Thursday, 27 September 2012

Potting Shed Floor

Three tonnes of ballast arrived and this had to be added to cement and water to make the new potting shed floor.

Ali, not captured on camera often, worked with Simon and Kieron to make the new floor. The recipe per load was fourteen to sixteen shovels of ballast, a third of a bag of cement and water, just like making a giant cake mix.

Each mixed load was poured in and dragged by rake across the area to produce a level surface.

Once laid the cement floor was gently tapped to create a smooth finish.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Behind The Tennis Courts

Last year, 31st January to be exact, the border behind the tennis court was cleared after years of neglect, see blog entry 'Brambles'. The brambles and ivy had taken over, shrubs left unpruned, resulting in a very messy area as shown in the photo above. Well, almost two years on and the border had again been taken over by the brambles and ivy, shrubs left unpruned and the area was back to how it had looked before its last clearance.
This time the border was not going to be allowed to return to the wild and for the last week Ady, Graham, Callum and Simon have worked hard to clear it. The tired old shrubs, brambles and ivy were all cut down and roots removed, leaving just a few trees remaining. The soil was raked to remove all the debris, levelled and grass seed sown to create a low maintenance grass area. The only time we will need to return to this area in the future is when the grass needs cutting.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Glasshouse To A Hole In The Ground

With the old lean-to glasshouse emptied yesterday, today it was dismantled. This old glasshouse has not had plants grown in it for years and, apart from being used to store the flower pots, has been slowly falling apart, now becoming dangerous and a risk to those who pass by. 

Ali and Kieron teamed up to dismantle it, removing the glass carefully, then unscrewing the corners, the roof batons, wall and base fixings.

By the end of the day, where a glasshouse once stood, there is now a hole in the ground. Tomorrow the building of the new potting shed starts.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Torrential Rain and High Winds

A miserable day to be a gardener, torrential rain and high winds, keeping us indoors for most of the day, only venturing out during breaks in the weather. These awful weather conditions that have lashed Britain since the weekend were caused by the worst September storm in more than 30 years. The repair of the truck started on the 29th August, see blog entry 'Truck Repair', was completed with the painting of the sides and new base.

The cuttings started on the 11th September, see blog entry 'Cuttings 2012', were also completed. The mist unit is now full up, the Pelargoniums have been moved out to make room and are misted daily by hand.
Another job completed in the wind and the rain was the emptying of the old lean-to glasshouse which is due to be dismantled tomorrow. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Dead Grass In The Goldfish Bowl

For those of you who work, live or visit the college regularly, you may be wondering what has happened to the grass in the Goldfish Bowl (Casson Building). No need to worry, this grass has been purposely been sprayed with a weed killer in order to kill it so it can be removed, new top soil added and then reseeded. The lawns treatment is part of this autumns turf maintenance programme and was selected by Joss for replacement due to the poor quality of grass.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

No 20

Having cleared two back gardens last week, see blog entry 'No 25 and 27', Ali and Graham spent time today clearing another back garden that had also become overgrown. Not as weedy as the other two gardens they still had plenty of ivy, brambles and self seeded Buddleia to remove. All the woody material was taken down to the chipper and the ivy and brambles to the skip, another garden cleared by the end of the day.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Platform Repointed

Kieron has spent the last two weeks carefully removing the broken pointing from the old platform by the Sainsbury building in order to replace it with new pointing, see blog entry 'Sainsbury Building Platform' 6th September 2012. Most of those two weeks has been spent bent down on his knees, and, assisted by Callum and Simon, he has finally finished. Old holes have been left and new ones created ready for planting, the platform, over looking the lake, rejuvenated for all to enjoy.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Cheque Presentation


Today the team had the pleasure of having their photograph taken with Alicia and Oliver with a presention cheque on behalf of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. The cheque was for some of the proceeds raised on the charity open day held on 22nd July, see blog entry 'Charity Open Day'. A lovely certificate and thank you card has also been recieved from S.S.N.A.P, the other beneficiary from the open day.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Number 25 and 27

No 25 'Before'
Ali and Graham were given the task to tidy the back gardens of two of the college's properties. Having weeded them just 10 weeks ago they took with them a wheelbarrow, three city council green bags, a hoe, spring rake and a broom. Upon arriving and opening the back doors they soon realised that the equipment they had taken with them would be far from sufficient for the job.

No 25 'After'

Back to the college they went for the tractor, trailer, five empty tonne bags, loppers, saw, blower and a step ladder!

No 27 'Before'

By the end of the day all the tonne bags were full as well as the three city council green bags and, hopefully, the gardens will remain clear until next spring when the weeds begin to re emerge, the weedkiller may then have to be used.

No 27 'After'

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Cuttings 2012

The mornings are getting colder and, not wanting to risk an early frost affecting the tender plants still out on display in the college borders, it's time to take cuttings. Walking round the college Ali gathered cutting material from various tender plants, collecting them in one of the bags given to the gardeners by The University of Alabama who stayed at the college in early summer, it's the perfect size for collecting cuttings in.  

Once back at the greenhouse the cuttings were taken from the gathered plant material by using a sharp knife to trim just below a node or a leaf joint, between 5 to 10 cm in length. The lower leaves were then removed, the tips pinched out and the base of the cutting dipped in hormone rooting powder. Each group of cuttings were then placed in a small flowerpot by making a hole in the compost using a dibber and inserting the base of the cutting into the hole. The pot was then labelled with the date and plant name, watered and placed in the mist unit.

A few more day of taking cuttings this week and the mist unit will be full.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Sainsbury Building Platform

Callum and Ali joined Kieron on the Sainsbury Building platform at the edge of the lake to help him remove all the old pointing from between the slabs. A large area of approximately 110 meter squared, the process begins with breaking up the pointing which is then, painstakingly, collected up with a dustpan and brush and placed in old compost bags, (the number of bags filled will give Kieron an idea of how much new pointing will be required to refill all the gaps). The old planting areas are also dug out and the poor soil taken to the compost area. A slow job, almost always in full sun, will take some time to complete and this is where you will find Kieron over the next few weeks.  

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Nicotiana longiflora

Nicotiana longiflora

'mutabilis', 'sylvestris' and 'langsdorffii' are all species of Nicotiana, the Tobacco plant, that we grow from seed and use as part of our annual display in the borders. This year we were very kindly given seeds of 'Nicotiana longiflora' to add to our display and has been planted in the border at the bottom of the quad. The long, tubular, fragrant, white flowers, 4 inches in length, are beautiful, and when open, resemble a group of ceremonial trumpets playing, a stunning addition to our collection of Nicotiana.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Lawn Maintenance Begins

September is the ideal month to start a lawn maintenance programme. Scarifying the lawns at this time of year, using a scarifier or a spring rake, will allow sufffficient time for the grass to recover before temperatures drop and the growth rate slows. The three small lawns next to the orchard are scarified first and will be spiked next week.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Deep Clean

Next week Ali will start taking cuttings from the college's tender plants so today it's time to begin this years deep clean of the greenhouse. First the wooden bench tops are taken off the staging and placed in the centre then, armed with buckets of hot water and Jeyes Fluid plus a scrubbing brush, Ali cleans away the dirt from the empty staging. Over the next few days the paths, stone, staging and glass will be power washed, the wooden bench tops brushed and the central isle matting replaced.