Friday, 30 January 2015

Cutting Down Low Maintenace Ornamental Grasses


Two of the borders up at The Canal Building are full of low maintenace, ornamental grasses which have turned to a straw brown in colour and are well past their best display.

This morning they were cut down using the petrol hedge trimmer. The dry stems were then raked up and taken to the compost heaps where they will be mixed in with grass cuttings, leaves, herbaceous material and shredded paper.

Once the two borders had been raked clear a top dressing of wood chip was added. These low maintenance, ornamental grass borders will be visited again this time next year.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Low Maintenance Lavender Planters

Lavender Planter - August 2014

In August 2014 the project to convert the large planters on the Sainsbury Building balconies to low maintenance lavender gardens began. Three of the planters had all the weeds removed, new top soil added, the leaky pipe watering system renewed and reconnected, and weed suppressing membrane placed over the new soil but only one had lavender planted through the membrane and a layer of gravel spread on top. Five months on, the completed planter has matured well so the other two have now been planted up, leaving three left to be completely rejuvenated next week. 

Lavender Planter - January 2015 (5 Months Later)

The plants were positioned in their pots, crosses cut in the membrane sufficient for them to be planted through and the edges folded back. The soil was carefully removed, the lavender placed in the holes and the edges folded back around each plant. A top dressing of gravel was added and the plants watered in. (One of the planters is planted up with Cornus and Bay as well as Lavender)

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Coppicing At The Harcourt Arboretum

Coppiced Birch


Last year Ali spent a training day at The Harcourt Arboretum coppicing birch that is used to make the plant supports for the herbaceous border, see blog entry 26th February 'Coppicing Birch'.

A Cleared Coppice Wood

Today she returned with Callum and Danny to work with the team from the Oxford Botanical Gardens, coppicing enough birch and hazel for this year's plant supports. Coppicing is the repetitive cutting down of multi stemmed trees which then regrow from dormant buds from the stump that is left behind. Using sharp saws they made their way through a small birch wood cutting down young stems, processing them for use as supports and binding them up in groups of ten ready for transporting to Worcester and the Botanics. Once sufficient stems of birch had been cut they moved on to the hazel coppice. All the off cuts of wood from the processing were burnt in a controlled bonfire.

Birch Bundles

Controlled Burning

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Goldfinch On A Teasel

Not the best of photographs but it captures a moment Ali has been waiting for, a Goldfinch on a teasel head. The teasels have been planted out in the garden for a few years now but this is the first time a goldfich has been spotted feeding on the tiny seeds in the dry, prickly head. Thank you Mr Beardmore for proving the teasels.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Moving An Apple Tree

In an area that was once the student vegetable garden but is now derelict and awaiting the start of the building of a new lecture theatre, an apple tree is in need of a new home in the college orchard.

Best transplanted when dormant, Ali and Graham carefully dug around the roots hoping to keep as much of the root system as possible. The tree was then taken to the bottom orchard, a large hole dug and some organic matter added to the hole. The tree was then gently placed in to the hole, the removed soil back filled and heeled in around the root ball. A wooden stake was inserted at an angle next to the tree and a tree tie used to secure it to the stake to prevent it moving while the new root system is established. The branches were then pruned back so there will be less for the roots to support when the tree goes in to leaf. Finally it was given a good watering in.   

Top Dressing The Paths

Only some of the 10 tonnes of gravel that arrived on Monday was used behind the Linbury Building, the remainder has been used to refresh some of the college paths.

The first path to receive a freshen up was the one that runs aside the Nuffield Lawn down to the lake.

The second path to receive a new top dressing of gravel was the Broadwalk aside the spring border and lake. More gravel is now needed to continue refreshing other paths in the college grounds.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Cutting Down The Marginal Planting

Working together at the water's edge, Ali and Graham spent the day cutting down the marginal planting behind the weir. Having first removed the temporary, wire fencing to gain access to the planting, Graham, using the long reach hedge cutter, cut it down.

Ali, following behind Graham, raked the cut down marginals away from the edge placing it in to tonne bags for transporting to the skip.

Graham then made a second, lower cut taking the marginals to ground level. After a final rake through, a layer of wood chip mulch was applied to the area.   

Continuing To Brighten Up A Dingy Corner Behind The Linbury Building

Last year the team started a project to brighten up a dark, forgotten corner behind the Linbury Building, see blog entry 27th January and 29th January,  'Gravelling A Dingy Corner' and 'Weed Suppressing Membrane With Gravel On Top'.

On Friday, Danny and Callum started to work on the next section of the project adjoining last year's area. Weed suppressing membrane was laid over the ground, which had been sprayed with a weed killer last autumn, and pegged in place. The membrane was then cut around the drain covers and a wooden edge surround built around them.

Today the gravel arrived and was wheelbarrowed in from its delivery site, tipped over the membrane and raked level.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Cutting Down The Ornamental Grasses

The ornamental grasses and perennial planting in the Serpentine Garden of the Ruskin Building have started to look untidy over the last few weeks. Using secateurs and hand shears they were carefully cut down revealing the different sized box balls and the newly emerging Muscari (Grape Hyacinth), Tulip 'Spring Green' and Allium 'Purple Sensation'.    

Once the cutting down had been finished leaves, debris and weeds were removed and the border forked through.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Tidying The Canal Building Grounds

The Canal Building, located at the top end of the sports field, is where you will have found Ady, Graham, Callum, Ali and Danny today. They spent the whole day tidying the grounds around the building, pruning shrubs, removing ivy, raking out the last of the autumn leaves and renovating an overgrown beech hedge.

The beech hedge, the top of which had not been pruned for a number of years, had become too tall for such a small area so needed to be reduced. When renovating a beech hedge this is best done when dormant so from now until end of February is a suitable time. Reduced by half, and its side trimmed back, the hedge will, hopefully, be attended to annually to keep its growth in control.

Friday, 9 January 2015

A Week Working On Wisteria And Climbing Roses

With the climbers in the quad pruned before Christmas the team turned their attention to those at the back of the ancient cottages. All week the ladders have been up against the stone as they chopped, pruned, rewired and put up new wires for the Wisteria and climbing roses.

Several new wires had to be put up to anchor the old,  heavy stems of Wisteria as well as the new stems of the roses which took some time. Five days and the work is now complete, now they have to wait until the April/May for the Wisteria to flower before they start to see the fruits of their labour.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Happy New Year, Welcome To 2015

Quad Top Terrace

Happy New Year and Welcome Back to the gardener's blog for what will be its 7th year. Although Ali finished work in early December last year, the rest of the team continued to work until the college shut down on the 23rd. Pruning, mulching and leafing remained top priority as the year drew to a close.

Wisteria, Campsis and Roses

All the remaining climbers in the front quad were pruned, Wisteria, Campsis and roses all completed a month earlier than in previous years.


Nuffield Lawn Bulb Area, Autumn Leaf Fall (November 2014)

Once the last few leaves had fallen, the herbaceous borders, that were cut down and cleared in mid November, were mulched as well as the bulb area beneath the Hornbeam, Yew and Beech trees on the Nuffield Lawn. A rather busy end to the year, lets see what 2015 will bring!

Nuffield Lawn Bulb Area, Mulched (December 2014)