Thursday, 28 February 2013

Path Restoration Completed


First thing in the morning the final delivery of hoggin arrives, 6 tonnes, enough to complete the path restoration. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday morning, 26 tonnes and a newly restored path, hard work but well worth it.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

No Longer Getting Soaked!


Taking a welcome break from hard landscaping and the raking of 20 tonnes of hoggin, Ali leaves the landscape rakes and shovels in the tool shed today and reacquaints herself with her secateurs, a lopper and the long reach hedge cutter. The shrubs that overhang the path by the tool sheds, that the team have been working on over the last two days, need cutting back as, when wet and knocked by the tractor roll bars, soak the member of the team that is driving the aforementioned tractor!
Once Ali had finished cutting back and cleared away all the debris to the chipping pile, Graham took advantage of the newly emerged path to go over the hoggin that was laid on Monday with the wacker plate.

Rotovating And Soil Preparation


Yesterday, whilst the rest of the team was spreading hoggin over the old path, Joss spent a few hours working in the Provost's garden rotovating the area that had been stripped of grass last Thursday. With the hoggin due tomorrow to complete the path restoration, a delivery of 6 tonnes of top soil was received this morning.

Having stripped all the old, mossy grass away last week, see blog entry 'Turf Stripping And Wood Chippings', the level of the soil needed to be raised before it can be grass seeded. Joss and Callum spent the morning shovelling, treading down and raking level all 6 tonnes of soil to a fine tilth.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Path Restoration

During the recent periods of heavy rain, snow and flooding the path in front of the tool sheds, that leads to the Broadwalk, has become increasing muddy and is in need of restoration. Yesterday morning Ady, using the grab attachment on the New Holland tractor, broke up the path's surface before the delivery of 10 tonnes of hoggin.

Over the day several trailer loads of hoggin were tipped onto the path and raked to form a slight camber, a raised centre which sheds water to each side. Once all 10 tonnes had been raked onto the path the wacker plate was used to compact the hoggin.

Today a further 10 tonnes of hoggin was delivered and the process repeated. On the section of the path that was particularly low, rubble was used to build the paths camber and compacted with the wacker plate before the hoggin was added.

By the end of this, our second day, 20 tonnes of hoggin had been used to restore two sections of the path, but the third section around, the area where an old diseased tree had recently been removed, see blog entry 20th February 2013 'Where a Tree Once Stood', still needed to be completed. The team will have to wait till Thursday to complete the task when a further 6 tonnes of hoggin is due to be delivered.

Friday, 22 February 2013

It's Cold Outside


With a bitterly cold wind blowing outside it is the perfect day for working in a warm greenhouse. March is fast approaching and the slower germinating seeds need to be sown. Our Friday volunteer, Crystal, under Ali's tuition, sows some of the seeds that will create the plants for this years summer display.
In the afternoon Ali, having noticed the first signs of whitefly in the greenhouse, sprays a bug killer to prevent an infestation.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Turf Stripping and Wood Chippings

Returning to the new chicken area created yesterday, the team start the day by stripping off the very mossy turf.

Using edging irons to cut the turf into squares and turfing irons to remove it they methodically work their way along.

The removed turf is placed grass side down, soil side up, on the area that will be covered in wood chippings, using it to create a level surface, filling up any dips and hollows.

In the afternoon, joined by Callum and Kieron who have finished the stone edge, five trailer loads of wood chippings are dumped and levelled on the area. (The wood chipping are from all the wood that has been chipped over the last few years, mentioned many times on the blog and now finally being used in the gardens.) Tomorrow a few more trailer loads will be added to the area and the remaining turf stripped.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Preparing For The Chickens

Whilst Kieron and Callum build the new stone edge, the rest of the team start to clear an area in the corner of the Provost's garden in preparation for the arrival of chickens next week.

The New Holland tractor with the grab attachment is used to tear out all the old shrubs and their roots. The woody material is taken to the chipper pile to be chipped at a later date.

The grap is then used to rip out the ivy which is then taken to the skip. Once cleared the grab is used to break up and drag the soil around the area, then raked by the team until a level bed is created. (What a wonderful tractor attachment the grab is!)

Where A Tree Once Stood

A diseased Chestnut tree has recently been removed and left an empty area where it once stood. The problems caused by its roots have been rectified, see blog entry 8th February 2013 'An Unexpected Day', so yesterday Kieron and Callum removed the old metal edge and started to replace it with stone.

Reducing the size of the area slightly, making the surrounding path wider and easier to drive the tractors around, they carefully choose each stone and lay them on a haunched bed of concrete. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Log Splitting

In freezing temperatures and a thick frost on the grass this morning, Graham and Ali had to delay the pruning of one of the last apple trees and find another job to keep them occupied until conditions improved. Log splitting was the perfect job to keep them warm.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Kingfishers and A Goosander

Kingfisher (female)

Since December 2009, see blog entry 'A Fox And A Kingfisher', Ali has been hoping to capture images of the Kingfishers that visit the lake and today she succeeded. Concealing herself in the lakeside border to photograph the female Goosander, see below, she heard the call of the Kingfisher followed by three, yes three, Kingfishers flying past and landing on the overhanging branches on the other side of the lake. At last, a chance to capture these beautiful birds on camera.
The female Goosander has been on the lake since the 28th January, arriving in a small group but has since been left behind. A second group of six Goosander arrived on the 11th February, three male and three female, but again she has been left behind. (For previous arrival dates of the Goosander see blog entry dated 18th February 2012 'Goosanders Are Back 2012').

Goosander (female)

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Toro Hoverpro 450

The grass on the banks in the front quad has looked long for a few days but the early morning frosts have prevented it from being mown. Today the conditions improved so the bank mower, Toro Hoverpro 450, was brought out for the second time this year. Designed to hover and cut on slopes of up to 45 degrees, it is perfect for cutting the banks. The two man team use rope to guide it along the slope, a sight that stops many a visitor in their tracks.


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Monster Rose 1

Before (2013)

Six years ago Simon and Ali set their sights on a very tangled, very overgrown and very thorny climbing rose they came to affectionately call 'Monster  Rose 1', the first of a few old roses around the college grounds that needed a lot of attention. They decided the best way to rejuvenate the rose was to untie it from its wire supports, leaving it to lay flat on the ground. Additional wire supports were put in place, as well as replacing all the old wire, creating a new, sturdier support framework. Carefully choosing young flexible stems they tied them up along the new wires, cutting out all the unwanted stems. For five days they worked on the rose, scratched and with pieces of thorns in their fingers and hands, they created a newly shaped climbing rose. 

After (2013)

For the last few days, Ali and Graham have been giving Monster Rose 1 its annual prune, shortening the laterals, removing old stems, replacing them with younger stems and tying them to the wires, creating a framework that should last another few years.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Preparing The Mist Unit


With the time to sow seeds fast approaching the mist unit was in need of a good clean. The wooden frame and plastic surround were washed down with hot soapy water, then attention was turned to the watering system. With Legionella in mind, Ali disconnected the hose from the tap and the water pump, then removed the mist jets, pouring boiling water through the system to kill any harmful bacteria. The jets were cleaned and once put back together the watering system was tested with cold water from the tap, running it through the hose, the water pump and out through the mist jets. To finish the clean, the top inch of sand was removed and replaced with new horticultural silver sand. The mist unit is now ready and waiting for the seed sowing to start.

More Snow


The team arrived at work this morning to new another blanket of snow but this time it was not enough to cause disruption. The snow plough, shovels and salt remained locked away and the paths were brushed clear as the snow began to melt.

Friday, 8 February 2013

'Please Keep Off The Bulb Area'


The snowdrops are pushing through the soil rapidly and the area on the Nuffield Lawn, beneath the Beech, Yew and Hornbeam is starting to look spectacular. Signs have been put in place in the hope that this area is no longer used as a short cut, please walk around the snowdrop area rather than through it.

An Unexpected Day


The day started with Simon walking past the lake on his way to the machinery sheds. As he walked past he noticed that the water level in the lake was low, so opened up the sluice gate that connects the canal with the lake to top it up. Noticing that the flow of water was very slow he decided to investigate. As can be seen by the following set of photographs, it wasn't a small problem!

Rodding was unsuccessful, so the channel that runs from the canal sluice gate to the lake had to be unearthed. The discovery, and the reason for the poor water flow, tree roots, and lots of them.

The roots had been growing through the channel for years and now needed to be removed, the deseased tree they belonged to has recently been removed. 

Once all the roots had been removed the channel was again covered with the slabs, a new membrane and the old hoggin.

By the end of an unexpected day all that could be seen of the team's endevours was a raked path, a few bollards and tape.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

'Tree Cutting'


This years fruit tree pruning has continued over the last few days resulting in the top orchard's trees having been completed. The trees that overhang the footpaths are pruned very carefully, always having the students and staff in mind, placing out barriers and warning signs to protect passers by. The team will move on to the bottom orchard tomorrow to prune the remainder of the fruit trees, hopefully finishing by the end of the week.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Fruit Tree Pruning


It's that time of year again when the team are joined by Chris Lanczak, the Orchard Manager from Waterperry Gardens, for the annual gathering around the fruit trees to begin pruning. The project to reduce the size of the trees began in the winter of 2009, see blog entry 'The Great Apple Prune Begins' dated 28th February and has continued annually under Chris' expert guidance and tuition.

Following last years poor summer, the fruit trees put all their energy into growth rather than crop production resulting in a lot of pruning for the team this year. If you need to find the gardeners during the next week they can found up in the trees.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

The 5th Year Begins

Front Quad

Four years ago,  the gardeners thought it might be a nice idea to keep a blog, following the activites of the team as they look after the gardens of Worcester College. The first entry was on Monday 2nd February 2009 and 689 posts later, 59000 page views, the blog starts its fifth year. Thank you to all our followers and members, for all the positive comments recieved via the blog, email or in person, the fifth year starts here. The photograph above is of the front quad and the wonderful lawn as it looks today, an image I never get tired of, inspiring!