Monday, 31 October 2011

A Very Warm October

Britain has enjoyed the warmest October for five years and the 7th warmest since records began. These warm temperatures make for very pleasant conditions to collect the leaves that are falling at an alarming rate around the college. Mondays will, for the foreseeable future, be leafing days.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Old Edge Removed

The new stone edge is now in place and the cement has set. Kieron spent the morning removing the old edge with the help of a pick axe and shovel. Once all the old stone and cement had been removed he then moved some of the soil into the front of the border, leaf mould will be added next week.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Whilst The Cement Drys

The last of the stone edge was laid in place today and the cement allowed to dry before any further work is done on the border.
Elsewhere in the gardens, Graham and Ali with the blowers on their backs, spent the morning blowing out the leaves from the ditch around the sportsfield. Simon and Ady spent this time chopping up some of the seasoned wood from the wood store into firewood logs.
In the afternoon, Graham and Joss mowed the banks, carefully guiding the Flymo around the bare patches of soil so as not to suck up the grass seed before it germinates.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A New Stone Edge

At the start of the day Callum and Graham laid the new stone out along the path to make sure we had enough before Simon and Kieron begin to cement them in place.
Graham then spent the day mixing the cement providing a steady supply for the two stone layers.

By the end of the day, dispite a few rain showers, the entire front edge had been completed leaving the corner to be finished tomorrow.

Whilst the new stone edging was being laid, Ali spent the time in the greenhouse potting up the 29 pots of cuttings that had been taken out of the mist unit last week. Acclimatised to their new conditions, these young plants are ready to be placed into their own pots allowing them room to grow. Early next year they will be potted up again into larger pots before being used in next summers display.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Ladders, Scissors, a Ball of String and Fleece

With frost forecast, the only banana left out in the grounds, Musa basjoo, needs wrapping up for the winter. This year, Ali and Callum have a go at wrapping this hardy banana whilst the rest of the team concentrate their efforts on making the front quad border deeper.
Ladders, scissors, a ball of string and a rather large roll of insulating garden fleece are taken over to the banana and an hour later, after managing not to wrap themselves up in it, the wrapping is complete for another year.

Making It Deeper

The border at the bottom of the quad is undergoing a face lift. First the plants that have provided the summer display are ripped out, some go into the greenhouse as the stock plants, the remainder to the compost heap. Next, some of the old shrubs are dug out and replanted elsewhere in other areas of the college.

Once the border is cleared out of these plants, work starts on the path. A guide line is put in place, 18 inches in front of the old stone edging, the path is broken up, taken away and used to make a new path by the compost heaps.

By the end of the day three quarters of the path has been removed, the team will return tomorrow to continue the project.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Waiting For Colour

The overnight temperatures have started to drop so the team continue to dig up the tender plants from the college summer displays and move them into the greenhouse for winter storage.
Having cleared the plants from The Pump Quad yesterday, Ali and Kieron turn their attentions to the display in The Provost's Yard. Fuchsia, Banana, Ferns, Aeonium, Pelargonium, Begonia and Abutilon are just some of the plants that have helped create the displays in the oak pots, now all that is left are the architectural plants, Eucalyptus, Liquid Amber, Holly, Box and Tree Ferns, waiting for the winter plants to join them.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Colours Of Halloween

With the tropical bed having been ripped out and prepared last week, 5th October blog entry 'All Out', today saw it being planted up for its winter display.

This years colour scheme is orange and black, the colours of Halloween. The Cornus and Photinia used in last years display, that have been heeled in elsewhere in the college ready for their re use in this years display, are dug up and re planted in their new positions. The Violas 'Sorbet Mixed Halloween' are planted in the front half of the border, with the Wallflower 'Orange Sunset' planted in the back half. In amongst all the plants the Tulips 'Ballerina' and 'Burgandy' are planted, by May expect a crescendo of colour.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Sportsfield Path

The canal path has been tidied, see blog entry 14th September 'After Five Weeks', so now it is time to work on the sportsfield path. Chainsaws, strimmers, loppers, saws, rakes and leaf blowers are all used to clear the path ready for the start of the new term and, hopefully, a successful season for the college rugby and football teams.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Brown Patches

Three years ago the banks in the front quadrangle were returfed with a Crested Hairgrass, Koeleria macrantha. A dense turf, it was chosen for its slow growth rate, drought tolerance and low nutrient requirement, making it ideal for the banks.
Since being laid, patches of a different, light green grass have become more visible and have been steadily increasing in size, resulting in the need for them to be removed. Joss spent the day carefully raking out the unwanted grass, filling the gaps with soil and reseeding. Hopefully with the warm weather and the dewy mornings, it wont be long before the seed germinates and the banks are all green again.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

All Out

Following a week of unseasonably high temperatures, the cooler autumn weather has arrived giving the team a dilemma, when do we start bringing the large tender plants in? Better to be safe than sorry, we decide that today is that day, two and a half weeks earlier than last year. The whole year has been running two to three weeks earlier than 2010, ever since the hot April temperatures.

The first problem is to cut down the Tetrapanax papyrifer, handling the plants can cause irritation to your skin and breathing problems when the furry particles from the giant leaves are disturbed. Having itched, coughed and spluttered on previous occasions, the team wear masks as a precaution.

Once these plants have been removed and the dust settled the team move in to clear all the remaining plants. The loaded trailer is taken over to the greenhouse where the plants are potted up and safely stored for the winter.

The giant banana plants are taken over to the greenhouse with the help of the tractor grab, some have had their heads cut of in order to fit inside, but have already grown a centimeter by the time they arrive, see blog entry '2 Inches' 15th October 2010.

By the end of the day all the plants are inside and potted up, the border has been weeded, levelled and will have leaf mould added tomorrow in preparation for its winter display. This border was planted up by the 9th June, see blog entries 'The Last Piece' and 'The New Border (The Fallen Tree Border)', four months of tropical magic is now enjoying the warmth of the greenhouse until next year.