Thursday, 19 December 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Another busy year in the gardens is complete and the team are taking a well earned break over the festive period, returning on the 2nd January 2014.
The team would like to thank you all for your continued support and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New year. Next year will be another busy year as the team prepare the gardens to celebrate the college's Tercentenary Year, 1714-2014. 

2000 Bulbs Are Waiting

Having planted 1000 Scilla siberica in November, see blog entry for the 21st, another 1000 bulbs were delivered this afternoon along with 1000 Chionodoxa luciliae. Arriving too late to be planted this year due to college shut down, 2000 bulbs now await the team when they return on the 2nd.

In Need Of A New Home

As with last year, the Christmas Tree from the Pump Quad is in need of a good home over the festive period, see blog entry 19th december 2012, 'Free To A Good Home'. This year the tree is even bigger so will take some moving to its new home, but after several hours, the tree finally dissappeared from outside the college. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all the gardening team at Worcester College.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Giant Leaf Of The Chinese Parasol Tree

There are few trees in the gardens that are still dropping their leaves. One such tree is the Chinese Parasol Tee, Firmiana simplex, which has giant leaves. The photograph below shows two of the giant leaves in comparison to Beech leaves and Oak leaves, but to truly appreciate the size you will need a tape measure. From the tip of the leaf to its base measures 17 inches, from leaf tip to the base of the petiole, the stalk that attaches the leaf to the stem of the plant measures 30 inches, and from its widest margins it measures 20 inches across,  a true giant amongst leaves.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Seven Christmas Santa Hats

It's the last week of work for the team before the Christmas break begins. Dressed in their Christmas Santa hats, Graham's hat plays a Christmas song whilst the rest of the team have just flashing pom poms, they have spent the last two days in the Provost's garden.

Yesterday was spent pruning the many old fashion roses that fill the ten beds, as well as clearing all the autumn leaf fall that still covered the soil. Today was spent planting two hundred tulips bulbs into the beds, 100 'China Pink' and 100 'National Velvet', adding to the few hundred already in the beds from previous year's plantings.

Once all the bulbs had been planted, the beds were forked through, weeded and edged. Whilst the rose beds were titivated, Joss gave the big lawn its last cut before he applies a winter granular feed tomorrow.

Friday, 13 December 2013

A Christmas Visit To Merton College

With the Christmas break fast approaching, the team spent a few hours spreading Christmas cheer to their friends, and fellow gardeners, at Merton College. Founded in 1264, the college will be celebrating their 750th anniversary next year so, as with the team here at Worcester and next year's 300th anniversary, it will be a very busy time as they prepare the gardens for the year of celebrations. Thank you to Lucille and your team for your hospitality, best wishes for next year.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

A Refocus On Pruning The Climbers

With best intentions the team started to prune the climbing plants in the front quad earlier than previous years, hoping to get a head start, as well as taking advantage of the warm temperatures felt this autumn, see blog entry 31st October 'One Month Earlier Than Last Year'. However, since that blog entry at the end of October, no further pruning of the climbers has taken place, as the team have had to focus their attention on leaf clearing instead. This autumn the leaves seem to have taken a very long time to fall, but steady enough to need clearing constantly from the college grounds. Now that the leafing is finished, well almost, time can now be made for the pruning of the climbers on the top terrace, in fact, four days have been spent this week, enough time to complete the task started so long ago. 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Great British Garden Revival

The BBC have confirmed that the 10 part series 'Great British Garden Revival' will start on Monday 9th December at 7:00pm on BBC 2. The episode that will feature the quad lawn of Worcester College will be broadcast on Wednesday 8th January 2014.(See blog entry 30th August, 'Great Garden Revival')

8 January AT 7:00PM
In her revival, Sarah Raven investigates why the British are so proud of their lawns. She visits Worcester College Oxford, to catch a glimpse of lawn perfection and talks to author Tom Fort about the lawn's history and why it has fallen from favour. She visits the winner of Britain’s best lawn competition and discovers a radical new approach to growing lawns, with the world's first 'floral lawn' - composed solely of flowering and foliage plants, without a blade of grass in sight! With the help of a family of four, she also road-tests three types of lawn: a wild flower meadow, traditional grass and fake grass - with surprising results. The grandeur of Polesden Lacey - with its vast expanse of lawn - is the central location for Sarah’s revival, as she shows us how to keep our lawns in tip top condition; how to inject a splash of colour into grass by naturalising bulbs; and how to deal with those irritating bald patches in the lawn, which are the blight of every gardener.

Friday, 6 December 2013

580 Bottles, Sold Out

Sold Out, 580 bottles of the Worcester College Apple & Pear Juice 2013. Thank you to all the staff, students, fellows, family and friends that have brought the juice this year, and for your continued support of this venture that has been steadily growing since it began in 2009.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Billy Goat Leaf Vacuum

Once a week Callum takes the giant Billy Goat vacuum cleaner to the netball court to suck up the leaves. Unfortunately the task had to be abandoned today as the swirling, westerly wind was blowing the leafs in all directions, making it impossible to vacuum them up. Mother Nature seemed to be having so much fun, waiting for Callum to clear a section of the court and, as he turned the Billy Goat around to clear the next, she blew leaves back all over it!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Two Days In The Ditch

The leaf clearing opporation has moved into the ditch that surrounds the sports field, the overflow for the lake. Usually done on a freezing cold day in January, the team spent the last two days, unusally warm for December, using leaf blowers, leaf grabs, rakes and pitch forks getting the leaves out of the ditch.

On the canal side, the leaves, once out of the ditch are blown up against the hedge, the Nelson Street side are blown up against the boundary wall and at the top end of the sportsfield they are removed to the gigantic leaf piles.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Hot & Spicy, With A Slice Of Orange

The 10 feet high, Norwegian Spruce Christmas tree has arrived and been put up in the Pump Quad using the new tree support built by Ady, see blog entry 18th November 'A Permanent Support For The Christmas Tree'.

Decorated this year by the gardeners, the decorations consist of yellow chilli peppers (grown by the gardeners), red chilli peppers (from India via Tesco), and dried slices of orange, (courtesy of the college chefs).

The unusual decorations have received a large number of positive comments from both students and staff, a new tradition in natural decorations has begun, lots more chilli peppers to be grown for next year.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Salix alba ssp. vitellina 'Yelverton'

On Tuesday, an area of overgrown shrubs and self seeded Sycamore tree saplings, at the far end of The Broadwalk, was cleared ready for it to be replanted yesterday.  

The new planting, four willow trees of the same variety, Salix alba ssp. vitellina 'Yelverton'. This variety, according to the label, has "A rich bronze-red coloured stem, height after 10 years up to 6 meters. Produces yellow or yellow-green catkins in spring". The result, a clear, open view across the lake providing both winter and spring interest.

Tree Hugging. (L-R) Kieron, Ady and Graham

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

'Spring Green' Not 'Spring Pink'

A year ago 50 Tulips, Spring Green in colour, were planted in the Serpentine Border but when they flowered in May they were all pink, see blog entry 13th May 'The Wrong Tulips'. The replacements have arrived, double the amount, but before they can be planted the perennial planting has to be cut down, although the grasses will be left until March. Hopefully when the 100 tulips flower next year they will be 'Spring Green' and not 'Spring Pink'!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Beautiful Beech

This photograph was taken in the Provost's Garden on Tuesday, the sun was setting and its fading light shone on beech tree as the day ended.

A Very Leafy Week

With the drop in temperatures, and overnight frosts, the leaves have been falling at an increased rate, testing the leaf clearing skills of the team. The ride-on-mowers, rakes, blowers, leaf pickers and even a Billy Goat have been used. 

The Billy Goat, not the animal, but a leaf vacuum, is used on the hard surface of the netball court at the far end of the sports field.

The leaves that fall into the lake are left in the water, providing some rest bite from picking up all the fallen leaves, no boat required, thankfully.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

1000 Scilla siberica

Simon, Graham and Ali spent a few hours today planting 1000 Scilla siberica bulbs under trees on the Nuffield lawn. Over the last five years thousands of snowdrops have been planted in the same area so, with the addition of these new bulbs, the white flowers, in February-March, will now be replaced by blue flowers in March-April.

These Scilla bulbs are perfect for naturalising and will spread beneath the trees, as well as being added to over the next three to four years, 1000 at a time.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

It's Happening Again!

It happened last week on the herbaceous border, again on Monday in the Goldfish Bowl, yesterday in front of the cottages and now it's happening in the Provost's Rose Garden! Using the hedge trimmer, shears and secateurs, the team have been working their way through the borders containing herbaceous perennials and cutting them down. Two borders are now left, The Serpentine in the Ruskin Building courtyard and the Gravel Garden in front of the Earl Building/Gloucester House building. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A Cold And Windy Spot

As the title of this blog entry suggests, the day for cutting down the herbaceous plants in front of the cottages was once again 'cold and windy'. Rarely warm, apart from 2011, Ali and Graham braved the bitterly cold wind, cutting down the Geranium 'Sue Crug', Anemone x hybrida and Alchemilla mollis leaving the Skimmia x confusa 'Kew Green' to provide the winter display.

Monday, 18 November 2013

A Permanent Support For The Christmas Tree

A Christmas tree was placed in the Pump Quad last year for the first time and, following the many positive comments received, another tree has been ordered for this year, see blog entries 26th November 2012 'Christmas Is Coming' and 13th December 2012 'Santa's Little Helpers'.  Preparations were made today for a more permanent method of support, rather than placing it in a pot. Ady dug a hole in the centre of the quad, put a wide pipe in the middle and cemented it in, hiding this by covering it up with a slab. Until the tree arrives, the display pot that usually occupies the centre of the quad, will remain in place and then moved when the new support is required.  

Thursday, 14 November 2013

A New Colour Scheme Of Tulips

Four years ago, November 2009, tulips were planted in the herbaceous border for the first time. The colours white, orange and red were the first, followed by purple and pink the following year. In the subsequent years, additional amounts of these colours have been added, all in the hope to recreate the colours seen in the summer. However, the resulting display is not as Simon had hoped for, so a change has be planned, starting today.

New colours of tulips have been chosen, 'Black Hero', 'Purple Dream' and 'China Pink, 750 in total, split between the two borders. The 15 packets were opened and emptied into two trugs and then mixed.

The team then spent a few hours planting the new tulip mix, but will have to wait until May to see if this new colour scheme is successful. The old tulips, unable to dig them all up, having been buried under numerous layers of thick mulch, will have to be cut down as they flower in order to weaken the bulb until they all eventually stop flowering.