Friday, 26 September 2014

Unveiling The New Grass On The Banks

The grass seed was sown on the 15th September and has been covered in horticultural fleece since. Joss has been checking under this white blanket daily to see how the seed is germinating and, now that the banks are sufficiently green, the fleece has been removed. Over the next few weeks the seed will continue to germinate and the areas of brown soil will turn green as the new grass emerges.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Two New Areas For Wildflowers


Areas of wildflowers have been introduced the gardens over the last few years to increase the variety of pollinating insects whose numbers, worldwide, have been steadily declining and to reintoduce wildflower species, many of which have steadily declined over the last 60 years. Last year one such area was developed in the Fellow's garden, see blog entry 26th September 2013 'Wildflowers In The Fellow's Garden', successfully creating a wildflower meadow, see blog entry 14th May 2014 'The First Wildflower 'Fairy Toadflax'.  

Nuffield Lawn

Following its success two more areas have been created today, one in the orchard and the other on the Nuffield Lawn. The ground was prepared by mowing and scarifying the grass to reveal bare earth then this was raked to a fine tilth. The wildflower seed was mixed with silver sand, scattered over the soil, gently raked in and rolled. The seed mix contains the following wildflowers; Betony, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Bulbous Buttercup, Californian Poppy, Catsear, Cowslip, Common Knapweed, Cornflower, Fairy Toadflax, Ladys Bedstraw, Oxeye Daisy, Salad Burnet, Self Heal, Shirley Poppy, White Campion and Yellow Rattle. 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A New Lakeside Border For Iris sibirica 'Flight Of The Butterflies'

Ali and Graham spent the day working by the lake creating a new border. Being very careful not to fall in, they striped the turf from the area to reveal the compacted soil.

Once all the turf had been removed they then spent the afternoon forking it through, breaking up the soil in to smaller clods then breaking them down to a fine tilth. Leaf mould will be added tomorrow, forking it in and dressing the surface. Iris sibirica 'Flight Of The Butterflies' will then be planted in the new border, an excellent waterside plant with violet blue, white veined flowers.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Log Piles And A Bug Hotel

For a number of years the gardeners have been making homes around the woodland areas of the college grounds in the form of log piles. Some of the wood from trees that have been cut down have been put in various sized piles to provide a habitat for small and large animals. The dead, decaying wood provide food and homes for insects and fungi who, in turn, provide food for the larger animals.

A more luxurious version of the log pile has now been built and placed in a suitable spot along the path next to the canal hedge, the gardener's first Bug Hotel. Built with old pallets, bricks, roof tiles and filled with straw, logs, pine cones, bark and old hollow stems from herbaceous plants, it provides the same habitat as the log piles but on a grand scale.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Grass Seed and Horticultural Fleece

Joss and Danny spent the day working together on the banks. Their first task was to scatter a Preseed fertiliser over the soil which will provide essential nutrients for the germinating Perennial Rye Grass seed that they scattered over the fertiliser. A large board was held at the bottom and the top of the banks to prevent the seed from landing on the paths.

Once sown, horticultural fleece was carefully laid over the seed to help create the perfect conditions for it to germinate and protect it from hungry birds.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Cuttings 2014

The overnight and morning temperatures have dropped so it is time to start taking cuttings from the tender plants out in the gardens. Ali collected the first few pieces from some of the plants yesterday, a few pelargonium, salvia and plectranthus to start with. This will continue next week until the mist unit is filled.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Aerating And Overseeding The Quad Lawn

Now that all the thatch has been removed from the quad lawn, Joss spent a few hours this morning aerating it with the 'Groundsman Turf Aerator', plunging tines into the ground to make holes in the turf allowing air, nutrients and water to reach the roots. 

After he had finished the aerating Joss covered the bald patches, created by the scarifying, with top soil which were then overseeded with grass seed. An autumn/winter feed will be applied tomorrow.

A New Metal Edge And A Stone Filled Gully

Whilst the quad was being scarified Kieron and Callum continued to put in the new metal edge along the back of the banks to support the soil.

Once they had finished the new, wider gully, that had been created behind the metal, was filled with the decorative stone, Golden Flint. The soil on the banks will be levelled and raked tomorrow in preparation for the reseeding next week.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Scarifying Of The Quad Is Complete

The final cutting height of 12mm has been achieved, a reduction of 9mm since the scarification started on Monday. The amount of thatch being removed from the turf has slowed so, by the end of the day, the scarification of the quad lawn is complete.

The Quad Lawn 6th June 2014 (Before)

The Quad Lawn 10th September 2014 (After)

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Scarifying Of The Quad Lawn Continues

Joss and Simon returned to the quad to continue scarifying it. The tonne bags, strategically placed around the quad, were filled up rapidly all day with the huge amount of thatch and grass cuttings being expelled by the mowers.

Ali spent the day loading the heavy bags into the trailer, transporting them to the compost area and unloading them, creating a huge pile of grass.

The scarifying will continue tomorrow, and the pile of grass will get larger and larger!

Monday, 8 September 2014

The Scarifying Of The Quad Lawn Begins

The project of replacing the grass on the banks in well under way with the new metal edging now being put in place. Whilst this continues on around them, Joss and Simon begin the task of scarifying the quad lawn and will continue to work on the grass over the next few days.

Last scarified in 2011, see blog entries for August 'Two Men, Two Mowers', 'What Has Happened To The Lawn?' and 'Very Brown', Simon uses the Dennis mower with the scarifying cartridge installed, riping out the thatch that has built up over the last three years. Following a few rows behind him, Joss, using the Alllet mover, cuts the grass that has been raised by the scarifying, cutting at a height of 21mm (this height will steadily be reduced over the next few days to a planned 12-13mm). The duo will return tomorrow to continue the scarification.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Stripping The Turf And A New Metal Edge

The grass on the banks has now died sufficiently to enable it to be removed. The stripping of the turf started on Wednesday on the first section of the banks.

On Thursday, Simon and Kieron put a new metal edge in place along the top edge whilst Joss and Callum began stripping the turf on the larger section of banks.

Today Joss and Callum were joined by Simon and Danny stripping the turf until the final piece of dead grass had been removed.

The next step will be to put in a metal edge at the top of this section of the bank, to be done next week.

Potting Up 120 Pansy And 230 Primula

On Monday Ali and Graham spent an hour in the newly cleaned greenhouse potting up the 120 'Pansy Panola XP Purple' that have been grown from seed. Sown on the 16th July and pricked out in early August in to their individual cells they are now ready to go in to small flower pots.

Today the last of the order from Ball Colegrave arrived, 230 'Primula Alaska Bight & Breezy'. Returning the greenhouse Ali, this time with Danny, potted the tiny plants in to larger individual cells. This marks the end of all the pricking out and potting up of the plants that will make up the winter/spring 2014/15 display, a total 1280 plants!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Clipping The Box Balls

Due to the hot, sunny summer the 30 box balls is the Serpentine beds have not been clipped yet due to the risk of scorching. The sun has been hidden behind the clouds in recent days so it is, at last, the perfect conditions to give them their annual clip. The clipping of the balls has the added difficulty of being hidden amongst the grasses and herbaceous perennials that surround each one of them, making them very awkward to reach. To make them more accessible Ali put forks around the base of each box and pushed back the foliage giving her plenty of room to work. After each one was clipped the forks were removed and the surrounding foliage fell back in to place.