Friday, 5 December 2014

Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year

(L-R) Simon, Kieron, Ali, Ady, Graham, Danny, Callum, Joss

The team gathered for their annual Christmas photograph, hope you like them. Taken early than in previous years as this blog writer is finishing early, off to sunnier climes. The guys are still working, mulching, leafing and pruning, but this will be the last blog entry for this 'Tercentenary Year' so the team would all like to wish you a 'Merry Christmas and a Happy New year'. Thank you all for your comments, for following and reading our blog, please come back next year, 5th Of January 2015 is when it returns.
(L-R) Simon, Kieron, Ali, Graham, Ady, Danny, Callum, Joss

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Pruning The Climbing Roses

The pruning of the climbing roses has begun in earnest starting with the five roses on the cottages in the quadrangle. When pruning each rose the three 'D's are removed, the Dead, Diseased and Dying branches are cut out. The lateral shoots are reduced by two thirds to three quarters, usually to a bud facing in the direction the gardeners wish the new shoot to grow next year. Old, tired and week branches are removed, the strong new shoots are kept and tied in to fill in the gaps their removal creates.

The next of the climbing roses that will be pruned are the seven located on the top terrace along with the three Campsis and three Wisteria. More climbing roses can also be found at the back of the cottages behind the herbaceous border, all needing to be pruned.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Application Of The First Mulch

Ady, Graham and Callum began applying a mulch to the first of the many borders in the college gardens today. Starting in the Goldfish Bowl, where the herbaceous planting was cut back to ground level on the 18th November, they carefully added the mulch on to the border. This mulch is made up of the material collected last year's autumn leaf fall, herbaceous cut down and grass cuttings. Mixed regularly this material rots down into a rich, crumbly mixture that is used as a mulch, perfect for suppressing weeds, retaining moisture, improving soil structure and hiding debris left from the cut down.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Christmas Decorations

It is the last week of term so the gardeners have been decorating the plants in the cloisters and the Christmas tree in the Pump Quad. The three half standard Bay trees, lollipops, in the cloister's pots have had gold ribbon wound up the stems and 1.7 metres of battery powered, cool white, twinkle lights woven into each crown which come on as it gets dark.

The Christmas tree has been decorated with bell and chilli peppers grown by the gardeners, unlike last year when they were bought from one of the large well known supermarket chains. The chefs are preparing the other decorations, dried, thinly sliced orange pieces, which will be added to the tree on Wednesday.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Black(bird) Friday

Ali had an alternative 'Black Friday' today, a 'Blackbird Friday'! This bird was brought to her attention when it was spotted laying on the ground, wings spread out, struggling to breath, looking like it was dying. Picking it up, she noticed that the reason for this was an orange Pyracantha berry lodged in its throat, the bird was choking, unable to regurgitate it. As Ali gently massaged the bird's throat, the berry slowly moved up the from the crop so she could pull it out, unfortunately there were two more berries stuck that also needed to be removed. The bird seemed very accepting of her help and, once all offending berries had been removed, was happy to sit in a basket recovering from its ordeal. After half an hour of rest the bird was released, one lucky, greedy bird!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Pruning Of The Vines And Climbing Plants Begins

Actinidia deliciosa 'Jenny'
The pruning of the shrub roses has been completed so it is time to start the climbing plants, beginning with the vines and Kiwi fruit. The first, Actinidia deliciosa 'Jenny' (Kiwi Fruit), a vigorous growing, deciduous, climber whose lateral shoots are cut back to three or four buds beyond where the fruit was produced.

Vitis coignetiae 'Claret Cloak'
Moving on from the Kiwi fruit, the next climbers to be pruned were the ornamental vines, see blog entry 9th February 2011'Wires & Climbers' for how well these vines have grown since planting. These vines, Vitis coignetiae 'Claret Cloak' and Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea' are pruned to keep them tidy, shortening all the vigorous shoots back to the support wires.

Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea'
The last vine, the grape vine in the Pump Quad, is pruned whilst dormant, pruning back the laterals to two healthy buds. Now that the vines and Kiwi are complete the next to be pruned will be the climbing roses followed by the Wisteria, Campsis and fruit trees, plenty of pruning to keep the team busy over the coming winter months.

The Pump Quad Grape Vine

Monday, 24 November 2014

Choosing The Christmas Trees

Simon and Ali went up to Waterperry Gardens this, very cold morning to choose the four Christmas trees that will be on display at the college next month. Met by Chris Lanzack, Orchard Manager, they walked amongst the trees carefully choosing the right shape and size for the Dining Hall, Provost's Lodgings, Pump Quad and The Chapel.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Apple & Pear Juice For Sale

The apples and pears were picked and taken to Waterperry Gardens for pressing on the 1st October, see blog entry 'Apple Picking 2014'. The 24 crates of fruit resulted in 312 bottles which went on sale today and will continue to be sold on the next two Fridays. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Two Days In The Provost's Garden


Following on from The Goldfish Bowl, the team moved on to the next garden that was in desperate need of  their attention, The Provost's Garden. In The Rose Garden the one hundred roses needed pruning, the perennial under planting cut back and the beds weeded, enough to keep them busy for two days.


Starting in the garden yesterday they managed to complete half of the garden's ten formal rose beds so returned this morning to continue the tidy up. All the rose prunings were taken to the chipping pile, leaves and perennial material to the compost heap and the weeds to the skip. By the end of today, day two, all the formal beds were complete as well as the long bed that runs the entire length of the rose garden and the winter border. Unfortunately they ran out of daylight hours so will have to return another time to work on the two lodging borders.

Half Way, End Of Day One


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Cutting Back In The Goldfish Bowl

Having cut down the perennial plants in the herbaceous border last week the team focused their attention on  the garden by The Casson Building, known as The Goldfish Bowl. Until 11 o'clock they used the quiet, manual method of secateurs and hand shears but after this time the faster, and noisier, method was used, the hedge trimmers.

By the end of the day the four borders that create the 'bowl' had been cleared of their tired perennial display, leaving the shrubs and trees for the winter.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Tulip 'Black Hero' and 'Black Parrot'

Last year a further 750 tulips were planted in the herbaceous border, see blog entry 14th November 'A New Colour Scheme Of Tulips', adding to those that had been planted annually since 2009. Today 500 tulips were planted, a mix of 'Black Hero', a double flowered maroon-black tulip and 'Black Parrot', a dark maroon-black tulip with frilled margins and, as with last year, the bulbs were mixed in trugs before being thrown randomly over the border for a more natural, rather than regimented, look next spring.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Cutting Down The Herbaceous Border

Herbaceous Border (Left)

Herbaceous Border (Right)

The herbaceous border is very much past its best so it is that time of year again when the hedge cutters are brought out to cut it down. 

The birch basket plant supports, made back in April see blog entry for the 3rd 'Weaving Plant Supports', were pulled out of the border in order that the hedge cutters could cut through the plant material.

The hedge cutters quickly worked their way through the left half of the border. The cut down plant material was raked off, placed in the trailer and taken to the leaf pit at the far end of the sports field.

At 9:30am, an hour after they started, the noisy hedge cutters had to be changed to the quieter, and slower method of hand shears so as to not affect the tutorials that had started to take place.

By the end of the day the border had been cut down, cleared and raked, and the leaky hose rolled up and put away until next May. A layer of mulch will be added before Christmas.

Herbaceous Border (Left)

Herbaceous Border (Right)

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Clearing Out The Leaf Pits

The autumn leaf fall has been keeping the gardeners very busy having to rake and mow them up. The leaf pits have been filling up rapidly and are now at bursting point so need to be emptied before any further leaves are put into them. Joss and Ady the day clearing out one of the leaf pits transferring the contents by tractor and trailer to an empty pit at the far end of the college.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Wrapping Up The Tree Ferns

The nine tree ferns around the college grounds, 'Dicksonia antarctica' and 'Dicksonia fibrosa' have had their crowns wrapped in fleece today to protect them from the cold of the winter. For extra protection another layer, this time of hessian, will be added tomorrow.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Potting Up The Cuttings

The first of this year's cuttings were taken on the 12 September, see blog entry 'Cuttings 2014' and having been out of the mist unit for the past few weeks are ready to be potted on.

The clump of cuttings are carefully tapped out of their pot and gently teased apart making individual plants.

These new 'individuals' are planted into their own pots and, by the end of the session, the 20 pots of cuttings have resulted in 216 new plants.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Wallflowers, Polyanthus and Tulips At The Bottom Of The Quad

The border at the bottom of the quad is well past its best so yesterday the task of changing it from a summer to a winter display began.

The team removed all the annual plants and took them to the compost heap along with the tender plants that were not being kept as stock plants. The perennial plants were also cut down and the shrubs pruned.

The border was then weeded, forked through and a layer of mulch applied to the surface to improve the soil.

This morning the team returned to plant out the border, 180 Polyanthus 'Bright & Breezy Mixed' and 210 Wallflower 'Sunset Primrose'. Some 200 Tulip 'Lily Flowered Mix' were also planted adding to the 300 that went in to the border last year.