Friday, 27 May 2011

Dennis' Revenge

Joss' mower, Dennis, is to be semi retired soon and replaced by a new Allett cylinder mower. I was walking across the Nuffield Lawn earlier today when I came across Dennis and it looked like he had mown over Joss, all that was left was his gloves sticking out from beneath the large roller.
It looked like Dennis had has his revenge until Joss appeared from the otherside of the lawn.

Inspired By Chelsea

Kieron and Simon spent yesterday at the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Inspired by Golds and Silver Guilts Simon spent the day creating floral masterpieces.

He used plants with different texture, colour, shape, height and form to create four pots all inspired by his visit to Chelsea.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Fun Starts

This is when the fun starts. After months of growing on the cuttings taken last September, nurturing the young plants raised from seed and protecting our stock plants, it's time to play. Starting with the containers in the Provost Yard, Ali, Joe and Simon have spent the last two days playing with colours, texture and form, hopefully creating floral masterpieces for this years summer display.

A Special Mix

The bedding out continues at pace and for the second day our potting compost needs to be mixed on a large scale. Yesterday Ali and Joe mixed a truck load, but today its Graham's turn to stand in the truck a stir! The recipe: A third of a truck of home made leaf mould, a third of bagged multipurpose compost and a scattering of Growmore. The last third not used as the truck would be too heavy to move, now to fill more pots ready for planting.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

A Fox, A Monjack and Three Fox Cubs

No photos for this amazing encounter, but the memories will always be there. Whilst walking through the Provost's Garden something caught Ady and Graham's attention, a fox, three fox cubs and the Monkjack deer. Graham went to get Ali, then the three of them spent the next ten minutes watching them. Two cubs were playing together and the monkjack deer, which seems to be part of the family, licked the third cub whilst it lay on the ground, its mother sitting right beside it!


Hoping the risk of frost has now passed, Simon, Ali and Joe started to plant out this years summer floral display. They dug out the tired winter plants, the violas taken to the compost heap and the architectural plants planted out in the Fellow's Garden.
A slight mishap occurred whilst in the Fellow's Garden, Simon, not wearing his gloves, caught a finger on a sharp object in the soil and the blood started to flow. A quick trip to the college nurse and a nearby doctor's surgery, he returned with his finger bandaged and then tried to put a glove on.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Taking The Wrapping Off

It's the last week in May so it must be time to unwrap our hardy banana, Musa basjoo. Unlike previous years, it has not started to burst out of its fleece wrapping, so did it survive our very cold winter?

Ady and Ali carefully unwrapped it and found signs of life, although one of the stems had died.
Once a stem flowers, see blog entry 15th September 2010 'Banana Flower', it dies but there are two new stems to replace it.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Three Happy Chippers

Over the last few months the chipping pile has grown rather large following a number of garden clearance jobs, the removal of the Privet hedge and the old section of the Yew hedge.
Ady, Joe and Simon spent the morning feeding the chipping machine until the pile was cleared, three happy chippers.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Blank Canvas

It's that time of year again when the winter bedding needs to be removed and the beds and tubs need to be prepared for summer planting.
Ali and Graham spent the day working on the tropical corner bed, first removing the tired Viola and Wallflowers. The Abu Hassan tulips were then lifted, allowed to dry out over the next few weeks ready to be reused somewhere else in the garden next year. The weeds were then removed, the border forked through, levelled and Growmore added.
The blank canvas is now ready for some more inspired planting this year.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Viburnum Beetle

According to the Royal Horticultural Society the number one problem on the 2010 garden pests list is the Viburnum Beetle.
In April-May the grub of the Viburnum Beetle, (Pyrrhalta viburni), emerges and starts to feed on the foliage. These hungry grubs can cause severe defoliation especially on its preferred host Viburnum opulus, also known as guelder rose or snowball bush. As you walk around the grounds the defoliation has started and by the end of June will reduce the foliage to lacework, leaving only the midrib and larger veins.


In a shady corner on the left side of the path to the Linbury Building, there once stood a large overgrown group of Mahonia x media. Having received a visit from Ali (nick name 'Radical Ali' when it comes to pruning), the Mahonia have now been reduced significantly in size, although Simon did feel she had been rather 'restrained' on this occasion. There is a horticultural term to this type of pruning, Stooling, to cut back a plant to or near ground level to induce new growth.

Mahonia tend to get leggy and are best stooled after the flowers have faded. Large plants can be stooled to about 45cm and will regenerate well from this form of pruning, producing new growth and, hopefully, be a better shape in future.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

A Weed and Mulch

Sunshine and a sprinkling of water from the sprinkler hoses have created the perfect conditions for weeds to grow. Yesterday Ady, Simon and Joe spent the day weeding the Provost's Rose Garden, joined by Graham later in the day.

Today they were joined by Ali and Kieron. Ali removed all the weeds that had grown in between the slabs whilst Kieron applied a mulch to all the yew columns. The garden is now clear of weeds and is ready for the stunning display due in the next month.

Oxford Blue and Poppy Red

A large garden requires alot of tools, but with two tool sheds they can all end up in one and none in the other! A few years ago, to correct this problem, the tools were split between the sheds and colour coded, Oxford Blue and Poppy Red.

Since then this division of tools has run efficiently, but recently a number of new tools have arrived and now need colour coding. Ali spent a few hours yesterday painting the first coat then applying the second today, once dry they will be placed in the appropiate sheds, the blue shed and the red shed.

Friday, 13 May 2011


The Snowman was spotted around the grounds this morning painting the lawns. You may think that he was painting the grass green, but you would be wrong, that's not how he gets the lawns so green! He is actually applying a selective herbicide, Spearhead, which controls broad-leaved weeds in turf and needs to applied carefully using a paint brush.

Down at the outside site garden, various members of the team have been working there since Monday, the two 1 tonne bags of stone have arrived. Shovelled into wheelbarrows and dustbins, the stone is transported through the house to the back garden and poured onto the borders, then levelled.

Swept tidy and all remaining rubbish removed, a new rejuvenated 'White' garden is left to be enjoyed.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Four Days

On Monday morning Ady and Joe started work on another overgrown garden in one of our outside sites. These pictures don't show you what greeted them as they stepped out through the back door, the patio could not be seen and it was so hidden they didn't even know there was one in the garden! A fifteen foot Ash tree seedling was hidden in a dark corner at the back of the garden, behind a ten foot Forsythia.

The Forsythia hedge was about ten foot tall, as high as the brick wall in the photo above. Joined by Simon and a student helper, Oscar, on Tuesday, they continued to bring the area back to order and resemble a garden again. Graham joined them on the third day, power washed the newly discovered patio and along with Kieron, started to add a wooden edge to the borders.

Today, day four, the last piece of edging was put in place. Ali and Simon added new pointing to the patio slabs, leaving just a delivery of stone, due tomorrow, for the finishing touch to the borders.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Border Work

Ali and Graham have spent the last two days weeding and adding more stakes to the herbaceous border. The 'Spanish Plume' weather front gave us a few scattered showers and, along with the sunshine, have helped, not only the plants to grow, but the weeds too.

Whilst Graham weeded and edged the border, Ali worked on the plant supports. A number of plants had outgrown their baskets and required additional support so new stakes had to be added.

Friday, 6 May 2011

A Large Delivery

Since September our stock of compost has gradually decreased. Hundreds of cuttings were taken and repotted once rooted, the repotting of all our tender plants brought in from the cold in October, the sowing of seeds, pricking out and their repotting all use a large quantity of compost.
One hundred 60 litre bags were delivered today and transported from the lorry by forklift to the nursery area.

Ady and Graham then moved the bags, using wheelbarrows and brute strength, into the compost storage area in the greenhouse. (Yes, that is an apple in Graham's mouth).

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Driest April Since Records Began

Those of you who work in the college or visit regularly will have noticed the team regularly carrying hoses and watering cans around the grounds. This sight would usually be seen during the warm, dry summer months, but not in April.
Central southern England has seen the driest April since records began in 1910, this follows a very dry March, hence the need for us setting up sprinklers, soaker hoses and the use of watering cans and hoses. Just 2.3mm of rain have been recorded, that's just 4% of the 52.6mm average for the month.
This dry, sunny weather may be good for the sun worshipers among you, but not for the gardeners, creating alot of extra work watering newly planted hedges and shrubs planted recently around the grounds.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Protection, Prevention and Produce

Due to the very cold temperatures seen during the winter, the crowns of the tree ferns were wrapped in fleece to provide some extra protection.

Now that signs of life have been seen within some of the the crowns, Ady and Graham spent today removing the fleece, cutting away the old fronds and giving them all a water.

Over in the orchard, now that the flower petals have started to drop from the fruit trees, it is time to protect the newly setting fruit buds from the Codling Moth.

Simon and Joe placed three Codling Moth traps in the orchard. These traps exude a pheromone similar to that of female codling moths in order to attract the males to the trap. The result is less males being available to mate with females, less eggs laid, fewer caterpillars, so far fewer damaged apples. (More clean, undamaged apples, so more Worcester College Apple and Pear Juice)

In the Tomato Glasshouse, Ali planted the 10 Harlequin tomato plants as well as the five cucumber and lettuce, all grown from seed.