Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Wonderful Wisteria

Last year, when writing about the Wisteria in the gardens, I mentioned that "the harsh winter had had its rewards, for the floral splendour around the college is the best for many a year". Well, following the very harsh winter, this years display has bettered last years. The extreme cold temperatures followed by this period of warm weather has not only resulted in a stunning display, but, as with the tulips, is 3-4 weeks earlier. (Last year these scenes were not seen until 21st May, see blog entry 'Rosa banksiae and Wisteria')

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Tree Peony

In the herbaceous border is a rare sight in the college gardens, our tree peony is in flower! Having asked all the other gardeners, all of whom have been working in the college gardens longer than me, "have you ever seen it flower?", the answer was "not during the last ten years", a rare sight indeed.

The large, bowl shaped blooms are a beautiful, sugary pink, can anyone help us to identify it?

Break In

Over the four day Easter break the gardeners tea shed and large greenhouse were broken into. The window in the door was smashed so needed a new pane of glass, unfortunately the only piece of glass to hand was too short for the door, so adjustments had to be made to fit it in the hole.
Simon and Ady spent the morning making the adjustments, carefully measuring and fitting a extra wooden panel and a new pane of glass into the door.

In the afternoon Ady then finished the door repair off by painting it with a dark wood preserve.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Potting On

The seedlings have grown into good sized plug plants that now need potting on. Ali and Graham spent the morning potting the plugs into their own pots of multipurpose compost.

For the next three to four weeks they will stay in the warm greenhouse before being moved into the cold frames to be hardened off, ready for planting outside in the summer.

Where Did We Put It?

On the edge of the orchard is an old fruit tree that has died. Today a team from the University Parks came to remove this tree and grind out the root.

Once finished, where the tree once stood, a gap appeared in our newly planted hedge, enough for 1 Yew. Now you know where we put it, by design or accident!

Monday, 18 April 2011

The First New Arrivals

The first of our visiting geese have been spotted with three goslings. This year the Greylag geese have beaten the Canada geese in producing offspring, even before the resident Mallards and ducks.

19th April 2011: Today it was noticed that there are only two goslings and one adult.
21st April 2011: The feathers of the adult Greylag goose have been found, but the good news is we still have one adult and two goslings.
27th April 2011: The goose and the goslings have been joined by four adult geese. Not to be out done, a pair of Mallard now have 4 ducklings.
28th April 2011: Sadly, dispite safety in numbers, the goose has lost another gosling, now we have just one remaining.
3rd May 2011: The Greylag Geese have left, all the goslings have therefore been lost.
10th May 2011: A Moorhen pair have been seen with two chicks today.
16th May 2011: Canada Geese pair seen with three goslings.

Accident or By Design

Sometimes we achieve planting success by accident and sometimes by design. At the end of November the Tulips 'National Velvet' and 'China Pink' were planted in the Provost's Rose Garden in the hope that the colours, pink and deep crimson, would complement the young rose growth and mirror the summer colours of the roses. This has been very successful and the results were exactly as we had hoped.

Having planted up the Rose Garden we had a large number of tulips left over, where to put them? We decided that the orchard we be a good place for them, if not the only place for them, see blog 'Not Long Now'. Well, we couldn't have hoped for a better result, the apple blossom flowers is complemented so well with colours of the tulips.

So many members of the public, staff and students have stopped us whilst walking past this area to compliment us for such a "stunning", "absolutely gorgeous", "wonderful" use of tulips.
Sometimes we create perfection by accident and sometimes by design!

The Last Section

Last Monday the team planted the new Yew hedge that separates the orchard, but left an old piece of hedge in place. Having thought about it for a week it was decided to remove this piece and replace it with the remaining Yew from the original order of 100.

The lower branches were removed to allow better access to the trunks. One at a time, rope was then attached to the trunk and to the tractor grap which then pulled them out.

The old trees were taken to the chipping pile, and as with last week, a trench was then dug, leaf mould added, the young Yew planted and watered in.

99 young Yew have now been used to create this new hedge, 1 left, where are we going to use this?

Thursday, 14 April 2011


Stripes on the lawns, created by either a roller on the mower, as on the small lawns or by the wheels from the ride on mowers on the larger lawns.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


In November 2009 we started a project to introduce early colour in to the herbaceous border using Tulips. Last April we got to see the results of our first planting, red, orange and white, leaving two colours missing from our colour scheme, purple and pink. These colours were planted in November, see blog entry 'Project Tulip', and it is only now that we are getting to see all the colours filling the entire border.
The lily flowered, deep sugary pink tulip is China Pink and the single cup shaped, reddish purple tulip is Attila.

Over in the Tropical Bed, this years display theme was to provide hot colours for the winter and spring, red, yellow and orange. The final colour is provided by the tulip Abu Hassan, a goblet shaped, rich red flowered tulip with gold margins. This tulip brings all the other colours together, a sizzling, warm border.

Monday, 11 April 2011

70 Yew In One Day

The 100 Yew trees, Taxus baccata, arrived last week, so now it's time to plant them. Ali, Simon, Graham and Joe started by digging out a trench along the new path and half filling it with leaf mould.
The trees were then lined up along the trench, making sure they were positioned correctly and to make sure we had enough trees for the job. Splitting into two teams, each tree was planted and heeled in, gradually forming a new young hedge.
By the end of the day 70 Yews had been planted along the length of the path.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Last Of The Aylesbury Ducks

I have a very sad event to report, the last of our Aylesbury ducks has been eaten by a fox. Over the last few years the remaining ducks, from a group of six, have slowly been reduced in numbers until last year we were left with one. Unfortunately the remains of our last duck were found, rather strangely, on the roof of Simon's office. The video below shows the last Aylesbury duck in rather happier times, it can be seen at the front waiting for the bread to be thrown in.