Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Disinfecting With Jeyes Fluid

The greenhouse has been empty for some time now, since all the plants were planted out in June, and is in desperate need of a deep clean. The high temperatures, over the last few weeks, have stopped Ali from cleaning it, as it would have been far to hot to spend the day under glass. 
Today the temperatures dropped sufficiently to create a comfortable working environment for the Ali to move in. Joined by Graham and Ady, they removed the over turned plastic bread and Tesco food trays, used during the winter as makeshift, low level shelving for the shade loving plants. The weeds were then dug up and the floor swept to remove all the plant debris. Old metal and wooden shelving that had been used for storage, no longer required since the building of the potting shed, was taken to the skip, then the wooden bench tops were placed on the floor in readiness for Ali to clean the staging.

Mixing Jeyes Fluid with boiling water, Ali used a scrubbing brush to clean all the staging, removing all the dirt and disinfecting the surfaces. For the floor, boiling water mixed with Jeyes Fluid, in a watering can, is poured onto the stone and slabs to remove algae and dirt. Once dry, the surfaces are hosed down and the greenhouse closed down for the remainder of the summer.

Monday, 29 July 2013

A Little Boost, Liquid Tomato Food.

The plants in the display pots have been in situ for eight weeks and are putting on a lovely display, so today they were giving a little boost. To help them to continue giving this wonderful display they were all fed using a liquid plant food, Osmo Liquid Tomato Food, 45 pots in total. (Other liquid fertilisers are available!)

The tomato and cucumber plants in the tomato house have been receiving their weekly feed, their little boost, ever since the first fruit started to set.  

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Yew Hedges, Yew Columns And A Box Hedge

Joss and Simon spent the day in the Provost's garden trimming the yew hedges, the 20 yew columns and box hedge. The yew hedge, pictured above, was only planted in March, see blog entry 11th March 'A New Yew Hedge', and has settled in well so was in need of its first cut. The hedge cutting will move on to the box balls and the remainder of the yew and box hedges around the college.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Tranquillity At The Bottom Of The Quad

The Bottom Border

The flower border at the bottom of the front quadrangle, known as 'The Bottom Border' by the gardeners, has matured well since its planting at the end of May, see blog entry 28th May 'In The Pouring Rain The Planting Out Begins'. The mixture of annual and perennial plants have created a display of tranquillity, a calmness at the end of the lush green, diagonal striped lawn.
The fresh, clean white palette of the Malope trifida 'Alba', Antirrhinum majus 'Royal Bride' and Ammi majus is pierced through by the long, exploding panicles of Panicum elegans 'Frosted Explosion'. The subtle, soft pinks are provided by the Salvia 'Penny's Smile', Diascia personata, Nicotiana mutabilis and Cleome spinosa 'Colour Fountain Mixed', and the silver by Plectranthus argentatus 'Silver Shield'.
The structure is provided by the permenant planting, the perennials and shrubs, Hemerocallis 'Catherine Woodbery', Artemisia 'Powis Castle', Verbena bonariensis, Zantedeschia aethiopica 'Crowborough', Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis', Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple', Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky', Geranium x oxonium 'A T Johnson' and Indigofera gerardiana.

Malope trifida 'Alba' (Mallow), Antirrhinum majus 'Royal Bride' (Snapdragon), Panicum elegans 'Frosted Explosion' (Grass)

Ammi majus (Bishop's Flower),  Hemerocallis 'Catherine Woodbery' (Daylily), Salvia 'Penny's Smile' (Pink) Plectranthus argentatus 'Silver Shield' (Silver)

Diascia personata (Pink), Ammi majus (White), Nepeta (Blue)

Monday, 22 July 2013

"Mummy, It Looks Like Snow"

Out of the mouths of babes often comes the truth, and how observant one little girl was today as she walked towards the Champion Tree, Catalpa speciosa. Numerous white flowers had fallen onto the ground and Ali had already taken the photographs seen here in this post, thinking to herself that, although hot outside, it looked like snow. The little girl turned to her mother and said what she saw, "Mummy. it looks like snow", running into the layer of white, a lovely scene to witness.

Friday, 19 July 2013

The Biggest Umbrella

The temperatures have been steadily climbing all week reaching 30 degrees C. The gardeners are feeling the heat, but spare a thought for the Stonemasons, who are working on the roof at the front of the college. Noisy, dusty and extremely hot, they have connected a large umbrella to the scaffolding to give them some shade.

Nine Ways To Apply Water

This has been the hottest July since 2006, so the team's priority has been to try and keep the flower displays, newly seeded lawns and recently planted trees watered. Every method to hand is being used, nine different ways in all, until the temperatures break and the storms arrive, bringing the much needed rain.

Oscillating Sprinkler
The sprinklers used range from Oscillating to Mushroom Head, dependant on the situation their water is required.

Rotoframe Sprinkler

Black Soaker Hose

The soaker hoses deliver the precious droplets of water to where they are needed most, reducing on wastage, a more efficient way to water the plants.


Part/Full Circle Metal Sprinkler

H2O Bags (80 Litres)

The H2O bags fit securely in the wheelbarrows, allowing the safe transport of up to 80 litres of water to the trees where there is no easy access to a water source.

Watering Cans
The ever reliable watering cans are used with the hoses pipes to water the many display pots, and for spot watering.

Mushroom Head Sprinkler

The Rotor Pop-Up Sprinklers deliver the water to the main quad lawn and the banks at night reducing the risk of evaporation. The system jets are set to the exact radius for the arcs of water to cover the grass to prevent wasting water.

Rotor Pop-Up Sprinklers

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Hedge Cutting In The Heatwave

The daytime temperatures have been averaging 27/28 degrees C, an unusual heatwave for July, but this hasn't stopped the guys in the team cutting some more of the hedges in and around the college grounds.

Hot, sticky and sweat pouring down them they have managed to cut five hedges, some small but others large. Ligustrum (Privet), Pyracantha, Buxus sempervirens (Box) and Lonicera nitida have all been neatly trimmed, leaving just the five yew hedges, 33 box balls, 20 yew columns and 1 box hedge left to do.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Trim 2 Fit Ladder Feet

The longest ladder the gardeners have to use, enabling them to reach the highest of the climbing plants, has been deemed unusable, as well as unsafe. Due to a number of broken feet, it failed its ladder safety inspection and has been waiting for new feet to be fitted.

Using the 'Trim 2 Fit' replacement ladder feet for box section ladders, Ali carefully cut the solid rubber along the provided guidlines to the size required. The ladder now has eight new feet, passed its ladder safety inspection and has now been brought back in to service.

Friday, 12 July 2013

June Drop In July

June is usually the time when the apple trees start to naturally thin the number of apples they produce, creating more space for the remaining fruit to grow to maturity. This year 'June Drop' is occurring later than usual and has begun in July. As you walk amongst the trees, especially the larger trees, there are a large number of fruits that have been shed but there are many more still on the trees, lets hope they stay attached for team to pick in the autumn for juicing.

Swan Nest And Eggs Abandoned

For nine weeks the swans sat on their eggs, hatching should have taken place after just six, and yesterday they flew off leaving their nest and eggs behind. A very disappointing day for the students and staff that have been waiting for the eggs to hatch and the eagerly awaited arrival of cygnets. 

Overnight one of the four eggs has disappeared and the beautifully constructed nest has already started to collapse, now occupied by the mallards. 

Hopefully the swans will return to the lake and try again next year as it caused great excitement here at the college.

Monday, 8 July 2013

A Strong Instinct To Brood

The brooding instinct is so strong in Muscovies that it was no surprise to see one of them sitting on the swan eggs whilst the female swan, called a pen, was away from the nest for a short time. Never far away she quickly came back to reclaim her precious eggs.

Wilting In The Heat

By lunch time the temperature had reached 26 degrees C in the Provost's rose garden and the team were wilting as quick as the roses. Hundreds of faded blooms had already been removed in the cooler temperatures of the morning, the rest will be left for tomorrow morning as the team moved to shadier areas of the college gardens.

Friday, 5 July 2013


The view looking back across the quadrangle lawn has changed over the last week as scaffolding has been erected over the outside of the cloisters and the library. Stone masons will be working on the roof edge to repair and replace the weathered old stone, followed by painters, who will be painting the windows frames.

Four Fallen Trees

Over the weekend four young Sycamore trees were brought down in strong winds, blocking the Oxford Canal and towpath that runs adjacent to the college boundary. On Monday, Ady, Graham and Callum cleared the tops of the trees from the towpath but had to leave the trunks in place until they could be cleared by tree surgeons.

Today the tree surgeons arrived from Sylva Trees to remove the fallen trees, using a boat to give them clear access along the bank of the canal. By the end of the day the canal was clear again and all the cut up wood removed. 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Let There Be Light

Simon spent the morning in the front quad, peeling the Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, off the windows. A vigorous climber, it has been creeping rapidly across some of the lower level windows, reducing the light levels in the rooms as it creeps across the windows by attaching disc like suckers to the stone arches, the frames and glass. The windows are now clear, but it is still rapidly creeping up the building, so Simon will return on another day to stop its vertical advancement.