Friday, 29 June 2012

Waves of Privet

June may now be known for its rain, but June is also known for when the team start the hedge cutting. The long box hedge and some of the outside site hedges have been done, today it's the turn of the privet hedge in the car park.  

Kieron spends the day cutting the hedge, bringing back the waves to the top of privet

Tomatoes and Pineapples

Cyphomandra corymbiflora (Hardy Tree Tomato)

On the top terrace two unusual plants can be found, both in flower at the moment.
Cyphomandra corymbiflora (Hardy Tree Tomato) has large soft leaves with blue/purple flowers that hang in clusters. A member of the Solanaceae family, tomatoes and potatoes, it produces edible fruits that look like tomatoes. 
Acca sellowiana (Pineapple Guava), previously known as Feijoa sellowiana, is a rather exotic looking evergreen shrub. The unusual flowers are purple, tinged white, with long, red stamens amongst grey-green leaves, producing edible fruit.

Acca sellowiana (Pineapple Guava)

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Other Side

Having spent the last few weeks focusing all their efforts on preparing the Nuffield lawn area, herbaceous border and the Provost's garden for the Encaenia, the team have now refocused their attention on the other side of the college.

The box hedge, the longest hedge in the college is cut by Ady this year, whilst Ali spends the day weeding the new nursery beds,

In the orchard the tree circles around the smaller of the trees were also full of weeds and needed to be cleared.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Dracunculus vulgaris

Located in the border at the side of the Nuffield Building the Dracunculus vulgaris, Voodoo Lily, Stink Lily, has been in flower for the last week emitting a rather unpleasant smell. Back on the 26th June 2009, see blog entry 'Mum's Lipstick & A Dragon', I spent time next to the plant taking photographs, well today I bravely went back, this time to take video. From the video you will see the number of flies it attracts, this is due to the awful scent it emits, it smells of rotten meat. Luckily for you they haven't invented a way of conveying the scent through the internet, I am sure the flies were following me around all afternoon following my short visit to the plant. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Encaenia Garden Party 2012

The sun was shining and the garden looking wonderful, the perfect afternoon to host the Encaenia garden party. The traditional Encaenia ceremony was held in the morning, the familiar procession of the Heads of Colleges, university dignitories and the honorands walking in full academic dress to the Sheldonian Theatre on Broad Street. All the hard work over the last two weeks by the team was rewarded when seeing the many guests arriving in their colourful regalia. Particular attention was made to one very special guest who had received her Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law, Aung San Suu Kyi, having been awarded it in 1993 but been unable to collect it until today.  

The Nuffield lawn and marquees, empty this morning, were filled with guests enjoying their surroundings and refreshments; cream teas, sandwiches, and strawberries and cream, in the background, a jazz band playing.

Finishing Touches For Encaenia 2012

The day of the Encaenia has arrived and the team spent the morning making sure everything in the gardens is perfect for such a grand occasion. The Provost's lawn is mowed again before the table and chairs are moved into position. The paths are hoed and then raked again.

The Provost's rose garden lawn is mowed and the all the roses dead headed, (Ali and Joss were filmed by BBC Oxford dead heading and mowing to show the preparation being made for the event and a very important guest, unfortunatley the film ended up on the cutting room floor).  The quad is mowed and all the marquees are in place, all is now ready for Encaenia 2012.

Two Fox Cubs

Just thought you might like to see the two new fox cubs that have been seen in the college grounds.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Almost Ready For The Encaenia

Last week the team prepared the Provost's garden for the Encaenia garden party and, over the last two days, have now focused their attention to the Nuffield lawn area. As the first of the marquees arrive and are set up on the lawn, Ali worked on the herbaceous border filling all the gaps with plants, weeding, forking it through and edging it, whilst the other team members worked in other surrounding areas.

The winter border was weeded and Linbury entrance blown through to clear all the tree debris that has fallen over recent weeks. At the back of the lawn the large shrub borders were weeded, edged and topped off with a new mulch of wood chippings.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Dicksonia fibrosa

Over the last few years we have, due to the cold late winters, sadly, lost three of the Dicksonia antarctica planted in the tree fern glade. These dead ferns have today been replaced by three hardier, slightly smaller, tree ferns, Dicksonia fibrosa, The Woolly Tree Fern. 
Dicksonia fibrosa also comes from New Zealand, growing on both the North and South Islands and, in its native habitat, experiences temperatures as low as -11°C, so is thought to be hardier than the previously planted antarctica. The beautiful, jade green fronds can grow between 1.5-2.1m creating a canopy of up to 4m in diameter, a great addition to our tree fern glade.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Ten Beautiful Trees

On the 8th March the team took a delivery of ten trees from Bracham Trees:
Betula albosinensis 'Fascination' x 3 (Chinese Red Birch); Cedrus atlantica Libanii (Cedar); Fagus sylvatica 'Dawyck' x 2 (Beech); Juglans nigra (Walnut); Metasequoia glyptpstroboides (Dawn Redwood); Quercus rubra (Northern Red Oak) and Taxodium distichum (Swamp Cyprus). These wonderful trees were purchased following a very generous donation from former student John (Chip) Stidolph (1961).

On the 27th March we started to plant the trees around the college grounds. The Cedrus atlantica Libanii was one of the first to planted and is now located at the front of one of the borders at the back of the Nuffield lawn.

A hole was dug and the tree very gently placed into the hole, then lifted in and out a number of times until a big enough hole was dug to accommodate its rather large root ball. Once straight, having been adjusted until standing tall and upright, the hole was filled in and heeled in securely. It was given a good drink to settle it in to its new home. 

By the end of the day, all but the three Betula albosinensis 'Fascination' had been planted, some with the addition of tree stakes for support.

Today, the 15th June, the last three trees were planted in a group by the bridge, on the edge of the tree fern glade. Ten beautiful trees now grace the college with their presence for future generations to enjoy, thanks to John (Chip) Stidolph's generous gift .

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Preparation for Encaenia 2012

The team spent their second day working in the Provost's rose garden in preparation for next weeks Encaenia garden party. Yesterday all the rose beds were weeded and edged, and the patio area power washed.
Today the yew columns, usually cut at the end of August, were cut by Ady with a pair of hand shears, whilst Simon cut the box hedge with the hedge trimmer.  

The bridge that goes over the lake, linking the Provost's garden with the Nuffield lawn, was also in need of some attention so was power washed by Graham. Ali could be found in amongst the roses dead heading all the faded flowers.

At the end of two very busy days the rose garden is ready for a garden party that will be held as part of the University's annual Encaenia celebrations.

Monday, 11 June 2012

A Gardener's Tea Shed Is His Castle

'An Englishman's home is his castle', well for the gardeners, the saying should be 'a gardener's tea shed is his castle'. Our place of refuge, tea and lunch break and during 'Monsoon June' our place to repeatedly dry off.
Our lovely shed has been broken into, see blog entry 'Break In' dated 26th April 2011, had its roof ripped off, see blog entry 'Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String' dated 18th November 2009 and had a new roof, see blog entry 'Fiddlers On The Roof' dated 25th November 2009.
Today, during our lunch break and more heavy rain fall, we noticed water dripping down a wall and upon investigation, found that the gutters were full of leaves that had fallen from the Holm Oak trees that surround the shed. Ady, in the rain, cleared all the leaves from the gutters and the water is now being kept to the outside of the shed, the gardeners staying dry inside. 

Friday, 8 June 2012

Marginals In Flower

Back at the end of August 2010 the weir was repaired and part of the repair was to add ready planted coir rolls to the new edge, see blog entry 'Coir Rolls' dated 28th August 2010. Almost two years have passed and the marginal plant, Iris pseudacorus (Yellow Flag Iris) is flowering, brightening up the boggy, moist, waters edge.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Four Day Weekend

Although today is Saturday and the start of a four day Jubilee weekend, the team came in to work to finish the mowing and to plant up one of the last remaining borders for the summer display. The grass, if left unmown for four days, will be alot harder to cut when they return on Wednesday and with heavy rain forecast, it was also the ideal opportunity to plant out the border and let the rain water all the plants in. With both these jobs done the team go home to enjoy the extended weekend, knowing that they are on top of things when they return to a very short week.