Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


Another year has come to an end for the gardening team of Worcester College, a two week break to recharge our batteries ready for 2013.
2012 was another busy year for the team. Apart from the regular garden maintenance, the year saw an ornamental grass border created in the Canal Building; the nursery reclaimed with grass paths and four new beds; hoggin paths laid in the new student vegetable garden; the orchard extended; two newly sown lawns; a new border created by the lake in the Provost's garden and a shingle garden at Worcester Cottage.
A French drain was built in January and snow cleared in February. In March an old chicken house was removed and the wonderfully mown circles on the Quad lawn were seen for the first time, followed by the wettest April on record! May saw the majestical display of wisteria and the birds fledging all around the college grounds. June was the month of the Encaenia with the visit of Aung San Suu Kyi, and July saw the team and volunteers opening the garden for charity raising £1200. By the end of August it was confirmed that it had been the wettest summer for 100 years! September saw the start of the new potting shed being built, the small yield of apples and pears for juicing were picked in October, and the autumn leaf fall had finished by the end of November. December, well the year was almost at an end, the first frosts and light snow fall had already been seen along with more rain, finishing as the year had begun, WET.
On behalf of the team, may I wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for your continuing support, for all your kind comments through the blog and when you come and visit us in the gardens. Hope to hear from you and meet many more of you next year, best regards The Worcester College Gardeners.

Free To A Good Home


With the college closing down today the Christmas trees are in need of new homes for the festive period. The tree from the Pump Quad, featured in the blog posts 'Christmas Is Coming' and 'Santa's Little Helpers' dated 26th November and 13th December respectively, was placed outside the college with the note 'free to a good home', waiting for a passer by to take home and enjoy. It wasn't long before it was taken away, a beautiful tree gracing someone's home over the next two weeks.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Last Cuts Of The Year

With all the rain and the frost over the last two weeks, the team have been unable to get on the lawns to cut them and clear the last remaining leaves. Yesterday the main Nuffield lawn had dried out sufficiently for it to be cut for the last time, but first all the twig debris had to be collected and leaves blown from around the trees in preparation for the ride on mower. With rain forecast and warmer temperatures Joss fed the lawn with 'Marathon Autumn Sport', a slow release, granular autumn and winter fertiliser to promote stronger root development over the next three months.


After feeding the Nuffield lawn it was time to give the banks and quad their last cut of the year. All the lawns have now had their final cut and look immaculate for the coming college close down.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Five Tonnes Of Shingle

Having spent Friday working in the rain tidying up the nursery, weeding the paths and cold frames, five tonnes of shingle arrived this morning to top dress the area.

By the end of the day all five tonnes had been spread on the paths and in the empty cold frames, a very smart way to end the year.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Santa's Little Helpers


As the team walked past the Pump Quad this morning they were greeted by the wonderful sight of the Christmas tree all decorated. The tree was put up at the end of November and had been left bare until this morning, one of Santas helpers must have taken pity on it and decorated it with baubles and a star. Thank you (Marion and Debbie), Santa's Little Helpers.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

To Keep Warm


When the daily temperatures drop into the minus' the gardeners have to keep moving to keep warm. Mulching is one such activity, another is clearing behind the scene areas that tend to get forgotten during the year whilst the rest of the college is maintained. One of these annually maintained areas is behind the Casson Building, Ady and Joss, joined latterly by Ali and Graham, have spent the last few days working to clear the area, back again in twelve months.   

A Sharp Frost

The gardeners arrived in to work only to find the water pipes into the tea shed had frozen meaning no tea or coffee to start the day, not an acceptable situation, even the cob webs were frozen! Needless to say, the problem had to be rectified to stop it happening again, so Kieron set about lagging this important bit of pipe work. In this weather the gardeners have to keep warm on the inside and out, not to worry you, but another source of water was found in the meantime.   

On another note, a flock of Redwings were spotted on the sportsfield along the Nelson Street path, not seen in the college since 13th January 2010, see blog entry 'Redwings and a Parakeet', it must have been cold out in the countryside for them to venture into the college grounds.

Monday, 10 December 2012

A Strange Sight To Behold


With freezing temperatures due this week and, having lost three tree ferns in previous winters, it was decided it would be best to wrap the tree ferns in fleece for the coming winter. There are two species of Dicksonia in the tree fern glade, Dicksonia antarctica and Dicksonia fibrosa, see blog entry 'Dicksonia fibrosa' 18th June 2012.

Ali and Graham worked together to wrap the eight ferns, all of differing shapes and sizes, some needing a step ladder to reach the top. They folded the leaves down around the crown and trunk then covered it with fleece, tying tight with string. A strange sight to behold as you walk towards the glade, strange aliens emerging  from the undergrowth.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Geranium sanguineum 'Ankum's Pride'


"Didn't they just remove geraniums from the Rose Garden?" I can hear you thinking it, see blog entry 'Changes To The Rose Garden', 15th November 2012.  "Why are they putting geraniums back in again?", good question! Well, the geraniums that were removed had got far too big and were competing with the roses and starting to strangle them, not good for a rose garden. Not adverse to geraniums, it's third time lucky, this time with the more compact, pink Geranium, Geranium sanguineum 'Ankum's Pride'. Hopefully this is now the right plant in the right place and it remains compact, only time will tell.

Potting Shed Update


Following on from the last post about the building of the new potting shed, see blog entry 'It Now Looks Like A Shed', 19th October 2012, here is an update for you. As can be seen by the photograph above a considerable amount of work has been done on the interior. The walls have been insulated, boarded and painted white, the base bricks rendered and electricity connected for the lighting. The potting area has been built consisting of a compost mixing area in the far corner, a large potting up area in the middle and a tray shelf nearest to the door for easy access to the glasshouse. The project continues, watch out for future updates.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Cottage Border


The herbaceous cut down continued toady with the cutting down of the cottage borders in the front quad. Ali, Lizzie, one of our volunteer gardeners returning to work with the team today, and Simon used secateurs to cut it down (hedge trimmers are too noisy for use in the quad). Simon and Ali remembering last years discovery, a hibernating hedgehog, see blog entry 'Let Sleeping Hedgehog Lie', 29th November 2011, nervously cut down the Anemone in that area where it was found, worried it might not have made it through last winter. Relief was felt by both as there were no signs of it, a successful hibernation we hope.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Rock Salt, Snow and Ice

Parts of Oxfordshire woke up this morning to the first snowfall of this winter. Although the college had only a light dusting of snow, as it melted and then re froze the risk of ice increased so the team got out the bags of rock salt and spread it on the high risk areas of the college.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A Bowl With No Goldfish

The Goldfish Bowl borders (The Casson Building) have been looking messy for the last few weeks now that the summer display has faded, so it is time to tidy them up.


Graham, Ali and Callum work together cutting down, clearing and removing the herbaceous material to the compost heaps. As with the herbaceous border, see blog entry 'Herbaceous Cut Back', 6th November 2012, the hedge trimmer is used for a quicker cut down and any rough cuts, especially on the large Euphorbia schillingii, are cleaned up with the secateurs.

By the end of the day the cutting down is complete, the borders weeded and left tidy, ready for mulching tomorrow.