Thursday, 31 March 2011

Goldfish Bowl

As with The Broadwalk, the weeds have started to show themselves, invigorated by the sun and the rain we have had in Oxford over the last week. Today's area for weeding was The Casson Building also known as The Goldfish Bowl.Whilst Ady and Graham fork through the borders, weeding and edging, Ali and Joe create some more birch basket masterpieces to support the Euphorbia schillingii that likes to flop about when not supported.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Empty Space

On Monday, Ali and Graham started to plant out a number of plants that had been languishing in the coldframes for years. Once homes had been found for them in various places around the college gardens, Graham then spent Tuesday weeding all the empty frames, sweeping out all the debris and moving the small amount of plants left into one frame.
Over in the orchard the top layer of Tarmac was laid to finish the path that runs from the Ruskin Building. All that remains is for the new Yew hedge to be planted once the young plants arrive in the next few weeks.
Today, Wednesday, the team focused their attention on The Broadwalk. In amongst the beautiful Hellebores, weeds have started to appear at an alarming rate, so armed with trowels and border forks, they carefully worked their way along the border removing them before they start to set seed.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Prunus incisa 'Kojonomai'

A tree that has been sat in its pot in the coldframe for a number of years now has a permanent home in the college gardens.

Prunus incisa 'Kojonamai', common name The Fuji Cherry, has been planted in the Nuffield Lawn towards the Linbury Building. This new tree is slow growing, taking between 20-25 years to reach maturity, a maximum height and spread of 2.5 metres. Flowering in late winter/early spring, producing pale pink flowers followed by dark purple fruits in the autumn.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Cobbles, Shingle and Blocks

The lights in the borders at the front of The Ruskin Building were installed too low and are continually being covered in soil during watering and rainfall. Using cobbles, shingle and blocks, Ady, Joe and Tracy have been building new protective surrounds to keep them clear, problem solved.

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine, Ranunculus ficaria, is a native perennial wild flower, a member of the Buttercup family. Its yellow flowers appear from February to May, but unfortunately it have become a problem in two of our borders, becoming rather invasive.
Using forks and trowels, sometimes on their hands and knees, Ali and Graham have spent numerous hours trying to remove this small plant. The borders may look clear now, but this plant spreads by leaving tiny tubers deep in the soil which break off when being lifted, they will be back next year.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Border Preparation

As well as making the basket plant supports, the herbaceous border needs to be prepared for the summer display.

Having been repeatedly trampled on over the last few weeks during the laying of the porous hose and making the plant the supports, a granular fertilizer has been added. We use Growmore, a general purpose, granular fertilizer, which will promote strong, healthy growth and now needs to be forked in.

Ady, Graham, Joe and Kieron have spent the last few days forking it in, removing weeds as they go, treading very carefully to avoid the newly emerging tulips.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Basket Weaving

As the perennials start to push their way through the soil in the herbaceous border, it is that time of the year again to make the baskets that will support them through their summer display.
The main baskets are constructed out of Birch, a very flexible material, making it perfect for basket weaving. The taller plants will be supported by bamboo cane structures.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Privet Hedge

The Privet hedge that divides the orchard has been slowly dying due to Honey Fungus. Unfortunately, Privet is very susceptible to this fungus, so the decision has been made to dig it out and replace with the more resistant Yew, Taxus baccata . The tarmac path is also being widened so it seemed appropriate to remove the hedge at the same time.

The top of the hedge is cut off using a chain saw and chipped immediately. The tractor with the grap attachment is then brought in to rip out all the Privet root balls.

Once the hedge roots have been ripped out, the area is then forked through removing all the remaining debris. All the chipped material, root balls and debris is taken away to be burned and, over the coming weeks, we will dig in organic matter in preparation for our new Yew hedge.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Thank You LMH

As the snowdrops have started to go over and their delicate white flowers fade, it is time to start moving them from other parts of the gardens to beneath the trees on The Nuffield Lawn.
The best time to move snowdrops is whilst they are 'in the green', so Ali and Graham spent the day moving and planting.
Ben, the Head Gardener of Lady Margaret Hall (LMH), University of Oxford, very kindly gave us three large bags of snowdrops which were also planted.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Over the Wall

Having completed the fencing in the outside site garden a few weeks ago, some of the team returned to add organic matter i.e. leaf mould, to the border. As there is no rear access, the leaf mould had to be thrown over the wall, in a controlled manner.

From a loaded trailer, Ali, Graham, Simon and Tracy formed a human chain to transfer the leaf mould, filling up trugs and pouring the contents over the wall.

Tracy and Ali dug the border using the single digging method, the digging of trenches to a spade depth known as a 'spit'.
The first trench's soil is removed and placed to one side, the trench is then filled with organic matter. Working backwards along the plot, each trenches soil is placed on top of the one in front. After the last trench is filled, the soil that was placed to one side is used to cover it. The border is then levelled, air removed by treading down, and a final levelling produces a border ready for planting.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Leaky Porous Pipe

It's arrived, 100 meters of leaky, porous pipe for the herbaceous border. The old pipe was removed last autumn having several larger holes in it than it should have following numerous attacks from forks and water expansion when frozen during previous winters.

Graham, Simon, Joe and Ali work together to unroll and lay it amongst the new perennial shoots, shrubs, snowdrops and the emerging tulips. Once in place the pipe is clipped to the soil using u- shaped wire pieces, however 100 meters of pipe was not enough to cover both borders and another 50 is required to finish the job. This leaky pipe irrigation system will allow the border to be watered during dry spells allowing water to reach the roots where it is needed.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Longer Than Expected

After three full days The Secret Garden's restoration is almost complete. This once misshapen rose now has a new framework and wires to support it.

The borders have been weeded, forked over and realigned, shrubs pruned and leaves collected. Ivy has been cut back, removed from walls and patio stones rediscovered.

Ady returns to put the finishing touches to the garden this morning, mowing the lawn and removing the last of the weeds.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Secret Garden

Graham, Ady, Joe and Ali spent the day working in, what the gardeners call, The Secret Garden. Hidden at the top of some old steps, locked behind an old wrought iron gate, the garden is unseen by visitors and is now in need of some serious attention.

Ali is tasked with rejuvenating an old rose, creating a new framework, whilst the guys work on the restoration of the borders. By the end of the day they realise it will take more than a day to bring this garden back to life, they will need to come back tomorrow.

A 4 Year Wait

During my first winter working in the gardens of Worcester College, I was lucky enough to witness our Strelitzia reginae 'Bird Of Paradise' flowering in the warmth of the heated greenhouse where it spends the winter months. Well, that was four years ago and every winter since, it has been brought in from the cold and kept warm, but no flower has been seen, until now.
Last November it sent up a flower spike and has been slowly opening ever since. When I opened the greenhouse this morning I was greeted to such a beautiful, welcoming sight, a flower resembling a exotic bird had emerged over the weekend. My hope is that I don't have to wait another four years to see this stunning sight in the greenhouse again.