Thursday, 28 August 2014

Respraying The Grass On The Banks

The grass on the banks was sprayed with a weedkiller two weeks ago but hasn't died off as Joss had hoped, see blog entry 15th August 'Killing Off The Grass On The Banks'. Therefore, it was agreed that it would need another spray so Simon and Joss put on their chemical suits again and spent a further three hours applying the second application of weedkiller with a knapsack sprayer.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Deep Cleaning The Greenhouse

The greenhouse has stood empty since the end of June, see blog entry 30th June 'An Empty Greenhouse', but it has been too hot to go inside to start the deep clean. With the weather having cooled in recent weeks, Ali saw this as the perfect opportunity to clean it in preparation for the return of the plants which will start with the cuttings in mid September.

First the floor was blown through and all the leaf debris from the previous twleve months collected, then, dressed in a chemical suit, wellington boots and rubber gloves, Ali scrubbed all the aluminium staging with a scourer pad dipped in buckets of hot water and Jeyes Fluid disinfectant. Once the staging had been cleaned, the floor was given a Jeyes Fluid wash using a watering can. To finish the clean the glass was power washed and, once everything had dried, the wooden shelving was put back on top of the staging.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Potting Up 690 Plug Plants

The temperature has dropped from those felt through the hot summer months since the first week in June, making it feel quite autumnal outside. With this in mind, it feels only right to be going back into the greenhouse to pot up the 690 wallflower plug plants that will help create next the floral display for next spring. Arriving late yesterday afternoon, the first 100 were potted up in the quarter of an hour before home time, the remainder were put in to their individual pots this morning.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Cutting The Canal Side Hedge

The hardest hedge to maintain, due to its location, is the canal side hedge. Bordered on one side by the Oxford Canal and the other side by the Broadwalk shrubs, the access to cut the hedge is restricted, so a path has to be cut to get to it. Once in, the hedge can be cut, which was started today by Graham and Ali. The process of cutting its entire length can take time, see blog entry for 14th September 2011 'After Five Weeks', with the team working along the hedge, dividing it into smaller sections.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Killing Off The Grass On The Banks

The day has come for the grass on the banks to be killed off. Yesterday afternoon, Joss placed string guidelines along the banks to make the process of spraying easier, dividing them into sections.

This morning, he and Simon worked their way along the banks using a knapsack sprayer to apply the liquid herbicide, Proliance Quattro. A sheet of plastic was held up along the string to prevent any drift of the chemical onto the quad lawn. Over the coming weeks the grass will now start to die, turning brown, making it easier to remove in preparation for reseeding.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

A Huge Pile Of Chipping

Over the last few months, a huge pile of woody material, needing to be chipped, has built up at the bottom of the sports field, the last of which was added following the cutting back of shrubs around the field, see blog entry 7th August 'Around The Sports Field'. Today Ady, Callum and Ali spent three hours untangling the wood and feeding it through the chipper, creating a new pile of wood chip to be used as a decorative mulch around the college grounds in the future.

A New Gate For The Orchard

The top part of the orchard is occasionally used as an overflow car park, with the entrance/exit cordoned off by unsightly orange guard barriers, so three weeks ago the process to change this began.

The awful looking barriers, that are always blowing over in the wind, are being replaced by a new, wrought iron gate that has been made by 'Cotswold Decorative Ironworkers'. Before the gates can be hung the posts had to be put in place, carefully measured out by Kieron and Danny, the holes were dug out and the first post put in. 

On Tuesday the second fence post was put in place, four new yew planted next to the posts and the gate hung. Today three tonnes of hoggin was delivered and spread in front of the gates, raising the level of the hard surface to that of the grass area behind them, a piece of decking was put into the ground to separate the two areas. 

A layer of top soil was then raked over the grass and seed broadcast over the top, to speed up germination, fleece was pinned down over it.

The entrance/exit to the orchard is now guarded by a beautiful, hand crafted, wrought iron gate. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Mowing The Banks For The Last Time, (For A While Anyway)

The task of mowing the banks was seen in the college for the last time today, for a while anyway, because, on Friday, the grass will be killed off as the decision has been made to replace it. In September 2009, the banks were returfed with a Crested Hairgrass, Koeleria macrantha, but have been plagued with an infestation of a rogue grass since that time, see blog entry 10th October 2011 'Brown Patches' for a previous attempt to remove it. The spraying of the grass with a glyphosate based herbicide will start the long process of replacing the grass, only this time it will be seeded with Ryegrass and not turf.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Cutting Down The Long Grass

The areas of long grass in the college gardens are now beginning to flop so it's time for them all to be cut down. The first three areas to be cut were in the Fellow's garden, Nuffield lawn and the Provost's garden leaving the largest area, the orchard, to be cut down today. Using the Iseki ride-on-mower with the cutting deck and blade height set at its highest setting, Joss cut down the grass whilst Callum, using the mulch mower, worked on the areas around the trees.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Around The Sports Field

Nelson Street Path

Ady, Callum, Kieron and Graham have spent the last three days maintaining the area around the sports field. A regular mid summer task, see blog entry 10th August 2010 'Back Behind The Line' and 28th July 2011 'Strimmed, Trimmed, Blown and Sawn'  they sarted by working their way up the Nelson Street path, cutting back the over grown shrubs, trimming the box hedges and strimming down the long grass. Having completed this first section they moved to the canal path, tidying this area and finally finishing by cutting back all the over hanging shrubs that border the sports field.

Canal Path
Sports Field

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Perfect Conditions For Box Hedge Trimming

The trimming of the box hedge, the longest in the college grounds, was started two weeks ago, see blog entry 24th July 'The Trimming Of The Long Box Hedge Begins'. Since then the sun has been shining and the risk of scorching too great to continue the task, until today, when the sun hid behind the clouds creating perfect conditions for box hedge trimming.

Joss took full advantage of the cooler, cloudy weather and finished trimming the hedge. Another hedge finished, a few more still to go though.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Cucumber 'Bella'

This year's cucumber 'Bella' has been producing a large number of fruit, the longest has been measured at 17 inches! These long cucumbers are giants when compared to the 'mini' cucumber varieties that have been grown in previous years. Crisp and sweet in flavour, this cucumber is becoming a firm favourite of the team.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Leonotis nepetifolia (Lion's Ear)

This year the plant that has raised the most enquiries as to its name is Leonotis nepetifolia, the Lion's Ear. In previous years it has been 'Gomphocarpus physocarpus', and 'Aeonium arboreum 'Schwarzkopf', see blog entries on the 12th August 2013, but they have been surpassed by the numerous enquiries about this 6-8 foot tall, unusual looking plant. A member of the mint family, these plants were grown from seed in the spring and now form part of the display in the hot colour section of the herbaceous border and corner border.    

The exotic, bright orange, tufted clusters of flowers encircle the strong, erect stems every 8-12 inches, with the new clusters developing at the top of the stems as the plant grows taller and taller. A stunning plant that will continue to draw the attention of visitors to the gardens, all asking the same question "What is that tall, orange flowered plant?