Saturday, 31 March 2012

Weeding, Levelling and Measuring

The other half of the nursery was weeded yesterday as the team continued the reclamation project. Once the weeding was finished the remainder of the soil was drawn down from the higher end to create a level surface. The five beds were then measured out roughly to get an idea of where they will go and how many stripes each lawn path will have when mowed.

Pricking Out

The seeds sown on the 12th March, see blog entry 'Seed Sowing 2012' are now ready to be pricked out. Simon and Ali spent a few hours yesterday morning pricking the tiny seedlings out into their own pots.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Nursery Reclamation

Today the team started on another project, the reclamation of the nursery. Over the last few years the area has gradually been overtaken by the weeds resulting in fewer plants and vegetables being grown. The plan is to create five equally sized beds with grass paths around them.
Half of the plot was weeded and then levelled as one side of the plot was higher than the other. The team will return to the plot tomorrow to work on the other half.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

'It's Not All Pretty Flowers'

As with yesterday, the team spent the morning demolishing the old hen house. The skip had been replaced, but it wasn't long until the new one was full again.

Neatly filled by Ady to maximise its capacity, large pieces were broken up and the old tin roof panels used to prop up the sides. A gardeners work "is not all pretty flowers" and "this has got to be the worst job we have done in a long time" comments made whilst rummaging around in the rotten wood, tin, chicken wire and dust, more pretty flowers please!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Old Hen House

The team returned to a garden they first visited in May last year. On that occasion it was to see the work that would be needed to clear it. Ady and Callum started the renovation in August, see blog entry 4th August 2011 'In The Pouring Rain', clearing all the overgrown shrubs and brambles. At the very end of the garden an old hen house was discovered, its removal left for another day.

Well today was the day for its demolition, the start of it anyway. Using a wrecking bar and sledge hammer the hen house was removed in pieces to the skip.

During the demolition, amongst the rubble, a Peacock butterfly was spotted, it's bright colours illuminating the scene of destruction.

After a few hours work the skip was full so the team will be returning tomorrow to finish the clearance.

Monday, 26 March 2012

A Dressing Of Wood Chippings

The first part of the Canal Building project drew to a close today with the mulching of the newly planted ornamental grass borders.

The wood chip mulch, the product of the chipping of all the college woody material, is poured on top of the weed suppressing membrane, around the grasses, and levelled to create a fresh new border.

Round In Circles

We have seen straight lines to form a chequer board effect, large diagonal lines, see blog entry ''Change of Direction' dated 2nd June 2010 and now the lawn in the front quadrangle has circles on it.

As with the diagonal lines, Joss uses string to set up his starting point. For the circles he runs string from a corner, diagonally across the quad, to the opposite corner, staking each end. He repeats this process creating a cross of string on the lawn, giving him the centre point from where he starts the first circle. After each circle is complete he has to change the direction of the mower, going in the opposite direction to the previous circle, creating the amazing striped effect, stunning!

Friday, 23 March 2012

New Things

The path that runs from the Nuffield Building to the Broadwalk has been wearing away over the years and has been due for repair. Starting yesterday, working from the Broadwalk end, the contractors have broken up the top layer using a small digger and added 10 tonnes of new hoggin to the top. Using a roller and whacker plate, the new hoggin has been compressed to form a new path.

Other things new to the college is the arrival of a pair of swans on the lake. The hope is that they will stay, previous visits have only been for a few hours.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

113 Grasses & A New Stone Edge

The canal building borders have been an ongoing project for the last few years. Situated at the far end of the college, the borders need to be low maintenance so a mixture of grasses has been decided upon. The the first two borders were prepared for planting, see blog entry 'A Continuing Project' dated 4th January 2012 and have since had a weed suppressing membrane placed on top.
The grasses have been acquired from other borders in the college by lifting and splitting them into smaller pieces, resulting in a total of 113 to be planted into the two borders. Callum and Ali were assisted in the morning by our new volunteer gardener, Lizzie and, by the end of the day, all of the grasses had been planted through the membrane which had to be carefully cut before planting. each grass.
To complete the project the grasses will be watered in tomorrow and a wood chip mulch added early next week.
Over on the other side of the college, Kieron and Simon built a new stone edge along the front of the corner border. The path that runs from the Nuffield Building, in front of the corner border and past the herbaceous border to the Broadwalk is due to be relaid next week, so a higher edge was required to be in place before this work starts.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Tulipa turkestanica

A beautiful bulb that has been enjoying the recent warm weather is Tulipa turkestanica, a spring flowering bulb with star shaped white flowers and a yellow centre. Groups of them have planted in several places in the Gloucester House gravel garden and are currently giving us a lovely, bright, spring display.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Pruning and Pit Preparation

The team spent yesterday working in the Provost's rose garden pruning the roses, weeding and edging the rose beds. Having not quite finished yesterday, they returned this morning to complete the work.

In the afternoon, in preparation for the grass mowing season, the compost pit by the Provost's garden was emptied and transferred to the larger pit at the top of the sports field. The mix of leaves, grass and herbaceous material will now be allowed to rot down further during the coming summer months and, hopefully, will be used as a mulch in the autumn on the college borders.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Bulking Up The Snowdrops

After a week of tidying up all the tool and machinery sheds, chemical cupboard and making sure all our paperwork is in order, COSHH and risk assessments, yes you've guested it, the Health & Safety consultants are in, we finish the week planting snowdrops.
In the area under the trees on the Nuffield lawn, hundreds more snowdrops are added to bulk up the existing display, Galanthus 'Ginns Imperati', 'Straffan' and Galanthus plicatus, all kindly given to us by a friend of the team, Alice Munsey from the local Alpine Garden Society. Thanks to this kind gift our display should be even better next year, maybe even looking like the display at Welford Park, see blog entry 22nd February 2012 'Welford Park Visit'.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Seed Sowing 2012

With the new mist unit in place, it is time to put it into use. Before joining the guys down at the sportsground, Ali starts the morning seed sowing, Rudbeckia, Sweet Peas, Gazania, Cosmos, Cleome, Guara, Geranium and Begonia are the first to be sown, more will be done over the next few days.

Rugby Posts

The garden team merged with the grounds team back in October 2011, so the gardeners have today been involved in something new, the taking down of the rugby posts. The rugby season has finished and the sports ground will be needed for new cricket season, so the posts, situated in the out field, are in the way and need to be taken down.

The gardeners and groundsmen, having completed their training in the erection of tower scaffolding a few years ago, build a tower to the top of the posts. The top third is removed first and carefully passed down the tower to the men on the ground.

The horizontal bar is then removed, the team then begin the hardest part of the job, the taking down of the upright, which is four to five feet deep in the ground. Working together, it is lifted up out of the ground and gently lowered, controlled by the man at the top who has tied a rope around the top of the upright.
With the upright down, the tower scaffold is moved to the next upright and the procedure starts again. Of course, posts come in pairs, so the whole thing has to be done again down at the other end of the pitch.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Re-emergance Of The Box Balls

The serpentine beds in the Ruskin Building courtyard have been looking rather shabby and in need of some attention. The Muscari, that create the river of blue, are emerging but can not be seen as they are hidden under the collapsing grasses.

Unable to use a hedge trimmer to cut the grasses down, for fear of cutting the Muscari's blue flowering heads off, secateurs are used. A slow process, but more accurate, the borders are cleared, the box balls re-emerge and the blue starts to become more visible.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Tomato House Preparation

Now that the tomato house has had its broken glass replaced, Ali and Callum spent the morning preparing it for the growing season. The cold frame lids were removed from their winter storage inside the house and washed off.

The two borders were then forked through, mulch added and levelled. Tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce will be grown in these borders again this year.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Pot Washing, Potting On and Planting

With it raining this morning, some of the team started the day off in the greenhouse washing flower pots and potting up some of the cuttings taken last September.

Even though it was raining, with a delivery of young Yew trees expected during the day, those not staying dry indoors dug a trench along the edge of the orchard extension.

By lunch time the trench had been dug and leaf mould added to the bottom. The Yew trees arrived, conveniently, after lunch and 40 were placed along the trench ready for planting.

By the end of the day, with the team now all working together, the young trees had been planted and watered in.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Pourous Pipe Relaid

With the tulips and perennials emerging in the herbaceous border, it is time to get the porous pipe out of the pump house and laid back down on the border. Carefully rolled up and labelled in the autumn, herbaceous left front, herbaceous left back, the pipes went back in their place from where they were lifted last year.