Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A Very, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

After a very successful and productive year, the team are now having a well deserved rest to recharge their batteries to return on the 3rd of January 2012 for another gardening year.
Winning gold in the Oxford In Bloom for the 'Best Display for a College or University' in a year of the college ball was just one of the many highlights.
A big thank you to all those who have visited our gardens and for the many positive comments we received from you, we are truely grateful.
We thank all our readers for following us on our blog and look forward to your company in 2012.
Have a very, merry Christmas and a happy New year.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Getting A Head Start

With the warmish weather still with us, the team have started to prune the wisteria, campsis and roses in the front quadrangle along with completing the pruning of the grapevine in the Pump Quad.

The weather has enabled us to start the pruning of the climbers early, usually started on our return after the christmas break, see blog entry 10th January 2011 'First Day of Many', therefore enabling us to get a head start for 2012.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

New Team Photo

Slightly later than usual, here is the new photo of the Gardening and Grounds team.

Hedge Reinforcement

The hedge that runs along the canal has a few gaps in it and is in need of some reinforcement. Ali, Kieron, Graham and Callum spent the morning planting 94 40-60cm whips, young, bare rooted saplings, usually one year old. The variates planted were 'Crateagus monogyna', 'Ligustrum ovalifolium', Euonymus europaeus' and 'Corylus avellana'. (Hawthorn, Privet, Spindle and Common Hazel)

Monday, 12 December 2011

Feeding and Protecting

It may look like a giant oil slick on the Nuffield lawn and has prompted a number of questions as to why it has appeared, well there are reasons behind it.
Over the years the soil has gradually been eroded and compacted under the trees as we remove the autumn leaves through leaf blowing and the suction from the ride-on-mower. As the soil level has dropped some of the snowdrop bulbs have started to show and the removal of the leaves takes away the natural food source for the trees.
The team spent the day topping up the soil level with leaf mould which will feed the trees as the worms draw the leaves down and improve the soil for us, at the same time, protecting the bulbs.
As well as feeding the trees, the dark mulch will be the perfect back drop for the many hundreds of snowdrops that will appear in February, or maybe January if the warm weather continues.

Friday, 9 December 2011

A Little Extra

On Monday the oak pots in the Provost's yard were replanted, however, a few gaps were left until we bought a few more plants.
In one of the small pots we had planted a Cornus alba 'Kesselringii' which looked rather bare on its own. To this we have now added Hebe 'Mrs Winder', a compact plant with oblong dark green leaves, purplish shoots with brown purple midribs and Bergenia 'Overture', a clump forming perennial with fleshy, claret coloured leaves.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Working With Mother Nature

It may seem the wrong thing to do in very strong winds, but Ali and Callum spent the morning using the leaf blowers and forks to get the leaves out of the ditch.
Sometimes you have to work with Mother Nature, it is much easier than going against her. The trick was, when using the blowers, to wait for the wind to blow in the right direction, blow the leaves up out of the ditch and allow the wind to take the leaves to where they needed to end up.
Occasionally though, Mother Nature would play a trick on them and, at the last minute, switch the direction of the wind and blow them straight back at them, covering them in dirt and dry leaves.
Whilst Ali and Callum were playing with, or was it working with the leaves, Graham and Ady were planting 300 tulip bulbs in the newly enlarged bottom border. Mixing three varieties, Attila (Purple), Burgundy and China Pink, they planted them in groups, marking their location with canes for when the herbaceous plants are added to the border at a later date. Another stunning display is expected.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Rusty Bikes and a Shopping Trolley

Starting yesterday with the clearing up of leaves and the chipping of woody material in the Canal Building courtyard, the team returned today to complete the tidy up. Overgrown shrubs and a beech hedge needed to be trimmed as well as the removal of ivy, rusty bikes, piles of soil and stone, numerous Ash tree and Elder seedlings, moss and even a shopping trolley.
By the end of the day, following numerous trips to the skip with several tonne bags of rubbish, the clear up is complete and the courtyard is tidy once again.


An apology from this blogger.
It has been brought to my attention that I have, by mistake, turned off the means for you to make comments about our blog entries. This has now been rectified and you should now be able to comment on our activities. We do enjoy reading your comments and look forward to reading them in the future.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Oak Barrels Replanted

Way back in February 2009 the team took delivery of nine oak pots for the diplay in the Provost's Yard, see blog entry 'The Oak Pots'. Along with a number of specimen plants, a Eucalyptus coccifera ( Tasmanian Snow Gum) and Liquidamber styraciflua were planted in two of the pots.

Two and a half years later these two trees have grown too big for their pots and have had to be removed and replanted in the college grounds. The Eucalyptus is now in the herbaceous border and the Liquidamber in the lakeside border.

Now that these giant trees have been removed from the pots, smaller shrubs and trees have replaced them for a winter display.

The shrubs used to make this new display are:

Cornus stolonifera 'Flaviramea', a common Dogwood with bright yellow-green winter shoots;

Cornus alba 'Kesselringii', a red barked Dogwood with blackish purple winter shoots;

Cornus alba 'Elegantissima', a red barked Dogwood with red winter shoots;

Mahonia x media 'Winter Sun', with dark green, sharply toothed leaves and arching clusters of bright yellow, fragrant flowers;

Ilex aquifolium, the Common Holly with spiny leaves and red berries;

Ilex aquifolium 'J C van Tol', a Holly with almost spinless, ovate, glossy dark green leaves with bright red berries.

These new displays will remain in place until June when our summer display will replace them.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Sold Out

All 482 bottles of the Worcester College Apple and Pear juice have been sold. Thank you to everyone that has supported us again this year and bought the juice.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Mulching Moves On

The mulching moves on to the winter border following the completion of the broadwalk yesterday. The silver leaf margins of Euonymus fortunei 'Silver Queen'; the tiny, fragrant, creamy-white flowers of the Sarcococca confusa; the clusters of small, white flowers of the Fatsia japonica; and the large number of snowdrops will all be enhanced by the rich, black mulch background.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Let Sleeping Hedgehogs Lie

Last November was the coldest in 17 years, yet this year November will go down as one of the warmest on record. As with this time last year the borders in front of the cottages are cut down, but in the warmth rather than the bitterly cold, see blog entry for the 25th November 'Bitterly Cold'.

As Callum and Ali worked their way down the border they came across a small pile of leaves, raking them they found a sleeping hedgehog already hibernating for the winter. Carefully putting the leaves back, adding a few more for luck, they leave him to his hibernation. The border was then mulched, a perfect black background for the snowdrops that will emerge early next year.

Monday, 28 November 2011

I Will Not Be Moved

A palm that has been looking rather sad over the last year is 'Butia capitata'. Originating from South America, it should have long recurving, pinnate leaves that arch groundwards from a broad trunk. As can be seen from the photographs, this is not the case for our palm.

Although it does not look happy in its position in the Ruskin border, it refused to come out easily, putting up quite a resistance.

Simon, Ali and Callum spent an hour digging the palm out as it clung onto the soil with, what seemed, every fibre of its being.

Finally, exhausted, that's us not the palm, it came out and is now sitting in new compost, in a nice big pot, in a heated greenhouse. Why wouldn't want to come out?

Moving To The Other Side

Having cut down and mulched the herbaceous and Casson (Goldfish Bowl) borders last week, the team start on the other side of the college, The Ruskin Building.

With a conference going on in the building, the border had to be cut down using secateurs and not the noisy hedge trimmers. A very slow process, the area took all day to cut down and mulch, but another border is complete as we move towards the xmas shut down.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

White & Black

Back in November 2009, we started to plant tulips in the herbaceous border. That year we planted the red, orange and white followed by purple and pink in November 2010. Well, as we are always searching for perfection, we weren't happy with the white tulips. The idea was to see all the colours at the same time, but the white tulips had flowered and gone over before the other four colours. A decision was made to remove these white tulips back in May and replace them with a later flowering variety.

The new tulip is 'White Triumphator', a lily flowered, long stemmed, elegant, pure white tulip which flowers the same time as the other four; Pieter de Leur (red); Ballarina (Orange); Attila (Purple) and China Pink (Pink). We now have to wait until May to see if we have got it right this time.

Once all the white tulips had been planted it was time to mulch. Last years leaves, office shredded paper, grass cuttings and herbaceous cut down material have been regularly mixed in the compost bay and is now ready to be used.

By the end of the day a lovely dark black, crumbly material had been added to the border and the team was ready to move on to the next area.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Cut Down Continues

Continuing on from yesterday, the team return to the herbaceous border to cut it down. Using the hedge trimmers again the plants are cut down in record time.

One lucky amphibian to escape the blades was taken away to a safe place, is this the same frog that was found in 2009? See blog entry 'Wildlife' 19th November 2009.

Once the cutting down was completed, Simon and Callum rolled up the leaky hose pipe to prevent any ice damage, and damage caused by humans with forks.

Cleared of hose and weeds, Simon's notes made yesterday are referred to, some plants are dug up and either removed or lifted, split and replanted. Bulbs and mulching are the jobs for tomorrow.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Hedge Trimmer Or Secateurs?

Although the temperatures are still above average for this time of year, it is time to cut down the herbaceous border and prepare it for the winter, whenever it may arrive.

Whilst the team get the tools out for the day, Simon walks down the border making notes on what needs to be changed in order to improve it for next years display. Some perennials have got too big and need to be lifted, split up into smaller clumps and replanted whilst others need to be removed.

Once all notes have been made the team descend onto the border to cut it down. This year we are using a hedge trimmer for the first time, being careful not to hit the plant supports we made back in March, which is best, hedge trimmer or secateurs, we shall see?

By the end of the day a third of the border has been cut down and taken to the compost pile with the plant supports going to the chipping pile. The team will return tomorrow.