ten months. The first began back in August last year and, although finished soon after, has had the finishing touches added today, see blog 'A Busy Week'. The new chemical storage area finally had the last few items added to it, mainly a soap dispenser and paper towel dispenser put up on the wall.
The second project started back in March, 'First Day Of Spring' and involved the restoration of an old glasshouse to a fully functioning Tomato House.

The rubbish was cleared and now the team are benefiting from the fruits of their labour, the tomatoes are starting to ripen and the cucumbers plants are producing about seven cucumbers a week, and that is only at the start of the summer, we still have squash and peppers to come.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Outside Sites

As mentioned in other blog entries, the gardeners have not only the 26 acres of the college grounds to look after, apart from the sports ground, but other sites outside the college boundary. Over the last four days, these sites, The Franks Building, Earl Building, Canal Building and gardens of some college properties have been cleared and tidied by Ady, Graham, Josh and Joe. The team can now concentrate their efforts on the remaining 26 acres.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

One Short of a Dozen

It's ten minutes to one in the afternoon and the gardeners have, unusually, two things on their minds at this time, lunch and the England game in the World Cup Football. However, nature does not stop daily at one o'clock for lunch and an important event is beginning on the edge of the lake. A female Mallard starts calling from the water, the gardeners, Joe and Allison, turn their attention to the sound. A group of ducks also come to see what is happening and seem to form a ring at the edge of the water, where an old Chestnut tree's leaves touch the surface, but go no closer. A sound is heard from within the tree and one by one, sometimes two by two, Mallard ducklings jump out of the tree and into the water below. Five minutes later the commotion is over, eleven Mallard ducklings have made their entrance to the world of Worcester College.
According to various sources, the female Mallard starts to incubate the eggs once the last egg is laid. She rarely leaves the nest apart from taking short breaks to feed and after about 28 days the eggs hatch together, taking about 24 hours. The ducklings stay in the nest for at least 10 hours while they dry out and begin to use their legs, then the mother will lead them to water. On this occasion, the tree over hung the water and all that was needed was 11 brave jumps into the water to their mother and the welcoming committee below.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Making Things Smaller

A day of making things smaller, the wisteria on the back of the cottages and the Provost's box hedge.
Ali is given the task of cutting the hedge in the Provost's garden using a brand new pair of sharp hedge shears, a long piece of string and two bamboo canes. Once the string has been tied to the canes and placed along the length of the hedge the job can begin. At the end of a hot day the hedge is complete for another year.
At the rear of the 13th century cottages, behind the herbaceous border, are a number of wisteria in need of a reshape. The tops have grown further out than the lower sections creating a canopy of shade, therefore, reducing the number of flowers in these sections. Simon and Joe spent the day reducing the depth of the upper sections, hopefully, next year the wisteria will flower in an orderly fashion, creating a wonderful waterfall effect of blue flowers.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Melting and Wilting

It's mid June so it must be time to start cutting the college hedges again. Simon and Kieron kick the season off by cutting the Privet hedge that runs along the edge of the bottom orchard, one down, half a dozen left to go, and they are not small either.
The weather may be warm out, but the snowmen, Ady and Graham were out and about in their white chemical suits, spraying the weeds around the college, they aren't made of snow, but they were definitely melting when they got back at lunch time!
Another member of the team wilting in the heat was Ali, she went to join the wilting roses in the Provost's Rose Garden and spent the afternoon dead heading, bringing the stunning display back to life.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Preperation, Pruning and Power Washing

The team have been busy preparing for the arrival of our annual visitors to the college, Georgia Tech from the USA, who are due to arrive the weekend of the 26th June. The students come to Worcester College as part of their Oxford Study Abroad Programme and will be staying with us for six weeks.
As well as the college campus, some of the outside sites will also be used, so we have been busy tidying these gardens, Ady and Graham put on their waterproof clothing and spent the day power washing all the patio's, whilst Joe, Ali and Lucy pruned overgrown shrubs and trees, cleared out of control ivy from walls and rubbish from the gardens.

Friday, 11 June 2010

We Can Fix It

A broken stone has been spoiling the view from the top terrace for a long time, so now it has been fixed. Ady and Simon dug the old broken stone out, but had to dig out a few more as the job got bigger than expected. Old lines had to be straightened and levelled, but finally, the breathtaking view, over looking the front quad, has been restored.
Continuing on the wildlife thread from the previous post, Ali rescued another feathered friend, this time a fledgling Wren. Students spotted the young bird being used as a cat toy and managed to catch it before its demise, contacting Ali, who rushed it to Tiggywinkles Wildlife Rescue Centre, I think they are starting to recognise her due to the number of her recent visits.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

All Shapes and Sizes

The last of the summer display pots have now been completed, Ady and Graham cleared out all the tired winter plants, refreshed the compost and added the plants that will create a colourful display in the Linbury Building courtyard area. Simon, Ali, Lucy and Joe have created the display in the Provost's Yard and, today, Ali finished the last display pot outside the Provost's front door.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Half Full or Half Empty?

Is the greenhouse half full or half empty? The large architectural plants have been moved out and found homes within the herbaceous border. All that is left are the remainder of this years seedlings, now young healthy plants and our stock plants, from which we take cuttings, these will be moved out in the next few weeks.
Around the college grounds the birds are working hard to feed their young, the Canada Geese have emerged from the safety of the island with six goslings and the Kingfisher pair have been spotted with their fledgling.
On a slightly different note, Ali had her hand, arm, shoulder, head and neck up a very sooty chimney breast to rescue a pigeon that had fallen down it, she emerged with the lucky bird, both were rather black in colour by the end of the experience.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Just What He Ordered

It rained heavily overnight and all the fertilizer was washed in, Josh got what he wished for, now can we have the sun back until you next need it.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Feeding Time

Josh has to carefully plan when to add fertilizer to the college lawns and has been waiting weeks for rain to be forecast. Today is the right day, all the weather websites and broadcast media have predicted rain over night, so it is out with the spreader and the Spring/Summer fertilizer applied. Now he waits, he has been known to do a rain dance to bring on the required precipitation.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

Today the temperature in the glasshouse reached a stifling 120 degrees Fahrenheit, 50 degrees Centigrade. It is not just the gardeners that needed to find a place to cool down, but the young plants have also been suffering in the heat, so it was decided that today would be a planting day, filling in gaps in the herbaceous border. It may feel hot outside, but for the plants, it is a lot cooler than being in the glasshouse.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Change Of Direction

Today Josh has changed the direction he mows the front quadrangle lawn. No longer up and down or side to side, he has gone diagonal, corner to corner. He starts by placing a piece of string across the lawn, from one corner to the opposite corner, using this as a guide for the first stripe, then continues to mow diagonally. As always, the lines are straight and the lawn looks superb with these new diagonal stripes, I wonder if we shall see circles again this year, as we have in the past.