Friday, 30 November 2012

Enhancing The Display


Graham and Ali  spent the first few hours yesterday working on the Broadwalk border, weeding it and cutting down the Hellebore foliage. The removing of the old foliage will allow the newly emerging flowers to be seen, enhancing their wonderful display when all the flowers are open, as well as preventing the smothering of the snowdrops when they push through the soil. Today, having also started to mulch the Broadwalk yesterday, they were joined by Ady, Callum and a volunteer gardener to completed the task.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Pruning Begins


The pruning of the climbers began today starting with those on the top terrace. Last year the team managed to get an early start on the large amount of pruning around the college grounds, see blog entry 'Getting A Head Start' 16th December 2011 and this year the pruning has started even earlier. First to be pruned, the Campsis, a deciduous, woody stemmed climber whose sideshoots were cut back to two or three buds.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Christmas Is Coming


The Christmas trees that Simon chose from Waterperry Gardens arrived this morning, one of which was for display in the Pump Quad. Following the removal of the Olive tree which had got pot bound, there was now an empty pot fit for a Christmas tree. When the tree was unwrapped, the team received lots of positive comments, a beautiful tree and so many people surprised to see a Christmas tree in the Pump Quad, hopefully the first year of many.

Friday, 23 November 2012

A Surprise Early Visit

This morning there was a surprising sight on the lake, the Goosanders! Not expected until next February they have arrived 3 months early, 2 males and three females. Last year they arrived one month early, they usually fly in between the 16th to 18th February, see blog entry 'Goosanders Are Back 2012' 18th February 2012. Has the unseasonal weather altered bird migration? What are they telling us, are we in for a cold or warm winter? only time will tell.
An very informative blog, for those of you interested in birds and their migration, have a look at the BTO Bird Migration Blog.

All The Leaves Are Down


After giving up chasing leaves around the college grounds yesterday, the swirling 30mph winds made it impossible to catch them, the team resumed their battle today only to find that, overnight, the wind had blown the leaves into large piles ready to pick up. Mother Nature must have had so much fun yesterday watching the team raking up the leaves only to see them blown all over the grounds before they could be picked up, so much fun that she decided to pile them up for easy collection today! The leaves are all down by the end of November this year, all that's left is to spend the next few weeks mowing and raking them up.  

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Snowdrops In Autumn Leaves


First mentioned in the blog back in 2009, see blog entry 'Snowdrops' 23rd October, these lovely autumn flowering snowdrops, Galanthus reginae olgae, are found under a tree on the Nuffield Lawn. Nestled in amongst the autumn leaf fall they remind us of what is to come in three months time, a wonderful display of snowdrops marking the end of winter and the beginning of spring. On comparing the dates of the two posts, this year they are in flower a month later than 2009.   

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Nine Dozen Bottles


The first half of this years 'Worcester College Apple and Pear Juice'  has arrived from Waterperry Gardens, nine dozen bottles all needing to be labelled. Ali spent a few hours this morning placing two labels on each bottle and they are now ready to be sold, the other half will arrive soon also needing to be labelled. Due to the decreased yield from our fruit trees this year, a poor summer and the lack of flower pollination by insects, the pressing of fruit only produced 200 bottles compared to the previous few years, they will sell out fast.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Leaf Chasers

The team have felt like leaf chasers today, no sooner had they raked, mown or blown the leaves they were replaced by the same again, if not more. These photos were taken an hour after the team had cleared the leaves.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Emergency Spraying

The main quad lawn has been showing signs of the fungal disease 'Fusarium', noticeable by the brown patches that have gradually been appearing in recent weeks. Due to the rapid spread on the lawn Joss has had to do an emergency spray of fungicide today. Using a walkover sprayer containing a mix of Chipco Green, a contact fungicide, and Astute, a systemic fungicide, the emergency spray treatment was applied to the lawn, the white dots in the photo are just to show where the spray has been applied.

Changes In The Rose Garden

Over the last three days the team have spent their time in the Rose Garden tidying it up for the winter and making a few changes.

A number of grasses had already been removed since the Rose Garden was restored back in 2007, but the remaining few have now got too big and needed to be lifted and split, and the new smaller clumps replanted. Another plant the team had to remove was the violet-blue Geranium 'Brookside' which was planted a few years ago to replace the pink Geranium x oxonianum 'A T Johnson' which had also got too big.
By the end of the three days all ten of the borders had been weeded, roses cut back, plants lifted and split, geraniums removed, tulips planted and the lawn mowed.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Honey Fungus

The honey fungus that was slowly killing the old privet hedge in the orchard resulting in it being replaced by Taxus (yew), see blog entry 'Privet Hedge' 14th March 2011, has now appeared at the base of a few of the old fruit trees that were nearest to the hedge. Malus (apple), Pyrus (pear) and Ligustrum (privet) are particularly susceptible to honey fungus which spreads underground, attacking and killing the roots of the plants and then decaying the dead wood. One of the signs of honey fungus to look out for are clumps of honey coloured toadstools that appear on infected stumps in autumn. However, although bad news for the old trees, the squirrels appear to be happy with this new supply of late autumn food.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Autumn Glow

Whilst Ali and Kieron have been working on one side of the college, Joss and Ady have been working over on the other side, tidying the Sainsbury Building and Ruskin Building areas. Weeds and leaves needed to be cleared, and perennials and grasses cut down. By the end of the day the box balls have re emerged, but the leaves on the Magnolia 'Elizabeth' have yet to fall, their autumn colour glowing in the outdoor lighting.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Mulching The Herbaceous

Kieron and Ali start where they left off yesterday, back on the herbaceous border cutting it down.

The remaining plant supports are removed and the soaker hose rolled up and put away for the winter, due to the wet spring and summer the hose was never used.

The cut down herbaceous material is raked off the border and taken to the compost heap, mixed with the leaves being collected by the ride on mower from the Nuffield lawn this autumn, the resulting leaf mould will return to the border next year as a mulch.

Now both borders are clear the mulching begins.

Callum joins Kieron and Ali for the morning to help with the mulching and by the end of the day they reach the place where they started the day, the mulching of the remainder of the border will finish tomorrow.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Herbaceous Cut Back

As another year draws to an end it is time to start cutting back herbaceous border displays and mulching them for the winter. The first border to be cut is the herbaceous border in the Nuffield lawn area.

Ali starts working on the border removing all the plant supports that were made in April, see blog entry 4th April 2012 'Don't Forget The Echinacea'. Once removed Simon, using a hedge cutter, cuts down the herbaceous perennials whilst Kieron rakes the cut down material off the border, placing it in the trailer for transporting to the compost heap.

The use of the hedge cutter to cut down the border was trialed for the first time last year, see blog entry 21st November 2011 'Hedge Trimmer or Secateurs' and having cleared the border in record time we now use this method rather than secateurs.

By the end of the day the first border was cleared ready for mulching and they had begun to clear the second.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Sternbergia lutea

Sternbergia lutea
(Winter Daffodil)

As you walk through the archway leading from the bottom of the quad to the Nuffield lawn you are greeted by a bright patch of sunshine. Brightening up the drabbest of autumn days, this beautiful patch of sunshine is from the bright yellow, goblet shaped flowers of the autumn flowering bulb, Sternbergia lutea. 

Friday, 2 November 2012

Two New Areas Of Grass

Sown just a week apart there are two new areas of grass in the college. The first, the area behind the tennis courts, was cleared in September, for photographs of how it used to look, check out blog entry 26th September 2012 'Behind The Tennis Courts'.
The second area of new grass is located in the Goldfish Bowl which had been covered in fleece since early October, see blog entry 4th October 2012 'Egg Shaped Fleece'.

A Welcome Return

They arrived in March and left us at the end of June, see blog entry 19th July 2012 'No Swan Count', but today we were greeted by that wonderful sight of a pair of swans on the lake. (I am only guessing that they are the same pair that spent 4 months with us, but I like to believe they are!)

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Unusual Fruit

Decaisnea fargesii
 (Dead Man's Fingers)

In the Fellow's Garden there is an unusual sight hanging from a multi stemmed shrub. These blue bean pods, rather ugly looking fruit, belong to the Decaisnea fargesii, commonly known as 'Dead Man's Fingers'.

Cyphomandra corymbiflora
 (Hardy Tree Tomato)

In the front quad, up on the top terrace, the Cyphomandra corymbiflora, Hardy Tree Tomato, mentioned in blog entry 29th June 2012  'Tomatoes And Pineapples' has produced its rather unusual looking tomatoes.

Cornus kousa var. chinensis
 (The Chinese Dogwood)

A third unusual fruit can be found at the end of the Ruskin Lane border. Cornus kousa var. chinensis, The Chinese Dogwood, has produced lots of 2-3cm strawberry like fruit.