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.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Opening Up The View

The day was spent working in the orchard, the main objective, to open up the views looking out across the lake. Starting with the Walnut tree, now that it has entered its winter dormant period, the lower, obstructing branches were removed. The large roses along the path were also cut back and the Lime trees had all their epicormic growth removed.

Lime trees often produce prolific sprouting or epicormic growth from the base and, if caught early, can be removed by pulling them off, but, as in this case, saws, secateurs and a chain saw were needed to remove them.

The Walnut tree was to have its branches removed in the spring but, as this is the time when the sap rises, it had to be delayed. Six months later, with the risk of weeping now reduced, the branches have been safely removed.

With all the clutter having been removed the view across the lake is now clear.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Beneath The Apple Trees

F0llowing the success of the tulips in the orchard, see blog entry 18th April 2011 'Accident or By Design' , more have been planted today. A further 50 'China Pink' and 50 'National Velvet' have been planted beneath the apple trees to create an even better display next spring, this time by design.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Remembrance Day Wreaths

One of the jobs that the gardeners are very proud to be asked to do at this time of year is the making of the Remembrance Day wreaths. Laurels leaves are used to signify honour, rosemary for remembrance along with the red Poppy. The wreaths will be placed in front of the two war memorials in the cloisters during the remembrance service this Sunday.

First Day of Sale

The team have been busy labelling the juice bottles, with the help of a few student volunteers. The first batch went on sale this afternoon from Simon's office and will be sold every Friday afternoon until we sell out. Priced at £3.75, they are proving very popular this year.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A Busy Time Ahead.

The herbaceous perennials have given us a stunning display in the college borders, now they have started to die back and are ready to be cut down. The team spent the day working in the Provost's Garden, the first of many that will be spent over the coming weeks cutting back all the college herbaceous borders. Once cut down they can be weeded, bulbs planted then mulched, and with the leaf clearance, a busy time is ahead for the team.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Filling Up Fast

The ditch around the sports field is filling up fast and for the third time this autumn the gardeners find themselves clearing out the leaves.
On the previous occasions the leaves were dry, today the leaves are wet and alot heavier. Some leaves are blown out but most are blown into piles and forked out. Once out of the ditch they are blown, forked and raked away from the ditch to form a thick mulch against the hedge and wall of the college perimeter.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Last Day of Filming

Today saw the last day of filming of Lewis. The crew and actors spent time filming scenes in the orchard and at the entrance of The Ruskin Building. Watch out for the scenes involving a man being questioned under the Lanes Prince Albert apple tree and a man cycling past our new Yew hedge.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

A Day of Education

With the weather being very grey and drizzly today, the team take the opportunity to use this time for some education. Always looking for inspiration, new methods and techniques, as well as current horticultural trends, they decide to visit two different gardens.
The first garden, Millwood Market Gardens, an organic vegetable and fruit garden, is run by Jonathan and Lucy Bowden. Lucy, you may remember, was our apprentice and has been running this small business with her husband. It was great to see the progress she has made since leaving us and the team picked up a few tips in how to grow vegetables very successfully.

The second garden visit of the day was to The University of Oxford Botanic Garden. Their team of gardeners are busy working on The Merton Borders using principles and techniques never tried in the gardens before. The beds, measuring 955 square metres, have already been prepared and we went to see the first few plants being planted, as well as to learn all about the theory behind this exciting new border design. For more information click on the following link:


Excitement around the college today with the first day of filming the ITV programme 'Lewis'.
The television crew spent the day filming scenes in the front quadrangle, chapel and the front of the college. Watch out for the new series and see if you recognise Worcester College.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Ivy Clearance

With Ady, Callum and Graham working in another corner of the college clearing overgrown shrubs, Kieron and Ali focus their attention to a dark corner garden with an ivy problem.

Having pushed their way through a door at the back of Simon's office, they start the clearance in the corner in order to improve access for the removal of the rubbish.

The ivy, having been left unattended for a number of years, has now covered a number of walls, out buildings and the house roof. By the end of the day, using saws, secateurs and loppers, they manage to fill 11 tonne bags full of ivy. The remainder of the ivy is left to die back on the peak of the roof.


This year's press of some of the college pears and apples has produced 482 bottles, all requiring two labels. Today the process of labelling all the bottles started, 100 bottles are now complete and ready to be sold.