Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Lawn Repairs

For the last six weeks the front of the college has had scaffolding erected around it whilst the window frames were painted. The scaffolding has now been taken down but the wooden boards, that were placed on the lawn, have caused some damage which need to be repaired. Joss has filled in the dead areas with soil, scattered grass seed over it and, hopefully, within a few weeks, the lawn will be green again, with no signs that scaffolding had ever been there.

I Am Banana Man, No I Am Banana Man!

I am Banana Man, no I am Banana Man!

A sight very rarely seen, two men in yellow suits! Banana Man's true identity was discovered in May 2009, see blog entry 'Banana Man', but today a second person was claiming to be him. Over the years others have donned the yellow suit and have tried to pass themselves of as this super hero, see blog entry 22nd August 2011 'Team Work', but all are imposters. (In this picture the imposter is on the left.)  These men in yellow suits are spraying weed killer on the weeds in the path around the quad, using a sheet of plastic to protect the grass from any drifting chemical.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Magnolia 'Manchu Fan'

The first of a number of Magnolia recently planted in the college gardens, this stunning Magnolia is 'Manchu Fan'. This young shrub is covered in medium sized, sweetly scented, white goblet shaped flowers with a purplish tinge at the base. Already a favourite amongst the gardeners, this photograph even shows the 'Manchu Fan' shape in shadow.

Baskets and Tulips

Last year, following the very warm March, the birch plant supports were made during the first week of April amongst the flowering tulips, see blog entry 4th April 'Don't Forget The Echinacea'. This year, following a very cold March, the making of the plant supports, the baskets, has started three weeks later. Carefully tiptoeing through the tulips, the first baskets to be made are to support the Acanthus, many more baskets will be made to support the other plants over the coming weeks.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Herbicide, Proliance Quattro

As a holder of the PA1 and PA6 Certificate of Competance In The Safe Use of Pesticides, Ali was able to supervise Callum in the use of pesticides today, the first time he had ever used a knapsack sprayer. Over the last few weeks the weeds have grown rapidly in the warm spring weather, so spraying them with a weed killer, before they set seed, had become a necessity. The preferred weedkiller the gardeners use is the herbicide 'Proliance Quattro'. Sprayed onto the leaves with a knapsack sprayer it is then translocated throughout the plant, controlling all parts including roots, rhizomes or stolons, killing the weed over a few days or weeks, depending on the weed type.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Cut Flowers

The bulbs that were planted in the cut flower bed back in October, see blog entry 9th October 'Cut Flower Bed', are now starting to flower and in need of cutting.

The daffodils, Narcissus 'Sweet Love' and Tulip 'Triumph' are making a very colourful display, but the beautiful blooms have been grown for a purpose, to be cut.

Cut in to groups of a dozen stems, each bunch is tied and then delivered to the Provost's lodgings and to members of staff.

An Abandoned Nest

A week ago the nest pictured above was occupied by a Canada Goose incubating 3 eggs, sadly the nest has been abandoned and the eggs gone. The adults are still residing in the college grounds, but for the second year this nest site has been unsuccessful.

Monday, 22 April 2013

From Greenhouse To Peach House To Cold Frames

Both the greenhouse and peach house are full again, so space has to be made before any more of the seedlings can be pricked out into their individual pots.

Those plants that were moved into the peach house on the 9th April, see blog entry 'On The Move', have had sufficient time to become acclimatised to the lower temperatures and can now be moved into the cold frames. The space they leave behind is quickly filled by the remainder of September's cuttings that are now young, strong plants and still in the heated greenhouse, their 'Hardening Off' now begins.

By the end of the day, one section of the cold frame is full and the lids have been put in place to protect the plants from any frosts that may still occur. In a few weeks the plants in the peach house, that have been moved in there today, will take their place in the next section of the cold frame, where they will remain until they are planted out in June.

A Few Surprises Appearing In The Garden

Fritillaria meleagris Snakeshead Fritillary

Walking around the garden, now that Spring has arrived, a few surprises have appeared that have not been seen before. The first, on the Nuffield Lawn under the beech tree, is a Snakeshead Fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris. The second, found in the orchard grass, is a Cowslip, Primula veris, two beautiful additions to the Worcester College gardens, that will, hopefully, multiply in years to come.

 Primula veris Cowslip

Thursday, 18 April 2013

This Bit Goes Here!

 In a scene reminiscent of one last seen back in May 2010, see blog entry 11th May, 'How Many Men?', Simon, Joss and Ady spent the afternoon gathered around a number of pieces of flat packed, self assembly benches that needed assembling. 

For a few hours, without any instructions, they worked together to build two new benches that were then taken to the Ruskin Building.

Placed at the bottom of The Serpentine Garden, sitting on the benches will give a beautiful view along the entire serpentine which, at the moment, is a winding border of blue Muscari, see blog entry 9th April 2009 'A River Of Blue'.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Anemone blanda 'White Splendour'

The best results in gardening are achieved, sometimes, purely by accident. One such 'accident' was seen in the orchard when the colour of the two tulips matched the apple blossom, see blog entry 18th April 2011 'Accident Or By Design', well it has happened again.
On the Nuffield lawn, under the flowering cherry tree, is a mounded area of rough grass that was in need of some colourful intervention. The bulb chosen to achieve this was the wood anemone, Anemone blanda 'White Splendour' and last October Ali planted 100 of them under the watchful eyes of the resident squirrels. The next day, returning to the site, a number of holes had appeared and it was thought that the squirrels had dug them all up.

As can be seen from the photograph above, the squirrels were unsuccessful and there is a wonderful display of wood anemone under the cherry tree. The accident, the large white, daisy like flowers of the anemone have a pink flushed reverse that matches the blossom of the cherry tree, perfect.

Anemone blanda 'White Splendour'

Monday, 15 April 2013

If It Feels Like Spring, Looks Like Spring, It Must Be Spring!

With the weather having warmed up over the weekend and the weeks forecast to remain that way, Spring feels like it has finally arrived after the coldest of winters. With the winter hopefully over, it is time to get the black leaky hose pipe out of the pump house and lay it on the herbaceous border, although last year it was never used due to the extremely wet summer.

Whilst Ali and Simon lay the hose pipe down, Joss gives the Nuffield lawn its first cut of the season, long shadows appear for the first time now that the sun is shining and the grey clouds, that were a feature of the winter, have disappeared.

Walking around the garden there are signs of spring everywhere, the beautiful, bright yellow, Brimstone butterfly and pollinating insects are seen for the first time. The Sparrowhawk has announced its return and new songs from the returning migrant birds can be heard by those who want to listen, even one of the tree ferns is smiling!

Spring also sees the birds working hard building their nests. A pair of Canada Geese have built their nest behind the ash tree, three eggs have been seen when they get up to gently turn them with their beak.

In the orchard the daffodils sway in a gentle breeze, their bright yellow trumpets heralding Springs arrival. All around it feels like Spring, looks like Spring, so it must be Spring! (Even the groundsmen have their legs on display, shorts on, there is no going back now.)

Friday, 12 April 2013

Spring Cleaning The Tomato House

Back in March 2010, see blog entry 'First Day Of Spring', the restoration project of the tomato house began with the clearing out of all the rubbish that had been stored in it. By the end of March all the rubbish was gone and, following a clean and the single digging of the two borders, see blog entry 'Now The Digging Is Done', the tomato house was ready for use. Three years have now passed since it was first used again and they have been very productive years, a huge numbers of cucumbers and tomatoes have been consumed by the team during the past three summers. As can be seen by the next two photographs, the glass and walls are again in need of a clean, so Ali, in her waterproofs, wellington boots, goggles and ear defenders spent the morning power washing all the grime off.


By lunch time Ali had finished the power washing, the grime was no longer on the glass and walls but all over her, good job she had her protective clothing on! This year the sun will now be able to shine through the clean glass and, hopefully, it will be another very productive year.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Lifting And Splitting Galanthus 'Magnet'

The snowdrops in the herbaceous border have given a lovely display this year but, as their flowers have gone over, now is the time to lift and split them, 'in the green'. Graham and Ali spent a few hours this morning working on the large clumps of Galanthus 'Magnet', lifting, splitting and replanting the new, smaller clumps further along the border. Next year the display should be bigger and even better, but let's not wish away the year too quickly, the team will just have to wait.


The Completion Of 'Project Chicken'

The chickens have settled in well in a corner of the Provost's garden, but the team still had some more work to do to complete the project started on the 20th February, see blog entry 'Preparing For The Chickens'. Joss and Kieron went in to the garden first this week to put in the new iron edging, and to work out the new shape that would work best for the corner.

Ady, Graham and Callum joined them the next day to clear out a few more old shrubs at the back of the chicken area and, once cleared, a few more trailer loads of wood chippings were spread over the extension..

With the work at the back of the chickens completed yesterday, Joss returned, this time with Callum, to prepare the ground in front of the new iron edging for the sowing of grass seed. Top soil was spread over the area, levelled and, by the end of the day, the seed had been sown and the area roped off until the grass has grown.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Improving The Light Levels

With some of the young plants now occupying the old, unheated peach house, the natural light levels which play a crucial role in plant growth, need to be improved. (The photograph above does make the peach house look well ventilated, this is not due to missing panes of glass but new panes that have been installed and not yet been painted with 'Coolglass'.)

The roof, covered in dirt, mess and other horrible, unidentified crusted material, needed to be power washed off. After an hour, Ali had managed to remove the grime and, with a sparkling clean roof, the plants should grow well until they are moved to their next home in the cold frames.

The First Of Many Seedlings

With space being made in the greenhouse yesterday, there is now space for the seedlings to be pricked out into their individual pots. The Geraniums were pricked out a few weeks ago but today was the first, of what will be a number of days, that Ali will spend in the greenhouse over the next few weeks pricking out a few hundred seedlings.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

On The Move

The greenhouse is now full, not an inch of space left, which is causing a problem as some of the seeds have now germinated and need pricking out. To create space the cuttings taken last September must be moved into the old, unheated peach house for the start of  'hardening off', the toughening up of plants to acclimatise them to the cooler outside temperatures.

The cuttings, repotted in January, are moved to larger pots, the last time before they are planted out into the garden in June

The plants are then taken to the peach house and laid out on the staging until it is full. When the heated greenhouse becomes full again, as the seeds are pricked out, these plants will be moved out of the peach house into the cold frames and replaced by more of the plants that have been repotted today. By the end of May the greenhouse, peach house and cold frames will be full to bursting.