Thursday, 31 January 2013

Kiwi Fruit 'Jenny'

Actinidia deliciosa 'Jenny' (Kiwi Fruit)
At the bottom of the front quad, in the left hand corner, you will find a Kiwi Fruit that has produced fruit over the last four years. Actinidia deliciosa 'Jenny' is a vigorous, self fertile variety that produces both male and female creamy, white flowers, then fruit. Trained along wires, Simon and Ali no longer need to get out the book 'The Royal Horticultural Society Pruning & Training'  to prune it, a regular sight in January in years gone by. The winter prune is done at the same time as the wisteria and climbing roses, cutting back the laterals to two to three buds beyond where last years fruit were produced. The fruit left on this plant were dropped onto the ground for the wildlife to feed on.   

Pruning Wisteria And Climbing Roses


The team managed to start the winter pruning of the climbers early, see blog entry 'Pruning Begins' 29th November 2012, but with the Christmas break and the recent snowfall the rate of pruning has slowed. Catching up began on Tuesday in the front quad with the pruning of the last few climbing roses on the top terrace, then on to those at the back of the cottages. 

Once the roses had been completed the team focused their attention on the wisteria, the three on the back of the cottages, one over the arch that separates the herbaceous border and the large wisteria at the bottom of the front quad.

After three days of continuous cutting with their secateurs they had made huge inroads into the pruning of the college climbers. Over the next few weeks they will be in the orchard pruning the fruit trees and the Provost's garden pruning the roses. 

Monday, 28 January 2013

Self Assembly Shelving

The potting shed was painted last week as the gardeners were driven indoors by the blanket of snow covering the college grounds. This morning Ali and Graham were given the task to construct the self assembly super shelving system.

Checking first that all the pieces were present; 3 x frame; 16 x beam; 16 x shelves; 6 x plastic top caps and 32 x beam retaining clips, they carefully followed the instructions 'How to build your super shelf'.

By the end of the day the new 'super shelf' had been assembled and the first of the pots moved into their new home.

Friday, 25 January 2013

A Busy, Cold, Week

The college is covered in snow, thawing very slowly due to the low temperatures both during the day and night, what can the gardeners do? The priority is, of course, to keep all the paths clear, so the main daily task is to scatter rock salt before beginning other jobs. But what then? By Thursday Graham, Ady and Callum had cleaned and tidied all four tool/machinery sheds, as well as the pump house and storage shed. The pots and seed trays, to be used for seed sowing in February, were all washed in hot, soapy water by Crystal.

The old truck that was rescued from the skip, now with two new wheels, had four new sides made by Kieron, ready for Ali to use to transport plants around the college. Joss, usually found working on the grass, spend the week with a paint brush in his hand painting the new potting shed before moving on to Simon's office and the tea shed with Ady and Callum.

Snow is also a great time to catch up on paper work, Risk Assessments, COSHH Assessments, seed ordering for this summers display, tool ordering, first aid box checking, ladder inspections, and painting tools so they are stored in the correct tool shed. Hopefully the snow will go over the weekend so the team can go outside and be gardeners again!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A Hint Of Colour

Although the blanket of snow has covered the college grounds there is still a small amount of colour trying to break up the monotony of white. The colourful stems of Salix alba 'Chermesina' reflecting in the water, the orange berries of the Iris foetidissima and the golden yellow stems of the Weeping Willow hanging over the lake.
Salix alba 'Chermesina'

 Iris foetidissima

Weeping Willow

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Footprints and Snow Angels In The Snow


When snow falls and settles, as it did over the last few days, there is an urge to run, slide and make snow angels in the wonderful, thick, white blanket. However, there are two areas that are out of bounds, with or without snow on them, the quad lawn and the banks. Unfortunately the temptation was too hard to resist, as can be seen in the photograph above.
What damage can be done when walking on snow covered grass? Walking on grass covered in snow compacts the snow creating a small insulating layer beneath every footprint, or in this case, half a dozen, large areas of snow angels. These compacted areas stay colder as the soil begins to warm up and start to defrost. The increased time under snow and ice could allow snow mold, a fungus, to develop. Walking on frozen grass also causes the blades of grass to break, all this damage will increase the time Joss will have to spend on the grass to repair it, and spraying it with chemicals, in order to have the stunning lawn that is seen in the summer, as the signs say  'Keep Off The Grass'.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Three Snowmen

With snow comes the arrival of snowmen around the college grounds. Three were found following Friday's snowfall, the largest, was found on the orchard.

The second snowman had walked up the stairs at the back of the Provost's lodgings, and the third, wearing a blue scarf, a big smile, and a welcome wave, was found in front of the pavilion.

Friday, 18 January 2013

The Predicted Snow Arrives

The heavy snowfall predicted today started at 9:00am this morning, quickly settled and continued to fall throughout the day.
The gardeners, our volunteer, the groundsmen and the maintenance team spent the day clearing the snow from the paths and scattering them with rock salt to reduce the build up of ice.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Oh What Stories This Tree Could Tell!

Worcester College has a few very large, very old, Plane trees in the grounds. Believed to be a few hundred years old, one such tree can be found in the middle of the lake side border. Ivy had started to creep up the wide trunck and needed to be removed. Simon and Ady cleared the ivy but couldn't resist standing amongst the huge branches, oh what stories this tree could tell!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Opening Up The View

Another perfect job to keep the team warm was to start the clearance and tidy up of the lake side border in order to open up the view that has, for so long, been blocked out by large overgrown shrubs. The first task was to remove an old Willow tree that had recently fallen into the lake. Too heavy for the team to lift out, the New Holland tractor with the grap attachment had to be used lift it carefully out. The tree was then chopped up into sections and placed at the back of the border on the Broadwalk to create a new log pile for the insects and small mammals of Worcester college to live in.
The team worked their way along the border, with what felt like every tool from the tool shed. Every kind of chopping implement was used to cut back the large overgrown shrubs, tree saplings were dug out and leaves raked out.
All the woody, cut down material was taken down to the chipper and chipped into a ornamental wood chip mulch. The leaves were take down to the compost heaps and any unusable weedy material taken to the skip.
By the end of the day the first third of the border view had been opened up. In the coming weeks the remaining two thirds will be tidied but the shrubs not cut back so hard, the hard cut back will happen over the next few winters as the project to restore the view continues.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Potting On

With the temperatures outside still freezing, and the ditch cleared yesterday, Ali, Callum and Graham spent the first few hours of the morning potting on half the cuttings taken last September.

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Perfect Way To Keep Warm

In freezing temperatures and falling snow the team, along with the groundsmen, went looking for a job to keep them warm, they ended up clearing out the ditch that runs around the sports field. A contradiction in terms, trying to keep warm and working in a ditch in freezing temperatures with a few inches of water in it, but it really did keep the team warm, apart from those who weren't wearing wellington boots or had newly discovered holes in their shoes. Raking and forking out wet, heavy leaves and debis from the ditch into wheelbarrows and trucks for transportation down to the compost heaps was the perfect way to keep warm.

Friday, 11 January 2013

To Enhance The Winter Reflection

Having planted the trees in the morning, Ali and Graham moved on to work on the border next to the weir. Working at the waters edge, the marginal plants needed to be cut down. The marginals were planted when the weir was reconstructed in September 2010 and the Iris pseudacorus (Yellow Flag Iris) flowered for the first time last year, see blog entry 8th June 2012 'Marginals In Flower'. The reason for this cut down was to allow the Salix and Cornus, see blog entry 23rd April 2012 'Turf & Bark', to reflect their stunning winter colours onto the still water on these warm, sunny winter days.

Parrotia persica 'Vanessa'

Over the last two days six new trees have been planted in the college grounds. Graham and Ali spent time this morning planting one of these trees, Parrotia persica 'Vanessa', Persian Ironwood. Supplied in a 65 litre bag, the Parrotia, dormant at the moment, is a medium sized tree, reaching a height of 10-15 metres on maturity. Chosen for its stunning autumn colour it is a welcome addition to the Nuffield Lawn. The other five trees planted were Quercus coccinea (Scarlet Oak), Taxodium distichum (Swamp Cypress), Sequoiadendron giganteum Glauca (Giant Sequoia) and 2 Malus 'Evereste' (Crab Apple).

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

50 Meters Of Wire

Over the last few days Graham and Ali have been adding new wires and replacing old wire for some of the climbing plants on the college buildings and walls. The biggest task was to add three new rows of wire for the Vitis coignetiae, Crimson Glory Vine, that is up against the wall of the staircase 24 block of the Ruskin Building accomodation. A Ladder, battery drill, rawl plugs, vine eyes, turn buckles, wire cutters and 50 meters of 1.6mm galvanised wire, the complete kit for providing new support for the college climbing plants.

Post And Rail Fence

The first new project of the year has continued, a new yew hedge has been planted and the area levelled in preparation for grass seed to be sown in the Spring. Starting yesterday, a new post and rail fence has been constructed around the Provost's garage.

Friday, 4 January 2013

A Further Section Of Yew Hedge

Sometimes projects can feel finished but are never truely completed. Almost two years ago, an old privet hedge was removed and replaced with a new yew hedge, see blog entries 'Privet Hedge' 14th March 2011, '70 Yew In One Day' 11th April 2011 'The Last Section' 18th April 2011, 'Where Did We Put It?' 21st April 2011. Well, now that three Leylandii have been removed and the last section of privet removed, a further section of yew has been planted. The end of the yew hedge project, that remains to be seen.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Campsis radicans

Campsis radicans is a vigorous, self clinging, woody, deciduous climber which produces clusters of red trumpet shaped flowers on the current years growth in late summer to early autumn. Pruned by the team at this time of year, along with all the climbing roses and wisteria, last years growth is cut back to a pair of buds. However, the Campsis above the door to the Provost's garden, located in the right hand corner of the front quad, has had a radical prune by Ali, (hence her nick name, Radical Ali). Last year Simon did a test prune on one of the old branches and, as it responded well to this test, it was decided that the remainder of the climber could also be pruned in this manner. (The reason for this, some might say drastic pruning, is that it had got too tall and beyond the safe reach of the ladders when working over the spiked railings.) Under Simon's instruction, Ali radically pruned the Campsis.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

First New Project Of The Year

Not slow at getting going in the new gardening year, the team have immediately started a new project in an unkempt corner of the garden. Towards the end of last year three large Leylandii trees were removed and the area they had occupied left abondoned until now. The first task of this new project was to remove an old, tired privet hedge and replace with a new yew hedge. Rather than dig it out using manual labour and brute force, the New Holland tractor with the grap attachment was used to rip it out. The project will continue over the coming weeks.

Welcome To Worcester College Gardens 2013

Happy New Year to all our reader and followers, and best wishes for 2013.
Fresh from a two week break, following the college shut down, the team returned, to what I am sure, will be another busy year in the Worcester College Gardens. The blog will continue to record these activities throughout the coming twelve months, so keep reading and leaving your comments.