Friday, 30 August 2013

BBC 'Great Garden Revival'

The BBC have spent the morning  in the college filming for a new series called 'Great Garden Revival'. This episode, presented by Sarah Raven, will feature lawns, and may also feature two members of the gardening team, Joss and Simon who were also filmed. Keep a look out for the series starting in December, especially this episode.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Brushing The Lawn

As autumn fast approaches, Joss sweeping the dew off the quad lawn is becoming a regular sight in the morning. Turf diseases, such as Fusarium, thrive in moist conditions, so removing the dew keeps the surface dry, preventing the build up of theses diseases and the potential use of fungicides.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Summer Pruning Wisteria

Ali and Simon spent the day pruning the largest of the wisteria that cover the railings at the bottom of the quadrangle. The team prune the wisteria twice a year, once in the winter and once in the summer, much prefering the lovely sunny days of the summer prune rather than the cold days during the winter prune. Since flowering in May, the wisteria have put on a huge amount of long, wispy, tangled growth and needs this prune to keep it looking tidy, until the team return with their secateurs and long reach pruners for its winter prune in January. 

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Pricking Out Myosotis 'Royal Blue'

The wallflowers may well have been grown by a bedding plant supplier this year, but the Myosotis 'Royal Blue', Forget Me Not, have been grown from seed at the college. Cooler today, Ali works in the potting shed, pricking out the first 100 seedlings in to plug trays which are then placed in the peach house. The smaller seedlings were left in their trays to grow on until they are ready to be pricked out in a few weeks time.

Cementing The Cold Frame Floors

On Tuesday, Ady, Graham and Callum began the task of replacing the gravel flooring in the cold frames to cement flooring. The reason behind this change is to try and prevent the build up of weed as they set seed and germinate in the gravel, see blog entry 13th August 2013 'Killing Weeds In The Cold Frames'.Two frames were successfully changed this week, the cement levelled at a slight downward gradient from back to front, allowing any water to run off down to the very small gravel soak away. Once set, Ali put one straight in to use by putting 230 wallflowers on to the new cement floor.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Potting Up 460 Wallflower Plug Plants

Ali set herself up for a day of potting up 460 wallflower plug plants that have arrived from the suppliers. Too hot to work inside the greenhouse or the potting shed, she put the umbrella up over the bench outside to give her some shade to work in.

The colour of the wallflowers this year are orange and yellow, 230 'Sunset Orange' and 230 'Sunset Primrose'.

By the end of the day all the plug plants had been potted up in their individual 8cm x 8cm x 9cm pots. To prevent any mix up, one colour was placed in the peach house and the other in the cold frames.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Radical Pruning Of The Rosa banksiae 'Lutea'

Last year the Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' was treated to a hard prune, but as it turned out, not hard enough! (See blog entry 8th August 2012, 'At The Top Of The Tallest Ladder'.) This year a radical prune was decided upon, with Simon, encouraged by Ali, known as 'Radical Ali' when it comes to pruning, giving the rose this very heavy prune. As this rose flowers on the old wood and the previous years growth, pruning should have taken place immediately after flowering, June, allowing the new growth to mature. This radical prune will effect the amount of flowers seen next year but, by 2015, the display should be back to its best, covered in clusters of pale yellow flowers.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Tagetes patula

Planted amongst the Rudbeckia, on the herbaceous border, is Tagetes patula, French Marigold. Introduced to the gardens successfully last year, this tall annual has been grown from seed again, creating a beautiful display of dark orange amongst the Rudbeckia's rustic red, yellow, bronze and gold.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Tallest Hedge

The tallest hedge in the college gardens is located by the car park. Its height was reduced by a metre in 2010, see blog entry 1st September 'Reduce The Height', but still needs a supported ladder to reach the top. Over the last two days Joss, Simon and Kieron have all spent some time cutting the hedge, at least a cherry picker or tower scaffolding are no longer needed, which were used prior to 2010.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Killing Weeds In The Cold Frames

The weeds have got slightly out of control in the cold frames and, despite the gardeners best efforts to hand weed, a chemical weed killer has had to be used. Needing a clean space for the winter bedding to be stored until the bedding out begins in October, Ali using the knapsack sprayer, sprays the frames with 'Proliance Quattro', a fast acting, systemic herbicide for use on both annual and perennial weeds.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwarzkopf'

There are two plants in the gardens that cause the most enquiries, one of which is Aeonium arboreum 'Schwarzkopf'. Mentioned in the blog entry of the 15th July 2011 'What Is That?', it is still one of the top two plants that create interest. Found in the corner border display this year, the Aeonium is a dark succulent forming rosettes of almost black, glossy leaves. Tender, the six plants will be lifted in October and repotted for their winter storage in the greenhouse.

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Having mentioned the plant, Aeonium arboreum 'Schwarzkopf', as one of two plants that generate the most interest in the gardens, here is the other one, Gomphocarpus physocarpus. Mentioned in the blog entry of the 9th July 2009 'Fur Balls, Fishing Rods and a little bit of Passion', it is still causing quite a stir every year.

The small white, somewhat insignificant, flowers transform into large translucent, hairy balls or hairy balloons and it is this sight that causes all the enquiries. As with the Aeonium, this tall, tender plant will be lifted in October and repotted for its over winter storage in the greenhouse.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

More Hedge Cutting

This years hedge cutting started with the longest hedge, the box hedge, on the 19th June and has been continuing periodically since then. Simon cut the long yew hedge that divides the orchard and Kieron, over the last two days, has clipped the thirty box balls in the Serpentine border.

Ady spent today cutting the yew hedge at the bottom of the Provost's garden whilst Ali cut the box hedges in the Linbury Building courtyard. Two hedges are now left until the hedge cutting is complete, the yew hedge by the car park and the large yew hedge the borders along the Provost's driveway.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Orchard Long Grass Cut Down

The long grass in the orchard has started to flatten and look untidy, so it is time to cut it down. Ady, using the large Iseki ride on mower, sets the cutting deck to a high level to start and gradually reduces the decks height until all the grass has been cut. The dark green paths, that had weaved through the long grass, are still visible, and, with the grass now short, it will be kept at this height as easy access is required for the fruit tree picking season that fast approaches.

Nicotiana sylvestris

Nicotiana sylvestris

As you walk through the top archway, from the front quad, and start your walk down the herbaceous border, a group of the statuesque Nicotiona sylvestris announce what floral beauty is about to befall you. Standing five feet tall, they add a touch of class to the start of the border, their stately flower stems can't help but catch your eye, gracefully exploding like pure white fireworks.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Coton Manor Garden

South West Terrace

The gardeners spent a lovely sunny afternoon visiting the gardens at Coton Manor. Located between Northampton and Rugby, 6 miles from the M1 junction 16 and 18, these stunning 10 acres of garden are overlooked by the 17th century manor house. The team enjoyed a private tour by owner and Head Gardener, Susie Pasley-Tyler, and came away truly inspired by the many carefully, and lovingly, planted borders. (

Holly Hedge Border

Canal Run Border

Rose Garden

Acacia Border

Monday, 5 August 2013

Mischievous Muscovy

After morning tea break, Ali, Joss and Sophie were walking through the front quad to be greeted by the sight of three mischievous Muscovy walking on the lawn, ducks and people are not allowed on the quad lawn. The ducks spotted them and quickly waddled over to them thinking they would be warmly welcomed. Not so, before they were able to make any messy deposits on the lawn, they were carefully ushered off the lawn and through the arch, much to the amusement of onlookers gathered on the top terrace.

Not content with their adventure on to the quad lawn, within the hour, the three Muscovy had regrouped and joined the other three to make an attempt to breach the defences to the Provost's garden. Spotted by Sophie and Ali as the ducks made their way across the bridge to the open gate, it was shut, just in time, to scupper another adventure, mean gardeners!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Chitalpa tashkentensis

Chitalpa tashkentensis

With its giant relative, the Catalpa tree, in sight of it in the gardens, the Chitalpa tashkentensis, is now putting on its own stunning floral display. A hybrid of Chilopsis and Catalpa, this much smaller, more rounded tree, is covered in frilly pink flowers with yellow throats, and has caused a great interest amongst visitors to the gardens. (To compare the flowers of its relative, refer to blog entry 11th July 2012, 'Catalpa speciosa and Impatiens tinctoria').

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Warm Glow Of Rudbeckia

The gardens of Worcester have been increasing filled with Rudbeckia over recent years. This year, in the corner border, they have been used as the main plant, creating a warm glow of yellow, orange, bronze, mahogany red and gold.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Moreno'
New to the gardens is Rudbeckia hirta 'Moreno', its mahogany red flowers with golden orange tips, has already become a favourite and will be grown again next year.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Autumn Forest'
Returning, after its successful introduction last year, is Rudbeckia hirta 'Autumn Forest, with its lovely dark mahogany red centre with bright yellow tips.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Chim Chiminee'
Two favourite Rudbeckia, always grown, are 'Chim Chiminee', unusual quilled petals around a brown centre and 'Cherokee Sunset', double and semi-double flowers, making a perfect contrast to each other.

Rudbeckia x hirta hybrida 'Cherokee Sunset'
Herbaceous Border
With the soaring temperatures of July, the Rudbeckia have created a very warm display around the gardens, in particular, helping to turn up the heat, in an already sunny corner.

Corner Border