Friday, 28 June 2013

Empty Pots And An Empty Greenhouse

The planting out of all the displays in the borders and pots is complete and all that is left is a few unused plants, hundreds of dirty flower pots, that need to be washed, and an empty greenhouse, that is in need of a deep clean. The washing up liquid and Jeyes Fluid, for the pots and greenhouse respectively, will come out in early July before the whole process starts again with the sowing of the seeds for the winter bedding display in late July.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Soaker Hose Watering System

Always hoping for a warm summer this year, a watering system has been put in place on the nursery beds to save time should the warm weather ever arrive. The first piece of black soaker hose was put down when the sweet peas were planted, see blog entry 12th June 'Sweet Pea 'Albutt Blue', 'Blue Danube' and 'Mars'.

This hose has now been extended to a length that will now water the newly planted bulbs and plants that will provide the cut flowers this summer. A second soaker hose has been added to the heeling in bed where a number of stock and large ornamental plants, used for the winter displays, are kept. The third hose has been placed on one of the two vegetable patches. The gardeners can now water the three beds and be elsewhere in the gardens whilst the water gets precisely where it is needed, now all that is needed is that elusive warm summer. 

The Wild Garden

At the beginning of February last year the team spent three days working in the back garden of Worcester Cottage, clearing it in preparation for landscaping, see blog entry 1st February 2012 'Clearance'.

As can be seen by these photographs, the landscaping project has yet to begin and the wilderness has returned, which isn't a bad thing as the wild flowers have been very beneficial for the insects, bees and butterflies. However, an area to entertain is needed so, beneath the canopy of the Holm Oak, a smaller area has been cleared and a decorative wood chip added to give a more natural finish in keeping with the surroundings.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)

The last blooms of the Sweet William, Dianthus barbatus, have been cut today and the plants dug up. The space the two dozen plants have occupied since October last year is needed for the later flowering summer plants, Antirrhinum, Gladiolus and Panicum elegans 'Frosted Explosion'. This year was the first time the gardeners had grown Sweet William and, as a cut flower, it has been a wonderful success, providing lots of beautiful, long lasting blooms for the team and the college. For further reference to the cut flower bed, see blog entries 23rd April 2013 'Cut Flowers' and 9th October 2012 'Cut Flower Bed'.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Seed To Lawn In Just 11 Weeks

On the 11th April Joss scattered grass seed over a specially prepared area in a corner of the Provost's garden and roped it off to protect it. Today, just 11 weeks later, the grass seed has grown creating a lovely area of lawn and the ropes have been removed.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Indigofera gerardiana

Indigofera gerardiana

Ali has been asked on a number of occasions recently, what the pretty pink flowered shrub at the bottom of the quad is? The answer, Indigofera gerardiana, an elegant flowering shrub that is covered in numerous erect racemes of pea like purple-pink flowers. Should you wish to see the pendulous species, take a walk up the steps from the quad to the terrace where you will find Indigofera pendula, which has numerous pendulous racemes of pea like purple-pink flowers. (Or maybe turn the photo upside down!)

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Eschscholzia mexicana 'Sun Shades' (Californian Poppy)

Eschscholzia mexicana 'Sun Shades' (Californian Poppy)

Purchased from Thompson & Morgan and grown from seed a few years ago, Eschscholzia mexicana 'Sun Shades' (Californian Poppy) is now self seeding freely in the herbaceous border. This fast growing annual has spread from its original position in the border, making a larger, more striking display of bright fiery orange and yellow, chalice-like, flowers, brightening up the recent grey, overcast, muggy days.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

A Young Fox Cub Rescued

A very small, young fox cub has been seen around the college during the last week and has been causing some concern amongst the staff. Worried that it seemed to be too young and small to be alone, was very thin, and hungry, as most of the sightings had been in the bin areas, it was decided to try and catch it and take it to a local animal rescue centre. Captured quite easily by tempting it into an animal carrier basket with three rashers of bacon, it was transported to the greenhouse. Not happy with its capture, it bit through the basket and escaped, only to be recaptured and, this time, locked in the greenhouse. The RSPCA were then called.

RSPCA Animal Collection Officer, Dennis, arrived later this morning and managed to catch the fox cub and place it in to a less edible carrier. He confirmed what the staff had suspected, that the fox was too young to be alone, as well as having mange, the reason for its the fur loss and foul smell. Dennis took the  fox to St. Tiggywinkles for rehabilitation. A big thank you to the RSPCA and St. Tiggywinkles for their help today.

Hedge Trimming And Spraying

The hedge trimming has started today with the longest hedge in the college. The box hedge begins by the peach house, continues along the side of the nursery and three small lawns. Simon began trimming the hedge this morning and will, hopefully, finish tomorrow.

In the Ruskin building area, Callum, under Ali's guidance, sprays the weeds that have appeared in great numbers amongst the paving slabs. Due to the high footfall in this area, barrier tape in used to cordon off the area where the weedkiller in applied to prevent transfer to any of the nearby lawns.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Have They Hatched Yet?

A question Ali is asked on a daily basis, have they hatched yet?  Four eggs are still being incubated by the swans and, as the estimated due date, 21st June, fast approaches, Ali will hopefully be able to say 'yes' when the question is asked the next time.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Thank You, Magdalen College School

Today the team were joined by 20 boys, aged 14-15, and 2 members of staff from Magdalen College School as part of a community service project. They were split in to small groups to work in different areas of the college, clearing and planting a vegetable plot, potting up two oak pots and potting up four pots in the Pump Quad. The photographs show the two oak pots that some of the boys planted, showing a clever use of exotic plants and a very creative use of colours and textures, thank you boys.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Sweet Pea 'Albutt Blue', 'Blue Danube' And 'Mars'

The sweet peas are now about a foot tall and are desperate to be planted out in to the cut flower border located in the nursery. Yesterday four trenches were dug and filled with leaf mould ready for their planting today. Inspired by a visit to 'The Pickery' at Easton Walled Gardens, Grantham, Lincolnshire last year, Ali spent a few hours this morning constructing a new support frame for them using bamboo canes and pea netting, then, joined by Simon, they planted them.  From the 70 different varieties that the Walled Gardens grow, Ali chose three to be grown at Worcester. The three chosen varieties are:
Sweet Pea Albutt Blue', scented flowers with a pale blue edging on a white ground.
Sweet Pea 'Blue Danube', scented flowers with mid blue flowers.
Sweet Pea 'Mars', scented flowers with a striking red stripe on a white ground.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Planting In Dappled Shade

Another border, located at the back of the kitchen next to the Nuffield building, was planted up today. The planting was influenced by the large Catalpa speciosa (Western Catalpa), whose large canopy casts dappled shade over the area. The tree planted in the winter of 1911/12, is now registered as a Champion Tree on The Tree Register, and has been measured at 21 meters tall, making it the tallest of its type to be recorded in the UK. ('Champion Tree' status is given to those trees of national importance based on their age, size, height and girth.) With the dappled shade in mind, Ady, Graham and Kieron spent the morning planting semi-shade loving plants including tree ferns, ferns, impatiens, begonia, spider plants, umbrella papyrus. 

Monday, 10 June 2013

Four Swan Eggs

Ali managed to capture this photo of the swan covering the eggs before it went out on the lake. The swans are still incubating their clutch of four eggs and the college staff are still waiting for the arrival of cygnets, not long now, they hope. Blog entry 10th May 'The Swans Are Incubating Their Eggs' predicted the 10th - 21st June for the hatching to take place, and the college is watching and waiting, quietly of course.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Blue Tits Fledged

Ali got in to work this morning an hour early and made her way down to the canal side path to check on the nest boxes, see blog entry 31st May 'Nest Box Update'. The adult Blue Tits were still working hard taking food to their brood, but this time they would occasionally be met at the entrance hole. Later in the day the Blue Tits fledged and the box is now quiet, a success story for one of the four new boxes. 

Bananas On The Move

The banana plants are bursting through the open vents in the greenhouse, demanding to be let out now that the weather has warmed up outside.

Five large plants were transported from the greenhouse, through the Provost's garden, to their final position and home for the summer in the herbaceous border.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

This Year's Theme Is 'The Colour Orange'.

Yesterday morning the corner border had its winter colour removed, all the wallflowers were lifted and taken to the compost pile. The box balls and cornus, cut back, were left in place to add structure to this year's summer display.

The soil was then forked through, weeds and debris removed, then levelled and fed with Growmore, a granular plant food.

Young plants, grown from seed, were then planted in the prepared border. This year's theme is 'The Colour Orange', a hot colour for the summer. Plants include Solanum sisymbrifolium (Sticky Nightshade), Calendula officinalis 'Neon' (Pot Marigold), Alonsoa meridionalis (Mask Flower), Rudbeckia x hirta hybrida 'Cherokee Sunset' (Coneflower), Rudbeckia hirta 'Chim Chiminee' (Cone Flower), Belamcanda chinensis (Leopard Lily) and Solanum pyracanthum (Porcupine Tomato).

Today another structural plant was added to the border, Aeonium arboreum 'Schwarzkopf',  a succulent with very dark purple rosettes.

Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation'

Back in October last year, an extra 40 Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation' bulbs were planted in the four borders that form the serpentine in The Ruskin Building courtyard, see blog entry 18th October 2012 'Holes In The Ground'. Now, seven and a half months later, the extra bulbs have resulted in a stunning display of purple flower heads that seem to be floating above the newly emerging perennials and box balls.

Monday, 3 June 2013

A New Home For The Evergreens

The nine oak pots in the Provost's courtyard were emptied this morning of all the winter plants. The Holly and Box balls have been part of both the summer and winter displays since the pots were first planted in 2009 and have outgrown their pots. Their new, permanent home is the empty border by The Linbury Building, that was prepared for them back in March, see blog entries 13th March 'Border Clearance and Preparation' and the 14th March 'A Busy Morning And An Afternoon Visit'.

A New Central Display

The sun has come out and, hopefully, the threat of a late frost has eased. The team get to work on clearing out the nine wooden oak pots in the Provost's courtyard.

The winter display is removed, the annuals are put on the compost heap and the shrubs planted out in the gardens.

The pots, still containing soil, are too heavy to lift so the New Holland, with the fork lift attachment, is used to move them from the corners to their new place in the centre of the courtyard. The pots have been in the corners since 2009, see blog entry 28th February 'The Oak Pots'.

The pots are topped up with new soil mixed with water retaining granules and Growmore, a granular plant food. By the end of the day, the are full of plants to create this year's summer display. These include Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii' (Red Abysinian Banana), Abutilon, Cyperus alternifolius (Umbrella papyrus), Gomphocarpus physocarpus (Balloon Plant), Cotinus coggyria 'Royal Purple' (Smoke Bush), pink Pelargonium, Plectranthus forsteri (Variegated Plectranthus), Dahlia 'David Howard' (Burnt Orange Dahlia), Cosmos sulphureus 'Polidor' (Orange Cosmos), Tibouchina urvilleana (Glory Bush) and many more.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Coldest Spring In 50 Years

The Spring of 2013 has gone into the record books. The months that The Met Office class as Spring are March, April and May, and this year they have collectively given us the coldest Spring in 50 years! Compare this to the same period last year, March, the third warmest since records began followed by the wettest April and a very soggy first three weeks in May, how different Spring can be. Gardeners and wildlife are getting confused, hopefully summer has now arrived.