Monday, 30 April 2012

Wettest April On Record

Figures released today by The Met Office have confirmed that April 2012 was the wettest in the UK since records began in 1910. This wet month follows the third warmest March since 1910, only beaten by 1938 and 1957. The first two weeks of February were also confirmed as the coldest in the UK for 26 years, a record breaking year so far, but what will May's weather have in store for the gardeners at Worcester College?

Friday, 27 April 2012

Gone Green, Going Green

Two projects that have benefited from the very wet weather that has dominated April are the extension in the orchard and the reclamation of the nursery.

On the 22nd February Joss scattered grass seed over the newly cleared area in the orchard, two months later the bare earth has gone green and the grass has been cut.

The nursery project was finished on the 13th of April with Joss scattering grass seed over the areas that will be the grass paths, in less than a month the grass seed has started to germinate and the bare earth is turning green.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Hardening Off September's Cuttings

With rain forecast this evening and heavy downpours for tomorrow, today was the perfect opportunity to move the last of September's cuttings into the cold frames. The cold frames, their last stop before being planted out in June, provide an environment similar to the outside, but enable us to monitor them, placing fleece or putting the lids back on should the risk of frost return.

Stump Border Path

With the new Stump Border now finished, the path was in need of some renovation. Six tonnes of hoggin was delivered this morning and transported over to the Provost's garden to create the new path.

Tipped into piles, the hoggin was raked to create a slight camber along the centre of the path which will allow any surface water to fall off to the sides.

With the raking finished, the whacker plate was brought out and used to compact the hoggin into a firm, smooth surface.

By the end of the day the project was complete and a new path in place next to the new border.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Rosybill Pochard (Netta peposaca)

A surprise visitor, not seen unless in collections, was spotted on the lake this morning, a Rosybill Pochard (Netta peposaca). A resident of South America, this bird was identified by its distinctive red bill (male) with a black tip and its dark, glossy black-purple head. Welcome to Worcester College, don't know where you have come from, you must have escaped, how long you will stay, but it was lovely to have seen you on the lake.

Turf and Bark

On Friday afternoon Simon, Joss and Ady laid the new lawn on the Stump Border. The team continued working on the lawn today finishing the turf laying at the end of each row.

The Salix alba 'Chermesina', planted on Tuesday, were lifted and placed to one side, then a black, weed suppressing membrane was placed over the back of the border. The Salix were replanted through the membrane along with Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' and a wood chip mulch spread over the membrane. Only the repair to the path remains to be done.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A New Curved Wooden Edge

With the stone edge in place at the side of the new Stump Border, the front was in need of an edge. By the end of the day, a new curved, wooden edge was in place.

Using the metal edge that supports the lawn opposite as a reference point, and the path width of 7 feet, a line was marked for where the new edge would be. A trench was then dug along the line and the 6" x 1" tanalised wood was put in place, anchored into the ground by 10"-12" wooden stakes. Leaf mould was added to the border to raise the level and a top dressing of soil added in preparation for the turf.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Bird Boxes and Flower Pots

The hose pipe restrictions have been announced and, as if by magic, the rain has come. Very heavy down pours all day has meant a few of the wet day jobs have been done. One of them, to tidy the old lean-to greenhouse we use to store the flower pots in. Over the last few years it has become increasingly difficult to access the pots at the back due to us throwing in our pots at the end of each planting out session.
By the end of this rainy day the pots had been sorted into sizes, a large number thrown away and the remainder put back in a tidy, accessible order.
In the large greenhouse, another rainy day job was done, the making and repairing of bird boxes. Three of the boxes have 28mm holes for Blue and Cole Tits, with one having a 32mm hole for House Sparrow and Nuthatches.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Stump Border

The old Beech tree stump has finally been removed, see blog entry 'Grinding Out The Stump' 5th April 2012, leaving a large area for a new border to be created in the Provost's garden. Starting yesterday, the team first marked out the shape using a hose and placed out the first few plants.

Once satisfied with the new shape, large pieces of stone were brought to the area and placed out to create the new edge.

Today a trench was dug and the stones put in place. Soil and leaf mould were brought from the compost area at the bottom of the sportsfield and tipped onto the border to raise the height by the new stone edge, then levelled. The plants, a Dawn Redwood tree, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, and six Scarlet Willow, Salix alba 'Chermesina' were planted.

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Nursery Is Reclaimed

Following the Easter break the team returned to the nursery reclamation project, apart from this blogger who was enjoying her extended Easter break. They spent all of last week working on the project starting with the removal of the thick ivy that had grown along the wall. Four wooden raised beds were made to identical measurements and placed on the newly levelled area.

Once in place the area around the new beds was levelled again ready for the grass seed to be sown. However, having looked at the area, and the sunny south facing wall, it was decided that a hard standing area for a bench should be built for tired gardeners to sit on at the end of the day.

After a further review, the need for a tap nearer to the beds was agreed upon, so a trench was dug along the base of the wall to connect it to the nearest source of water. With the trench filled back in, a few grape vines were then planted along the base of the wall.
Once the bench had been put in place, the grass seed was sown, sunshine and rain is now required.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Grinding Out The Stump

For the week the University Parks have been removing the stump of the old Beech tree in the Provost's garden. Back in August 2009, see blog entry 'Change On The Horizon' 19th August 2009, the very large Beech tree was cut down due to disease. The tree surgeons returned in September 2009, see blog entry 'Lower' 16th September 2009, to cut the stump down to a lower level. Two and half years later the stump of the old tree is being removed, a slow process, using chainsaws, axe, diggers and a stump grinder. A few more days next week and there will be no trace of the once, great tree.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Don't Forget The Echinacea

With the recent spell of hot weather the tulips on the border are further advanced than usually seen at this time of year, creating a bit of a problem. The staking of the plants needed to be done, the team having to tip toe through the tulips very carefully.

Using coppiced Silver Birch to create the plant supports, and getting competitive with their creations, the team finally finished weaving their supports this morning after starting on Monday.

Having not forgotten to stake the Echinacea this year, preventing it from flopping all over the grass, the border was also fed with a granular feed, weeded and edged.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Forecast Rain

With rain forecast in the afternoon, a rare event at the moment, Joss took the opportunity to feed the front quadrangle lawn with a spring fertiliser. Marathon Golf Spring is a slow release fertiliser designed for use on golf greens and other close mown lawns, providing a steady release of nutrients during the spring and summer months as well as creating a rich colour and texture.