Wednesday, 29 February 2012

In And Around The Weir

Today the team spent the day working in and around the weir, Simon and Kieron started off in the water clearing out the fallen leaves, branches, twigs and litter.
Once dried off they joined the rest of the team. The herbaceous planting in the coir rolls needed to be strimmed down, the banks of the weir tidied and the lower branches on the yew by the bridge, removed.

By the end of the day, a new, clear view from the bridge, across the water and into the Provost's garden.

A Permanent Home

Last June you may remember the blog entries, 'An Old Cedar Tree' posted 8th June, 'The Last Piece' and 'The New Border (The Fallen Tree Border)' both posted 9th June. These entries were all about the use of an old cedar tree that had fallen in the college six years earlier and the use of the pieces to create a feature in a new border design. Having been removed in October, when the border was replanted for the winter, the pieces were stored away again. A new, permanent home has now been found for them, as you walk towards the bridge you will now see them in the Tree Fern Border.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Four Forks

Today was a day for the use of forks around the college. Ady and Graham worked on the herbaceous border, lightly forking it through to tidy it up.

In preparation for the spiking of the banks today, Simon and Joss spent a few hours yesterday mowing them to reduce the height of the grass.

With the grass a lot shorter, Callum joined Joss on the banks to spike them with a fork. Carefully balancing, trying hard not to slip over on the steep angle, the fork is pushed into the turf and gently pulled out so as not to disturb the roots. By the end of the day the calf muscles will ache, but a few more hours will be needed tomorrow to finish.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Cold Frame Clearout

With spring fast approaching it's time to start clearing out the cold frames and give them a good clean. All the plants are removed, dead ones are composted or taken to the skip, some of the shrubs planted, weeds pulled up and the frames brushed out.

Tidying The Gravel Garden, Mediterranean or Dry Garden?

It's time for the Gloucester House gravel garden to be cut down and weeded, a little later than last year but, strangely, the same date as 2010. The Echinacea, Knautia, Calamagrostis, Deschampsia, Eringium and Dierama are all past their best and have been looking rather messy for a few months now. Once all the old stems and grasses have been cut down and the weeds pulled up, the gravel is raked, a very tidy border is left behind at the end of the day.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

End Of The Orchard Extension

Yesterday the team spent the day adding soil to the orchard plot to bring up the height, then raked it level. The stone edge was finished and hoggin added to path followed by a top dressing of shingle. Joss spent this morning scattering grass seed over the plot, now we wait for the grass to grow, that's if the pigeons don't eat all of the seed first.

Welford Park Visit

For a few hours today, after completing the orchard project this morning, the team visited Welford Park, near Newbury, to see the magnificent display of snowdrops. Within the grounds is seven acres of woodland that, during February, is carpeted with snowdrops and from a distance, it looks like it has been snowing. A wonderful, inspirational sight for us to see, now how can we make Worcester look like this?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Rough Digging and Stone Edging

The orchard extension continued today with the rough digging of the plot, turning the soil over and removing all the remaining weeds and debris. A new stone edge was also put in place to support the path that runs along side the plot.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Goosanders Are Back 2012

As we move in to the fourth year of the blog, I am pleased to report the return of the pair of Goosander to our lake. Although only a fleeting visit, a few days, sometimes a week, they have arrived on time. The dates of their previous visits, including this year, are:

  • Friday 17th February 2012
  • Thursday 19th January 2011
  • Thursday 18th February 2010
  • Monday 16th February 2009

Last year they surprised us by arriving a month early, a trend that continued throughout the gardens, the whole year was three weeks early, but how would they know, the wonder of birds and their migration. Hope to see you next year between the 16th-18th February, will let you know if this prediction, and their migration, is on time.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Orchard Extension

In front of the greenhouses is a very scruffy, unkempt area that will form an extension to the orchard in which we will plant new fruit trees during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year, although not specifically a commemorative garden, a very good reason for clearing this neglected area.

Years of brambles, bindweed, ivy and tired roses growing unchecked need to be cleared, so with the sharp blade attachment on the strimmer, Graham and Ady start to cut them down, Callum removes an old, broken fence that has crumbled under the weight of the wilderness.

Once strimmed down, the grab on the front of the tractor helps clear the strimmings and loads them into the trailor bound for the skip. The roots are then dug out and the area raked through, the project continues.
(Don't know where I am going to get my blackberries from this year!)

Wild Flower Meadow

Already with one area devoted to wild flowers in the college currently in its third year since sowing, Ali is trying to create a second. A small trial area was sown last year and this is now being extended to run through the orchard. The area is scarified, scuffed up, using a spring rake and then the seed is broadcast over these bald areas. Rain forecast tomorrow and a bit of cold, sun and warmth over the next month, should create perfect conditions for germination.
The seed mix is 80% grasses and 20% wild flowers. The wild flowers are:
  • Betony
  • Birdsfoot Trefoil
  • Bulbous Buttercup
  • Catsear
  • Cowslip
  • Common Knapweed
  • Ladys Bedstraw
  • Oxeye Daisy
  • Salad Burnet
  • Self Heal
  • White Campion
Whilst working in the orchard this week, a lone snowdrop has appeared, a welcome sight on this side of the college.

Apple Pruning, Its Fourth Year.

The team have been working in the orchard since Monday pruning all the apple and pear trees, the fourth year of our pruning programme to reduce the height and increase the yield of our trees.

New blades on the saws, sharpened secateurs and a new chain on the chainsaw makes the job easier. All the wood cut from the trees is chipped. This year the chipper was hitched up to the back of a tractor and brought down to the edge of the orchard, a far more efficient way of working rather than taking, what would have been, the large number of trailer loads full of wood to the chipper at the other end of the college sports field.

Particular attention was paid to a very old apple tree in the corner of the orchard that has been slowly brought back to life over the last three years. Back in the pruning of 2010, rather than fell the tree, it was decided that we would have a go at rejuvenation. The tree had its old limbs cut back severely in the hope this would stimulate a lot of new growth. Last year the tree has produced this growth, one year old wood, and now it has lots of two year old wood. As most of this young growth has grown vigorously, straight up in the air, weights have been tied to them to bend them down.

The method of weighing down young growth was used on another tree a few years ago and proved very successful. This old tree now looks like a piece of modern art with bits of wood hanging from it and of course nothing has been wasted as these pieces have been recycled from other trees.Once the sap starts rising up the tree and along the weighed down young growth, they will continue to grow in their new direction, we can then take the weights off.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Two, Better Than One

After all the recent snowfall and cold temperatures it is still warm in the greenhouse. On the 19th January I posted a picture of the Strelizia reginae, Bird of Paradise, with one flower and noted that there was a likelihood of another, well here it is, the first time we have had two flowers.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Snow Scenes

Enjoy these panoramic photographs taken of the college in today's snow showing the orchard, duck island, Provost's lodgings, Nuffield lawn and sports ground respectively.

Flowers In The Snow

Back on the 12th January, I noted that the Fuchsia and Dahlia, thinking it was Autumn, were still in flower at the same time as the Aconites, Hellebore and Snowdrops. Well, the Autumn flowers are long gone and all the others are now covered in a few inches of snow, how the gardens have changed in just four weeks.
May we hope that the snow will not last long and normality will return soon, there are fruit trees and roses still to be pruned.

Snow Clearance

The second lot of snow in a week, last weekend and last night. The snow plough came out again to clear some of the wider paths and the car park.

Following behind Simon as he played, sorry worked, with his new toy, the team covered the paths with rock salt.

On the smaller paths, inaccessible to the snow plough, snow shovels were used to clear them, a slower process, but the task was finished by early morning, making the college safe for the staff and students.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Worst Nightmare

With all the membrane down, it's time to cover it with ten tonnes of shingle, three lorry loads. Simon read Ali's mind as she watched the lorry deliver its load, her worst nightmare, not being a huge fan of shingle.

Due to the sports ground still be frozen, Andy and Gary came to join us this morning shovelling and transporting the shingle.

By lunch time all the shingle had been levelled, leaving just the area next to where Kieron was working.

The last task, to lay a new stone edge leading from the white gate to the front door.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Carpet Laying

The team returned to the garden they started clearing last week. This weeks tasks to put in wooden edging along the back of the hedge, stone edge the new borders under the front windows, lay weed suppressing membrane and cover with ten tonnes of gravel due to be delivered on Thursday.

Ady and Graham work together in laying the wooden edge on one side of the hedge with Joss putting down the wooden edge on the other side. Kieron lays down the stone edging for the borders under the windows.

Ali and Calum spend the day on their knees laying the weed suppressing membrane, carefully overlapping each piece and pegging it down, don't ask us to lay your carpets though.

With the largest area completed by the end of the day, they will return tomorrow to lay the membrane at the front of the house between the new wooden and stone edging.