Friday, 29 November 2013

Hot & Spicy, With A Slice Of Orange

The 10 feet high, Norwegian Spruce Christmas tree has arrived and been put up in the Pump Quad using the new tree support built by Ady, see blog entry 18th November 'A Permanent Support For The Christmas Tree'.

Decorated this year by the gardeners, the decorations consist of yellow chilli peppers (grown by the gardeners), red chilli peppers (from India via Tesco), and dried slices of orange, (courtesy of the college chefs).

The unusual decorations have received a large number of positive comments from both students and staff, a new tradition in natural decorations has begun, lots more chilli peppers to be grown for next year.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Salix alba ssp. vitellina 'Yelverton'

On Tuesday, an area of overgrown shrubs and self seeded Sycamore tree saplings, at the far end of The Broadwalk, was cleared ready for it to be replanted yesterday.  

The new planting, four willow trees of the same variety, Salix alba ssp. vitellina 'Yelverton'. This variety, according to the label, has "A rich bronze-red coloured stem, height after 10 years up to 6 meters. Produces yellow or yellow-green catkins in spring". The result, a clear, open view across the lake providing both winter and spring interest.

Tree Hugging. (L-R) Kieron, Ady and Graham

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

'Spring Green' Not 'Spring Pink'

A year ago 50 Tulips, Spring Green in colour, were planted in the Serpentine Border but when they flowered in May they were all pink, see blog entry 13th May 'The Wrong Tulips'. The replacements have arrived, double the amount, but before they can be planted the perennial planting has to be cut down, although the grasses will be left until March. Hopefully when the 100 tulips flower next year they will be 'Spring Green' and not 'Spring Pink'!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Beautiful Beech

This photograph was taken in the Provost's Garden on Tuesday, the sun was setting and its fading light shone on beech tree as the day ended.

A Very Leafy Week

With the drop in temperatures, and overnight frosts, the leaves have been falling at an increased rate, testing the leaf clearing skills of the team. The ride-on-mowers, rakes, blowers, leaf pickers and even a Billy Goat have been used. 

The Billy Goat, not the animal, but a leaf vacuum, is used on the hard surface of the netball court at the far end of the sports field.

The leaves that fall into the lake are left in the water, providing some rest bite from picking up all the fallen leaves, no boat required, thankfully.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

1000 Scilla siberica

Simon, Graham and Ali spent a few hours today planting 1000 Scilla siberica bulbs under trees on the Nuffield lawn. Over the last five years thousands of snowdrops have been planted in the same area so, with the addition of these new bulbs, the white flowers, in February-March, will now be replaced by blue flowers in March-April.

These Scilla bulbs are perfect for naturalising and will spread beneath the trees, as well as being added to over the next three to four years, 1000 at a time.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

It's Happening Again!

It happened last week on the herbaceous border, again on Monday in the Goldfish Bowl, yesterday in front of the cottages and now it's happening in the Provost's Rose Garden! Using the hedge trimmer, shears and secateurs, the team have been working their way through the borders containing herbaceous perennials and cutting them down. Two borders are now left, The Serpentine in the Ruskin Building courtyard and the Gravel Garden in front of the Earl Building/Gloucester House building. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A Cold And Windy Spot

As the title of this blog entry suggests, the day for cutting down the herbaceous plants in front of the cottages was once again 'cold and windy'. Rarely warm, apart from 2011, Ali and Graham braved the bitterly cold wind, cutting down the Geranium 'Sue Crug', Anemone x hybrida and Alchemilla mollis leaving the Skimmia x confusa 'Kew Green' to provide the winter display.

Monday, 18 November 2013

A Permanent Support For The Christmas Tree

A Christmas tree was placed in the Pump Quad last year for the first time and, following the many positive comments received, another tree has been ordered for this year, see blog entries 26th November 2012 'Christmas Is Coming' and 13th December 2012 'Santa's Little Helpers'.  Preparations were made today for a more permanent method of support, rather than placing it in a pot. Ady dug a hole in the centre of the quad, put a wide pipe in the middle and cemented it in, hiding this by covering it up with a slab. Until the tree arrives, the display pot that usually occupies the centre of the quad, will remain in place and then moved when the new support is required.  

Thursday, 14 November 2013

A New Colour Scheme Of Tulips

Four years ago, November 2009, tulips were planted in the herbaceous border for the first time. The colours white, orange and red were the first, followed by purple and pink the following year. In the subsequent years, additional amounts of these colours have been added, all in the hope to recreate the colours seen in the summer. However, the resulting display is not as Simon had hoped for, so a change has be planned, starting today.

New colours of tulips have been chosen, 'Black Hero', 'Purple Dream' and 'China Pink, 750 in total, split between the two borders. The 15 packets were opened and emptied into two trugs and then mixed.

The team then spent a few hours planting the new tulip mix, but will have to wait until May to see if this new colour scheme is successful. The old tulips, unable to dig them all up, having been buried under numerous layers of thick mulch, will have to be cut down as they flower in order to weaken the bulb until they all eventually stop flowering.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Gone In A Day

The display in the herbaceous border has been looking tired for a weeks now, so today was the day for cutting it down. Using the hedge cutter, as in the previous two years, the border was cut down and cleared in a day.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

'Queen Of The Night', 'West Point', 'National Velvet' and 'China Pink'

The planting of the many tulip bulbs has continued over the last two days, as the team tries to make inroads into the huge numbers received this autumn. The spring bulb area, on the Nuffield Lawn, was next to be planted with 100 'Queen Of The Night'  bulbs, a black, straight stemmed, single cup tulip.

Next to be planted was the corner border, which has been waiting for its 200 yellow 'West Point' tulips since early October, see blog entry 11th October 'Adding The Royal Blue To The Sunset Orange'.

A further 100 tulips, an equal split of 'National Velvet' and 'China Pink', were added to the large number that have been planted in the orchard since January 2011, which began with an initial 350 bulbs.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

'Nemasys G', A Biological Treatment For Chafer Grubs

In recent weeks it has been noticed that Crows and Magpies have been gathering at the bottom of the Provost's lawn, pecking at the grass, making a mess. Another area of lawn, looking in bad shape with patches of dead grass, can be found in the back of one of the college properties. The culprit, Chafer Grubs, their favourite delicacy is grass roots.

Adult beetles lay their eggs in the turf, May to June, hatching a few weeks later. The grubs then feed on the roots and, as they reach their maturity in the autumn, the damage becomes more noticeable. The grass dies and, in the case of the Provost's lawn, the birds start to peck at the grass, feeding on the grubs. (Thank you birds for bringing it to our attention!)

Using a biological control, rather than a chemical one, Joss treated the area with 'Nemasys G', a microscopic worm, the Nematode, Heterohabditis megidis. Applied with the walkover sprayer, the nematodes, 250 million per tray, are mixed with water, and sprayed onto the affected areas. They enter the grubs, stopping them from feeding within three days of infection, causing them to die within 10-14 days. They complete their life cycle inside the grubs, then move into the soil to search for the next host, naturally occurring, they are safe, harmless to humans, pets and wildlife.

300 Lily Flowered Triumph Mixed Tulips

More of the large quantity of bulbs the team have to plant this autumn were planted today. The 300 'Tulip Lily Flowered Mix' were planted in the border at the bottom of the quad, in amongst the Wallflowers 'Sunset Primrose' that were planted last month, see blog entry 15th October 'From Summer Bedding To Spring Bedding'. Spring next year, at the far end of the quad as you walk through the college entrance, will be an explosion of colour, something to look forward too.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Wrapped Up Using A Butcher's Knot

Although there still seems to be no sign of the first frosts in Oxford, the hardy banana Musa basjoo, the only banana to be left outside in the winter, were wrapped up today.

In previous years there has only one plant to wrap up, but this year there are another three, usually taken into the greenhouse but now are far too big to dig up and move.

Kieron, with Anna our student volunteer, spent the morning wrapping all the plants, now looking like stalagmites or pillars of salt rising out of the herbaceous border, safe for the winter, they hope. (Interesting note, look at the carefully tied string, it's a 'Butcher's Knot', the banana plants wrapped up like pieces of meat ready for roasting, there must be an ex chef amongst the team!)

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Labelling The Apple And Pear Juice

The first of the bottles from the pressing of the apples and pears, picked on the 9th and 17th of October, have arrived back from Waterperry Gardens. The juicing process has resulted in 420 bottles of 'Worcester College Apple & Pear Juice' and they all need labelling. Kieron and Ali started to label them today, managing 150 bottles, which will be on sale this Friday.