Saturday, 28 August 2010

Coir Rolls

A week the bank restoration team did not want, heavy rain and and lots of it.
The clay has been moved to behind the right bank and now the next step is the addition of the coir rolls. The rolls, having been placed on top of the faggots, are made of processed coconut husk fibres that have been hydraulically pressed into coir net bags and tied. The coir is, not only, a completely biodegradable product but also qualifies as a recycled material. The rolls being used have come planted with fully established marginal plants and are an excellent means of establishing marginal vegetation around lake edges.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

What Do Gardeners Do In The Rain?

What do gardeners do in the rain? A question often asked, so here is what we got up to this morning. Joe, Kieron, Ali and Graham continued to paint the greenhouse staging with preservative and, once finshed, prepared the cold frame lids for painting on the next rainy day.

In the afternoon, the rain subsided and the team ventured out for more mowing and edging, the grass now growing at a rapid rate.

Ali, having gone out with the team to edge, went quickly back inside as the winter bedding plug plants arrived, Primula acaulis 'Primlet Sunrise'. Needing to be potted up, within the last hour of the day, quick fingers were needed for all 230 plugs to be placed into their new home over the next month.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Rain Stops Play

After two days of all things grass, every blade has been cut and edged within the college, Simon, Joe, Ali and Kieron move into the Provost's rose garden, it is time to cut the yew columns and the large hedge at the back. Ali and Kieron, once they have set up the string levels and lines to follow, cut the columns whilst Simon and Joe, using a tall ladder, cut back the large hedge.

The threat of rain has been hanging over the teams activities all morning and, as forecast, it arrives at midday, getting them wet as they rush to pack up.

The rain continues after lunch so all the team move indoors. Josh and Graham clean and tidy the tool sheds, Ali digs out the old cucumber and squash plants, tidying up the rest of the tomatoes and peppers.

Joe and Kieron move into the large greenhouse and start to paint the staging with preservative, ready for the plants that will soon return to the warm indoors in October.

Saturday, 21 August 2010


Since the weir was added to the lake some five to six years ago, the motion of the flowing water has been slowly eroding the banks causing them to wear down. The banks are now in need of restoration and a specialist team have been employed to do the job, which started on Monday.
The water level has been reduced and stakes driven into the bottom of the lake. A Terram liner membrane has be woven in amongst the stakes to which faggots have been placed inside, not the edible faggots but bundles of hazel, also known as faggots. Faggoting is an ancient technique and involves the use of bundles of hazel or willow bound together, commonly used in tidal estuaries where the usually heavy silt load ensures rapid deposition. The faggots, arranged to produce a mattress, will slow the flow of the water and trap silt and sediment building up the bank naturally, rather than the use of large engineered structures.

Forty tonnes of clay soil have been delivered and will be transported from the Wolfsen gate area to the weir, gradually added to behind the new bank. The project continues over the next few weeks, continued dry weather needed.

Friday, 20 August 2010


Ady and Kieron, with help from Simon in the morning, spent the day uncovering the machine and tool storage sheds that were starting to disappear under years of ivy growth. They managed to clear two of the three sheds, cutting off all the ivy from the roof and sides as well as behind each shed. Once cleared, they power washed off the moss and dirt ready for a new coat of preservative, the third and final shed will be uncovered tomorrow.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Garden Restoration

Another overgrown garden has been tackled by the team over the last three days. Ady and Graham started the job on Monday, greeted by a tangled mess of weeds burying what, was once, a low maintenance garden landscaped by the team a few years ago. Clearing a path into the garden was the priority so the other team members could join them, as they cleared signs of a gravelled garden gradually emerged.

Cutting and chopping their way through, they amassed a huge pile of rubbish that had to be thrown over the garden wall at the back of the garden. The next photo is of our two intrepid explorers, Graham and Ady, who successfully made their way through the wilderness.

Once the area had been cleared the paving stones were cemented into place and a new top dressing of gravel added, buckets, trugs and dust bins used to transport the gravel over the wall. The garden furniture was then washed down and returned to the rediscovered patio area.

The final job, to complete the restoration, was for Joe and Simon to repair the boundary wall, seen in the earlier photo of our intrepid explorers.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

A Dark Corner Of Oxford

Graham and Ali spent the day transforming a very small garden in a dark corner of one of the college properties. Once the area had been cleared of ivy, unwanted weeds and over grown shrubs cut down, Graham began transporting the gravel, from what felt the other side of Oxford, by wheelbarrow to the garden. Unable to wheel the gravel into the garden itself, he had to shovel it in to trugs and hand it to Ali over the wall, who then spread the shingle over the weed suppressing fabic she had placed over the soil. The light colour of the shingle has brightened up this garden in a dark corner of Oxford.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Finishing Touches

Ali and Ady started the day, again in the area of the sports field, finishing the Lake Side border. After the morning break, Joe joined Ady to strim down all the nettles and the tall growing weeds, now visible after all the shrubs had been cut back over the last few days. Ali moved into the greenhouse to finish pricking out the Wallflowers that will be part of the winter bedding display.

Kieron, Simon and Graham spent the day putting the finishing touches to the outside site garden the team started tidying a few weeks ago, clearing it up for the next occupant to enjoy. Now that the patio area has dried, following it's power washing two weeks ago, a number of loose slabs have been cemented back in to place and the borders gravelled over a layer of weed control fabric.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Lake Side Border

A drier day today allowed the team to continue on from yesterday's clearance around the sports field edge. Two more truck loads of chopped down material for Graham and Josh to feed through the chipper before they finished their chipping for the day.
Continuing on the cutting back theme, Ady and Ali moved down to the lake side border, which also runs along the sports field, cutting back the shrubs away from the path's edge. Joe joined them in the afternoon to help pick up all the rubbish they had created, woody material to the chipper, which had been shut down for the day, and hoed weeds to the skip.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Back Behind The Line

The team have spent the day working together to tidy up the many shrubs and trees that were hanging over the edge of the sports field. Ady, Ali, Joe and Simon spent the day chopping, sawing and cutting whilst Graham and Josh spent their time chipping the nine truck loads of chopped down material the others had produced. The weather was not kind to them as it drizzled most of the time and then soaked them as they neared the end of their day.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

It's All In The Preparation

The dry weather has returned today, a good day to sand down and paint the glasshouse doors. Ali spent the morning preparing the doors, rubbing them down, removing door handles and taping the glass surrounds. She paints the doors black, the same colour as the shed mentioned in blog entry 'A Busy Week' back on the 14th August 2009. The front door got two coats, the second by Joe, with the back door getting its second coat tomorrow, then the handles will be put back on and tapes removed.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


The weather forcast for the day was scattered showers, a perfect day to powerwash the glasshouse, inside and out. Joe and Ali get wet before the rain arrives and when it does, its washes off all the dirt and grime the power washing has dislodged. After they finished, they move on to washing all the staging with Jeyes Fluid, cleaning all the dirt and any fungal disease that may have built up over the last twelve months.Down at the bottom of the sports field, Ady, Graham and Josh spend the morning chipping, using the newly serviced chipper to clear the huge pile that has built up over the last three months. The rain arrived as the last few pieces of wood went through the machine, a downpour, soaking the three of them. Ali was happy though, it came at just the right time for her and the newly cleaned glasshouse.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Pump Quad

The Pump Quad, an important social space for the students, has been gradually losing its gravel over the last three years. Raked up a few stones at a time by the gardeners when removing leaves and everyday rubbish, and walked out on the bottom of trainers, the area has become rather bald in patches.

Ady, Josh and Graham fill up the truck with gravel from a recent delivery and bring it down to the nearest pathway to the quad. Using wheelbarrows, they ferry the gravel into the quad and empty it into piles for Ali to rake level.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Tomatoes 2010

The tomatoes in the tomato house are ripening rapidly producing a large crop of deliciously sweet, juicy fruit. This year we have grown Harbinger, Ruby, Sungella, Harlequin and Tumbling Tom.
Harbinger, a traditional English variety, medium sized fruit, a very good flavour.
Ruby,a high yield on very long trusses of sweet, succulent, current sized fruit.
Sungella, a huge yield of orange skinned, sweet, juicy, golf ball sized fruit.
Harlequin, our favourite from last year, long trusses of sweet, juicy, plum shaped fruit.
Tumbling Tom, a trailing tomato, cherry sized, juicy fruit.