Friday, 31 August 2012

Wettest Summer In the UK For 100 Years!

Met Office figures have recorded that, since records began in 1910, the summer of 2012 was the second wettest across the UK and the wettest since 1912, 100 years!
The Met Office say that "figures for June, July and August show that 370.7 mm of rain fell across the UK, making it the second wettest summer on record since the 384.4 mm of rain seen in the summer of 1912.
These latest figures follow a record wet April, and an April to June period that was also the wettest recorded in the UK.
Summer 2012 was also one of the dullest summers on record with just 413 hours of sunshine. This makes it the dullest summer since 1987 when the UK saw only 402 hours of sunshine.Unsettled weather has never been far from the UK during the past three months.
Movements in the track of the jet stream, a narrow band of fast flowing westerly winds high in the atmosphere, have contributed to the weather we have seen. This summer has seen periods of heavy and prolonged rain, as well as short but exceptionally heavy thundery downpours and only brief warm sunny spells."

A year of extreme weather, we wait to see where the jet stream parks itself over the UK next summer.

Inexperienced and Experienced

Today saw Callum's first time on the small Iseki ride on mower. Having mastered the push Honda mowers over the last twelve months, he spent a few hours, under Graham's guidance and tuition, mowing the top orchard lawn.

Over on the bottom orchard, as Callum cuts the top orchard grass, Joss, experienced on rode on mowers, spent the time cutting down the long grass that had begun to flop over and look very messy. Inexperienced and experienced, both make a lovely job of mowing the grass.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Tidying The Yew Columns

The yew columns in the Provost's garden were pruned back in mid June, see blog entry 'Preparation For Encaenia 2012' , in which it states 'are usually cut at the end of August'. Since they were cut, just 11 weeks ago, the yews have continued to grow and now look very shaggy and in need of our attention again. By the end of the day Ali had trimmed them all again and, hopefully, will be the last time until next August.                                             

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Truck Repair

What better day to repair one of the trucks than a very wet, damp day. The truck's wooden base has fallen to pieces and it has been unusable for some time, so Ady and Graham made some space in one of the machine sheds and started to take the truck apart. Removing the sides first they then removed the rotten base and replaced it with a new piece of wood. The wood will be treated with a preservative before the truck is put back in to use.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Goodbye Circles

In preparation for the autumn/winter lawn maintenance programme Joss has had to stop going round in circles and start walking in straight lines again on the quad lawn. The new straight lines will guide Joss when he verticuts and feeds the lawn over the next few weeks, see blog entry 'Verticutting' 8th October 2009.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Team Work

Today has been a day of team work. In the morning the gardeners worked their way around the college spraying the weeds that, due to recent weather, were attempting to take over the college paths, hard surfaced and gravelled areas. In the afternoon the wallflowers, about 350, were repotted, for the last time, before they are planted out in October.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Bird Boxes In Place

Whilst working to clear the canal path and trim the canal hedge, Ali and Simon had time to put up the four bird boxes that were not sold on the charity open day. Built by Kieron, the boxes are now up on the shady side of four trees and, hopefully, will be found next spring by our feathered friends.

'It Needs Cutting Back'

"It needs cutting back", the words spoken by a four year old. They say it as they see it and on this occasion she was right. The path that runs alongside the canal had become difficult to walk down without being scratched by brambles and overgrown shrubs.
Started last week, Ali returns from holiday to assist the guys with the clearance. The ground cover is strimmed and the epicormic growth removed from the lime trees. The hedge and brambles are cut back with the hedge cutter.

Callum uses the long arm cutter to reach the shrub growth that over hangs the canal and by the end of the day the team have completed three quarters of the hedge, they will return to finish next week.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Never Been Seen Before

These photographs show an event that has never been seen before in the college and, you can be sure, will never happen again. Joss gave his permission for the event to be recorded for posterity.

Having mown the quad lawn yesterday, as he walked through the quad this morning the oversight was spotted, five stripes had been missed in one corner. Not noticeable to you and I, Joss could not leave it, he had to get the mower out again and mow the neglected corner.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A Week Of Power Washing

The work to tidy up the weir was finished by lunch last Wednesday and, what started out to be a small power washing job started in the afternoon.

Ady power washed the small bridge that runs over the edge of the weir, but this then made the slabs next to it look dirty. The following day, Thursday, Simon took over from Ady and continued to power wash the slabs which lead away from the bridge and join up with the Ruskin building slabbed area.

Friday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Simon has been power washing hundreds of slabs and has now finished the small job that became a huge endeavour, looks good though. 

At The Top Of The Tallest Ladder

This year it was decided that the 'Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' was in need of a heavy prune rather than the light prune in previous years. The top had got very thick, and having waited for the family of Goldfinches to fledge, the hard prune started yesterday. Most roses are pruned early to mid winter, but the banksiae, flowering in April/May, is pruned after it finishes flowering.

Located at the back of the herbaceous border, the longest ladder is required to reach the thick part of the rose, the top. Having to prune it at this time of year causes a problem as the herbaceous plants are in full flower and the ladder has to reach across the border without causing too much damage. By the end of the day it has been reduced in size and thickness and should be more manageable for the coming few years.

Moving To the Cold Frames

Having been pricked out on the 31st July, this years winter bedding seedlings have now been moved  into the cold frames to acclimatise to the conditions outside. The wallflowers, now small plants three inches tall, will have their tips pinched out to make them multi stemmed and, along with the pansies, will be planted out in October.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Summer Pruning Wisteria

The wisteria gave a marvellous display in May and are now putting all their energy into growth producing vigorous, tangled shoots that need to be pruned. Last week Ali and Graham started working on the college wisteria, cutting the new vigorous shoots back to a couple of buds from the base of this season's growth. Half the wisteria are now looking tidy, the other half are still waiting for their tidying.

Friday, 3 August 2012


Nicotiana mutabilis
'Mutabilis' meaning 'changeable', in terms of a plants colour/flowers. Two, so named, plants showing the mutabilis characteristic, Nicotiana mutabilis and Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis', can be found in the border at the bottom of the quad, both in flower at the moment 
Nicotiana mutabilis has delicate trumpet shaped flowers that are creamy white first and then gradually fade to pink, getting darker as they mature. Both young and old flowers are found on each plant at the same time so have created a beautiful, multi coloured display.
Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis' , a China Rose, has beautiful, single flowers, opening a coppery yellow and changing through a range of colours, apricots to pinks. The flowers, all at different stages of maturity, create the same effect as the Nicotiana.

Rosa chinensis 'mutabilis'

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Tidying The Weir

For the first two days of the week Ady and Callum have been tidying the area in front of the weir that can be found by the Ruskin and Sainsbury Buildings and the orchard.

Heavily infested by bindweed, overgrown shrubs and tired perennials, they were joined today by Ali, Graham and Kieron to help them with, what had proved to be, a rather large job.

The reeds in the weir bed had also become overgrown and had to be cleared, Callum donned the waders and set about dragging the drained bed.

By the end of the day, day three, the beds had been levelled and cleared. The pump, having been repaired, will be reconnected and flowing water will soon be seen again.