Thursday, 28 March 2013

Sowing Seeds And Pricking Out

The first of this years seeds, those that are slower to germinate and grow, were sown a month ago, see blog entry 'It's Cold Outside', 22nd February 2013. This morning, Ali, Crystal and Anna sowed all the faster germinating seeds such as Cosmos, Nicotiana, Thunbergia, Tagetes and Gazania. By lunch time the mist unit was full, the left side with todays sowings and the right with those from February, the first of which, the Pelargoniums have germinated and grown sufficiently to be pricked out today.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

From Decking To Shingle


Following an afternoon of education at the Oxford Botanic Gardens yesterday, Kieron, Ali, Graham and Anna returned to the project they started in the morning. With all the rotten wood removed to the skip, the area was raked level in preparation for the next step, shingle.

The first sheet of weed suppressing membrane was laid in the far corner and the first three wheelbarrow loads of, what would eventually be, a few tonnes of shingle spread on top. Whilst the corner was being worked on, Kieron removed a layer of bricks from around the drain to drop its height, resetting the frame and replacing the cover.

Two further lengths of membrane were then laid over the soil and pegged down using biodegradable turf pegs.

The rest of the shingle was then spread over the membrane to create a new, low maintenance area of shingle, an amazing transformation in just two mornings!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Visit To The University Of Oxford Botanic Gardens

(R-L) Simon, Ali, Kieron, Anna, Callum, Graham, Joss, Ady
The team spent the afternoon visiting the University of Oxford Botanic Garden. Thank you Tom for the very enjoyable tour, a pleasure as always.

Breaking Up Decking


In the back garden of one of the college properties is an area of decking that has become rotten and unsafe.

Kieron, Ali, Graham and Anna spent the morning cutting up the decking boards with a Makita reciprocating saw and then smashing it up with sledge hammers.

Once the top had been demolished, Simon joined them with the chainsaw to cut up the inner framework consisting of the long joists and the shorter noggins.

All the old, rotten wood was removed to the skip and, due to a planned visit to the University of Oxford Botanic Gardens in the afternoon, the team will have to return tomorrow morning to complete the transformation from an area of decking to a shingle garden.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Hazel Binders And Shingle

The team returned to the Broadwalk this morning, not just to complete the weaving of the new hazel binders, but to add a top dressing of 10 tonnes of shingle to the path. Once again the New Holland tractor with the grab attachment was used to break up the compacted path before the shingle was spread on it. It was only three years ago that 11 tonnes of shingle was added to the Broadwalk as a top dressing, see blog entry '11 Tonnes Of Shingle', 10th February 2010, where does it all go?

By the end of the day the weaving was complete with a new, clean shingle path in front of it, only the far end of the Broadwalk still needs new shingle, another 3 to 4 tonnes are due to be delivered on Wednesday.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Weaving Hazel On The Broadwalk

The hazel binders that edge the borders of the Broadwalk have become very brittle since they were last replaced three to four years ago. Today the team set about replacing the tired, old hazel with new fresh hazel binders.    

Working on the first section, they removed the binders from the front of the border and took them down to the chipper pile to be chipped.

The soil from behind the chestnut stakes was then dug away to make room for the new binders, replacing any rotten stakes with new hazel stakes as well as adding a few extra where space allowed.

The hazel binders, approximately 9-10 feet long, were then woven along the front of the border to create a natural looking edge.

Thursday, 21 March 2013



Whilst the hard landscaping was being completed in front of the new winter themed border, Simon and Ali planted large clumps of Hellebore in a variety of colours. The border, started on the 12th March, see blog entry 'Border Alterations', is now complete and looks wonderful, and will only get better as winters come and go.

Another 6 Tonnes Of Hoggin

With the stone edge completed on Tuesday, following the amendment of the straight edge to a curve, the hoggin arrived this morning to repair the path. First the New Holland tractor, with the grab attachment, was used to break up the path.

Once the path had been broken up the grab was removed from the front of the tractor and the hydraulic trailer attached to the back. The hoggin was then tipped onto the path, shovelled and then raked to create a slight camber, a raised centre which sheds water to each side.

The wacker plate was then used to compact the hoggin and complete another restored path, that's 32 tonnes of hoggin laid so far this year to restore two paths in the college.


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Salix sepulcralis 'Chrysocoma' (Golden Weeping Willow)

On the 16th January the team spent the day working on the lakeside border removing overgrown shrubs and an old willow tree that had fallen into the lake, see blog entry 'Opening Up The View'. A new Golden Weeping Willow, Salix sepulcralis 'Chrysocoma' was planted today, next to where the old one had once stood. The new willow is a fast growing deciduous tree with narrow pale green leaves on yellow pendent stems producing yellow catkins in April, a beautiful addition to the lakeside border.

An Amendment To The Stone Edging

The stone edge along the front of the new winter themed border in the Provost' garden was finished last Thursday morning. On Friday a large laurel was removed from the front corner and, because of this, a slight problem was identified, the edge was too straight, not enough curve! This morning Kieron and Anna made the amendment.

Removing the offending stones they marked out the new curve and carefully relaid them all.

The new shape now matches the stone edge opposite, all that remains to be done is to repair the path with a new layer of hoggin.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Cutting Down The Ornamental Grasses

Twelve months ago the team planted grasses in two newly transformed borders up at the college's Canal Building site, see blog entry '113 Grasses & A New Stone Edge' dated 22nd March 2012. Those grasses are now ready for their first cut down, having given a lovely display during the late summer/autumn period.

Ali and Sophie were given the task to cut them down, and as planned when they were planted, a hedge cutter was used rather than secateurs and shears. The debris was cleared to the compost heaps and a new layer of wood chippings, from the chipper pile, placed on the borders.

Friday, 15 March 2013

A Winter Border In The Provost's Garden

Ali and Anna return to the new border in the Provost's garden to remove a number of shrubs that are blocking the view to the lake and the bridge. Planting has already begun in the new, winter themed border, Cornus alba 'Sibirica Variegata', Hellebore and Primula.

Joined by Crystal, and with help from Simon, three Viburnum opulus and a rather large Laurel, that had to be reduced in size before its removal, are dug up and transferred to another area in the gardens and replanted.

Ali and the replanted Laurel

Cyclamen Coum

With the hard work of digging up and replanting of shrubs completed, the afternoon was spent adding soil and leaf mould to the large holes created in the morning and the less strenuous task of planting Cyclamen coum.

Four days after the team gathered in the Provost's garden and started to remove the old stone edging in front of a tired, old border, the picture below shows a new, fresh, winter border with views of the lake and the bridge.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

A Busy Morning And An Afternoon Visit

This morning two jobs were completed that were started over the last few days. Anna and Kieron finish the new stone edge in the Provost's garden, whilst Ali levels the border behind it, making it ready for planting.

Ady and Graham level the border that was single dug yesterday making it ready for planting too.

In the afternoon the team enjoy a visit to Lady Margaret Hall. Thank you to Ben, the Head Gardener, who gave up his time to show us around the lovely gardens.

R-L, Graham, Ady, Simon, Ben, Kieron, Callum, Anna, (Ali taking the photo)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Border Clearance And Preparation

Ady and Callum start the day working on a border at the front of the Linbury Building removing the old shrubs that have out grown the small area.

Once removed the area is raked through to clear away all the leaf debris ready for it to be forked through.

With Callum at college in the afternoon, Ady is joined by Ali, Kieron, Graham and Anna to continue the work on the border. Forking it through they carefully remove all the old roots left in the soil from the removed shrubs.

To improve the soil and prepare it for planting they single dig the area. Starting at the back of the border Ady and Kieron dig a trench to a spades depth, known as a 'spit'.

Graham fills the wheelbarrows with leaf mould for Anna and Ali to transport from the truck to the trenches.

The first trench is filled with leaf mould then, working from the back to the front, another trench is dug, placing the soil from the newer trench on to the previous trench, continuing the process until the whole area has been dug. The levelling will take place tomorrow.