Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Bury It

Now that an area of bamboo, shrubs and weeds has been cleared in the Provost's garden, the pipe for the watering system has been exposed and needs to be buried.

A trench, a foot and a half deep, is dug, although progress is slowed down by a number of very large roots from the old Beech tree. Finally, after 3 hours of digging, the trench is complete and the pipe is ready to be put in its new position.

Soil is put back in the trench up to the top of the pipe, it went back in a lot faster than it was taken out. A double layer of slate is placed on top of this, as well as a strip of red and white warning tape, hopefully preventing any damage to the pipe in the future. Having run out of time today, the remainder of the trench will be filled in tomorrow morning.

Monday, 30 January 2012

A Change Of Shape

As the snowdrops have emerged around the Beech, Yew and Hornbeam, it has come to our notice that we didn't get the shape quite right when we put the mulch down. Ali and Callum spent the morning moving and adding more mulch to cover all the emerging snowdrops, all we have to do is remember this new shape for next year.

Also requiring a change of shape this year is the rose in the herbaceous border. Rather than use a wooden frame to tie in this years stems, Ali decided to train this rose the Sissinghurst way. If the stems of the rose are put under pressure by bending and stressing them, the rose will flower more prolifically, it is thought the plant thinks it is going to die so needs to produce more flowers i.e seeds to survive. The old stems, last years flowering stems, have been removed and the new stems, also called canes, have been bent over and clipped to the ground creating a new shape and hopefully an abundance of flowers. When the team come to make the plants supports in March, Hazel arches will be added to support all the summer growth in order to stop it toppling over.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

We Can Rebuild It

In the walled garden, where the team have been working in over the last three days, an old compost bay wall needed to be rebuilt.

The wall on the left of the bay had collapsed, so Simon and Ali found enough old bricks in an adjoining garden, a very large future project, and rebuilt it. On the right hand side, new posts were added to the existing wall so that the entrance slats could be slotted in, the left hand posts will have to wait until the cement has dried.

Just outside the walled garden, Ady noticed that the front edge of a large step had collapsed, so with Graham's assistance, they rebuilt it.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

3 Days, 12 Tonnes

Having spent last week working with shingle and stone, the first three days of this week have been much the same. 12 tonnes of hoggin have been wheelbarrowed into an old walled garden to create paths and hard standing areas around four raised vegetable beds.

Once all the hoggin had been levelled it was compacted using a wacker plate.

Friday, 20 January 2012

A Few Tonnes More

Not all of the 4 tonnes of shingle got used on the French drain project, Pump Quad and herbaceous path, so the remainder has been used to top dress the Broadwalk.
Back in February 2010, see blog entry 10th February '11 Tonnes of Shingle', the team deposited this huge amount of shingle on the Broadwalk and almost two years later it was in need of a small top dressing to cover a few bare patches.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Bird Of Paradise

Shingles, ditches and drains, now for something beautiful. In the greenhouse, keeping warm during the winter, the Strelizia reginae, Bird Of Paradise is in flower, with the likelihood of a second flower on the way. Its beautiful, exotic flowering head resembles the crest of a birds head, a wonderful place to go at the end of a week of shingle, ditches and drains.

Drains and Shingle

The theme so far this week has been drains and Ady continues this theme today. Working along the back of the cottages, he clears the drains, followed by the drains in the front quad.

The French drain construction is completed with a layer of shingle added to the top, and to match, a fresh layer of shingle is added to the path at the back of the herbaceous border.

Having finished the drains, Ady joins Graham, Callum and Ali in the pump quad to add a new top dressing of shingle. Last topped up 18 months ago, see blog entry 'Pump Quad' 3rd August 2010, some of the shingle has disappeared and needs topping up.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Construction Continues

Day three of the drain. Stone is put on top of the perforated pipe and a wooden edge has been built to prevent the soil from the border falling back into the trench.
The edge of the drain that connects to the down pipe is raised to a higher level, and a stone surround built around it to prevent it from filling up with soil again.
With the wooden edge in place the trench is filled with stone, 3 tonnes in all. Over on the Nuffield lawn, the soil has been levelled and the turf is put back.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Perforated and Broken Pipes

Having dug the ditch for the new French drain, the reason for the dampness becomes apparent, a broken drain pipe filled with soil.

Stone is added to the base of the trench upon which a perforated pipe is laid along the entire length of the trench. The pipes purpose, to allow any collected water to perforate along its full length and out of the end into the soak away.

A replacement piece of drain pipe is connected to the old underground pipe. The team will return tomorrow to continue the French drain construction.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Constructing A French Drain

Today the team started the construction of a French drain at the back of the herbaceous border. Water has been penetrating the brickwork of the cottages causing the rooms to become damp, so a drain has got to be built.

The first task was to dig a ditch 3 feet deep and 50 feet long at the back of the border, but where to put the soil? The answer, to fill a large dip in the Nuffield lawn where a tree once stood. The turf is stripped and placed to one side, old rotten roots removed and the dip infilled.

Leaves Blackened

On Thursday I mentioned that there seemed to be some confusion around the gardens amongst the plants, confused as to which season they were in. Well, following a very cold weekend, the Dahlia 'David Howard' and Fuchsia 'Mrs Popple' have finally realised that the winter has now arrived, (The photo above is the same Dahlia in Thursday's posting). The snowdrops, unperturbed by the cold, will, hopefully, now slow down their march towards floral splendor.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Rose Trickery

Some of the roses in the college are old and in need of rejuvenation. One such rose can be found in the front quad, at the end of the top terrace, beside staircase 6. A few young, vigorous stems grew following last years prune but all the flowering shoots are at the top. In order to have more flowering shoots along the entire length of the stem we are going to trick the rose into giving us this growth. As a temporary measure we have put the young stems under pressure by bending them over and tying them in to the horizontal wires. This will slow down the flow of sap along the stem promoting more flowering shoots and once this has happened we will carefully replace the stems back in the centre of the rose.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Confusion Amongst The Plants

All around the college there seems to be confusion amongst the plants as to which season it is, some still think it is autumn, some late winter. In the front quad, on the top terrace, the Dahlia 'David Howard' is still flowering, although looking very tired.
Further into the gardens, in the tropical bed corner, the Fuchsia 'Mrs Popple' is also still flowering. Yet, if you look over onto the Nuffield Lawn, herbaceous border and under many of the trees, the snowdrops are pushing through the soil, some already in flower.
Walk along the path passed the Nuffield lawn, admiring the snowdrops, crocus and aconites as you go, the hellebores are in flower in the Goldfish Bowl borders, what a wonderful conflict to have.


Kieron spent the day pruning the wisteria that overhangs one of the arches into the Nuffield lawn. Last year the left side was untwisted and attached to new wires, this year the right side was in need of attention.
Two new wires were attached to the wall over the arch and the large mass of twisted wisteria untangled until each stem was seperate.
Once seperated each individual stem was then tied to the new wires to create the new framework.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Extra Wires For the Climbers

If you are looking for a gardener over the coming weeks we can be found either at the top of a ladder or at the bottom, footing a ladder. Having started before Christmas, the numerous climbing plants in the college are still being pruned, some however require new wires to aid their climbing.
This week Graham and Ali have been pruning the many wisteria and roses that are found on the back of the 15th century cottages. Having reached the half way point, one of the wisteria needed some new wires put in place to attach a few last years strongest shoots.
Drill, rawl plugs, vine eyes, spirit level, turnbuckles, wire, pliers, wire cutters, extension lead and a transformer, the equipment used to attach three new wires to the wall along with a few hours of patience. If you need Ali and Graham over the next few days, just look for a ladder, the rest of the climbers still need to be pruned.

Monday, 9 January 2012

First Cut 2012

With the warm start to 2012, the grass has continued to grow and the quadrangle lawn is in need of its first cut. Last year the lawn was cut for the first time on the 2nd February, this year, considerably earlier, Joss and the Allett were called into action.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Railings Revealed

The railings in the corner of the Provost's garden have been hidden by ivy for many years.
Twisting and twining, unhindered, smothering everything in its path, the ivy was carefully untwisted and cut away. After many hours and many filled tonne bags, the old railings were finally revealed.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Digging, A New Edge,Twigs, Sticks and Ladders

The second, and largest border was completed in the morning, dug and levelled, ready for planting once it has settled, but things had not gone to plan.
Originally, when the team went to start digging the borders yesterday, the job should have been fairly straight forward, add shingle and leaf mould to the soil, no such luck, the old wooden edging had rotted and needed replacing. Ady, assisted by Callum, managed to find enough wood to create a new edge.
Over on the Nuffield Lawn, Joss spent the morning collecting all the twigs, sticks and branches that have fallen from the trees during the strong winds of the last few days.
By lunch time, a large pile of wood had been taken to the chipper ready for chipping, the lawn, now clear, can be mowed tomorrow as, due to the unseasonably warm temperatures, is in need of a high cut.
The ladders were brought back out today to continue working on the climbers, the pruning of which started last year, and will continue for the next month.