Thursday, 31 October 2013

3410 Bulbs To Be Planted

This year's bulbs have arrived from the suppliers 'Peter Nyssen Limited', 3280 to be exact, with another 130 on order and still to be delivered.

The majority are tulips, 'Black Hero', 'China Pink', 'National Velvet', 'Purple Dream', 'Queen Of The Night', Spring Green', 'West Point', 'Orange Emperor', 'Lily Flowered Mix' and 'Triumph Mix'. There are also 1000 Scilla siberica, a few hundred Narcissi, 'Fortune' and 'Sweet Love', as well as Allium 'Purple Sensation' and Anemone blanda 'White Splendour'.

Ali spent some time this afternoon planting the first of the bulbs, the 100 Anemone, adding to the 100 planted last year, hopefully enhancing the display seen in last April, see blog entry 17th April 'Anemone blanda White Splendour'.

A One Month Earlier Than Last Year

The pruning of the climbing plants started early last year, see blog entry 29th November 'Pruning Begins', starting with those on the top terrace of the front quad. This year the pruning began last Friday, 25th October, again in the front quad, but on the lower level, starting with the climbing roses on the old medieval cottages. Today the good start continued by finishing all the roses on the cottages and then moving up to one of the roses on the top terrace. The pruning of the other roses, the campsis and wisteria will carry on during the next month, continuing the good early start to this year's winter pruning. 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Turning The Beds

The compost bay that was reconstructed by using old beds last year, see blog entry 'Six Old Beds' 4th October 2012, has had to be repaired today. The four beds that were placed at the back of the bay, have now been turned on their ends in order to create a sturdier construction, as well as being supported by new back boards.

To support the left side of the bay, angled wooden supports have been constructed to prevent any future collapse. It is hoped that this new, improved design will be stronger, especially if it is hit by the grab attachment of the New Holland tractor when turning the compost heap, see blog entry 'How Do You Keep Warm?' 26th November 2010.

Dressed In Full PPE

Hidden amongst the huge leaves of the Tetrapanax papyrifer, in the herbaceous border, is the last banana plant that needs to go into the greenhouse for winter storage. The team are all aware of the nasty, irritating dust that is found on the underside of the leaves, so always wear protective face masks when handling them, see blog entry 'All Out' 5th October 2011. Ali, particularly susceptible to the dust, having choked, coughed, spluttered, itched and had streaming eyes, wore the full PPE, personal protective equipment, gloves, chemical suit with hood, face mask and goggles, when handling the plant today.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Leafing After St. Jude

The ferocious St Jude storm passed through Oxford last night, fortunately, only bringing down leaves and not causing any damage to the gardens. In recent weeks, now that the leaves have began to fall, Monday has become 'leafing day' for the team, and, due to the high overnight winds, there were more leaves to collect than usually seen after the weekend.

All the team were involved today, clearing up the leaves around the college using various methods, blowing, mowing and raking all day until they were all cleared. Next Monday the team will regroup for another 'Leafing Day'. 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Triple Width Stripes

Since the blog began in February 2009, four and a half years ago, there have been many differant designs seen on the lawn in the quad, some of which can be seen using the links below.

'Double Width Circles' 3rd May 2013
'Round In Circles' 26th March 2012
'Change Of Direction'  2nd June 2010
'Seeing Double' 30th September 2010

Today Joss, for the first time, mowed 'triple width stripes' on the lawn.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Planting For A Winter Display

This year's summer display in the Provost's Courtyard was removed on the 10th October, with the pots having sat empty since then. Simon, assisted by the volunteers, Crystal on Friday and today by Sophie, started by planting the large architectural, evergreen plants, varieties of Holly, Ilex aquifolium and Ilex crenata.

With the large plants in place, creating a backdrop to work against, dwarf shrubs were planted, the Dogwood, Cornus alba 'Westernbirt' and the Christmas Berry, Photinia x fraseri 'Red Robin'. The low planting was provided by the Black Grass, Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens, and to soften the edges of the pots, Ivy, Hedera helix 'Parsley Crested' was planted. Wallflowers will be added over the next few days and then bulbs, once received from the distributors.

Potting Up September's Cuttings

The cuttings, taken from the tender plants that have formed the wonderful displays seen around the college this summer, have rooted and are ready to be potted up into their individual pots. The cuttings taken a month ago, see blog entry 18th September 'Mist Unit Filled With Cuttings', have been out of the mist unit for a week, hardening off, no longer being pampered with under soil heating and a regular misting every 45 minutes. Kieron, Callum, Ali and Sophie spent a rain affected morning in the potting shed and greenhouse until all the cuttings were done. These plants will form next year's summer display and will spend the next six months under glass.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Pear Picking Time

The first apples for this year's college juice were picked on the 9th October, see blog entry 'Apple Picking 2013', now it is time to pick the pears which have ripened over the last week. Ali and Kieron spent the day in the orchard picking three varieties of pears, Conference, Winter Nelis and Doyenne du Comice, filling 7 trays by lunch time. In the afternoon their attention returned to the apples filling another 6 trays, 13 trays in total, all destined for juicing at Waterperry Gardens.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Dappled Shade Planting Comes Back Inside

The forecast rain arrived today, for which team were already prepared. Numerous tender plants were dug up from the borders yesterday ready to potted up today, see blog entry 11th June 'Planting In Dappled Shade'. As the rain eased, the largest plants were potted up outside, whilst the smaller ones were taken inside. By the end of the day the greenhouse was almost full, with more plants to come in over the next week, it is going to be a tight squeeze. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

One Person's Compost Is Another Person's Food Wrapping

The team very much enjoy talking to the many visitors that come to see the college gardens. Occasionally the conversations that they have take on a surprising turn, Ali had one such conversation today.
This week the team have started to take the tender plants back into the greenhouse for winter storage, and, to get the banana plants into greenhouse, their tops have to be cut off. Whilst taking the huge banana leaves to the compost heap, she was stopped by two visitors and asked where the leaves were being taken? One of the visitors, it turned out, was from Burma and she hadn't seen a banana leaf since she had left the country. She asked if she could have one of the leaves, but not the whole leaf, just small squares, which she duly tore off. Excitedly she explained that these pieces would be used as a food wrapping! Apparently in Burma, the leaves are used to serve food on and to wrap food up in, the perfect biodegradable food packaging. This was a conversation Ali could never have imagined having whilst working in the college gardens, the use of banana leaves in different cultures, one person's compost turned out to be another person's food wrapping.

From Summer Bedding To Spring Bedding

Yesterday Ali, Kieron and Callum started working on the border at the bottom of the quad. The summer display is now past its best and needs removing ready for the spring bedding display, for the summer planting see blog entry 'Tranquillity At The Bottom Of The Quad' dated 23rd July. 

Working along the border they cut down the perennials and remove the summer display plants, some of which are to be kept as stock plants, the rest are taken to the compost heap.

By the end of the day the border is cleared, weeded, levelled and mulched, leaving it tidy and ready for today's planting of the 240 Wallflower 'Sunset Primrose' by Graham and Ali.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Adding The 'Royal Blue' To The 'Sunset Orange'

The Myosotis 'Royal Blue', pricked out on the 22nd August, are now ready to be planted out in their winter display position. Today they have joined the Wallflower 'Sunset Orange', adding the 'Royal Blue' to this year's theme, all that is left to be added is the yellow, which will be provided by the Tulip 'West Point', still to be planted.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Gone In Just 40 Minutes

The night time temperatures have dropped between 5 to10 degrees centrigrade causing a slight panic due to the potential damage to the tender plants that are creating the summer displays around the college. First to be removed to the safety of the greenhouse is the display in the Provost's Courtyard, for photographs of the display being planted up see blog entry 3rd June 'A New Central Display'

Having taken many hours to create, the display is gone in just 40 minutes. The majority of the plants were taken to the greenhouse and potted up for use next year, some were potted up as stock plants, in case the cuttings fail, and a few were taken to the compost heap.

By the end of the day the display is in a new form, all separated but in the warmth of the greenhouse.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Making Fresh Apple Juice

As the apples were being picked in the orchard, a demonstration, on a much smaller scale than the press used at Waterperry, was given throughout the day to show the process from fruit to juice. First apples were cut into pieces and placed into a crusher. 

The crank handle is turned crushing the fruit by a series of serrated rollers and hooked blades, dropping into a tray below.

The crushed apple is then tipped into the oak pressing cage. Pressing plates are then placed over the fruit and secured in place with a large iron nut.  

The iron bar is turned, pushing the plates down, squeezing the crushed apple and causing the juice to flow out into the base plate , then into the bucket or a waiting cup.

Graduates from the MCR (Middle Common Room) were shown the process at the end of their garden tour along with receiving samples of the fruit used and the juice. Passing students were given the refreshing juice as they passed the demonstration.

Apple Picking 2013

It's time to start picking the apples that will be part of this year's 'Worcester College Apple & Pear Juice', just apples today as the pears aren't quite ready yet.

Varieties picked were 'Newton Wonder', 'Spartan', 'Chiver's Delight', 'Golden Spire', 'Blenheim Orange', 'Orleans Reinette', 'Peggys Pride' and 'Luxton's Superb'. In the next few days these apples will be taken to Waterperry Gardens for storage until the more apples can be picked and the pears are ripe. Once all the fruit has been picked, the juicing will commence.