Friday, 26 June 2015

Merit Turf, A Granular Insecticide Control For Chafer Grub

Today Joss, using the walkover spreader, applied a granular insecticide called 'Merit Turf' as a preventative measure to the quad lawn against the dreaded Chafer Grub. Best applied between May and July, prior to the eggs hatching, the insecticide will protect the grass from the grubs as they hatch and feed on the roots. For an example of the damage that can be caused refer to the blog entry for the 1st June 2011 'Chafer Grub', this image is not what Joss wants to see on the quad lawn! With no substantial amount of rainfall due over the next 24 hours the watering system was switched on to wash the granules in immediately.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Lavender In The Sainsbury Building Planters

February 11th 2015

Four Months On

 Four months ago the team completed the project to bring the large planters on the Sainsbury Building's balconies back in to use, see blog entries 2nd February 'Rope, Two Trugs And Five Tonnes Of Soil', 4th February 'Reattaching Taps, Soaker Hose And Weed Suppressing Membrane' and 11th February '3 Planters, 69 Lavender Plants And A Tonne Of Gravel'. As can be seen from the photographs the project is a success, the lavender have grown well in the planters and are now in flower, their wonderful perfume attracting many insects.

February 11th 2015

Four Months On

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The Success And Failures Of The College Waterfowl

The Abandoned Swan nest
There have been success and failures within the waterfowl community on the college lake this year. Starting with the bad news, a number of mallards had broods of ducklings but none survived for more than 48 hours, the Moorhen chicks didn't survive much longer. The biggest disappointment though was finally realised this week, no cygnets again, the swans abandoned their nest and their 3 eggs today after 9 weeks incubating them. This is the third year that their eggs have not hatched but, as with last year, the swans have remained on the lake.

5 Weeks Old
The good news, the success of the Canada Geese in the raising of their two goslings. At 5 weeks old the flight feathers are growing from the blue quills, see above photo.

6 Weeks Old
At 6 weeks old the white undertail, black head and neck with the white chinstrap are all visible, the goslings looking more and more like their parents.

7 Weeks Old
Today, at 7 weeks old the fluffy down has almost all gone and their flight feathers continue to grow and will, by 9-10 weeks old look like their parents feathers, see below for photo. 

Adult Canada Goose Flight Feathers
Two contrasting stories, maybe next year it will be the swans turn for success.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Preparing The Rose Garden For The Staff Garden Party

The team spent the day working together in the Provost's rose garden preparing it for the evening's event, The Staff Garden Party. The grass was mown and edged, the rose beds weeded and the many hundreds of dead heads on the roses were removed. At the end of the working day the garden was ready for the staff and Fellows to enjoy themselves in the beautiful garden. 

Friday, 19 June 2015

Painting The Grass Green

Four weeks ago Joss applied the first treatment of a growth regulator to the grass on the banks, see blog entry 22nd May 'Applying A Liquid Grass Growth Regulator And Fertiliser'. The second treatment was applied today but this time with the green dye spray pattern indicator, 'Eye SPI', added to the chemical mix, this raised a question from passers by, "Why are you painting the grass green?". It did look like this was what he was doing, but the dye was used to show Joss exactly where he had sprayed so that no areas were missed and not as it looked, to make the grass look a richer green! The dye only lasted 24 hours, he will repeat this process in four weeks time, 17th July.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Preparing For The Annual Jericho Run

The team spent the day preparing the paths around the sports ground for the 5th annual Jericho Run which takes place this Sunday, 21st June. Both the 10k adult run and the 1 mile children's run will bring the runners through the college grounds, about 400 adults and 275 children running for charity. 

The paths were raked, over hanging shrubs cut back and overgrown borders strimmed down. Over the next few days Heras temporary fencing and wooden fence posts with a rope line will be erected to guide the runners safely through the college. This is the third year the grounds have been used as part of the course for this family event.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Dracunculus vulgaris (Dragon Arum)

Beneath the large canopy of the Indian Bean Tree, Catalpa speciosa, a rather unusual flower has appeared. Produced by the Dragon arum, Dracunculus vulgaris, it's not only the flower that catches your attention but the smell! There is no sweet smelling fragrance coming from this inflorescence but a the foul smell of rotting meat that attracts the flies to pollinate it. A wonderfully unique plant to see in the gardens, but you have to be quick as the flowers only last a day. Below is a short video for you to witness this unusual spectacle, just not the smell.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A Touch Of Tropical In The Linbury

Many of the large specimen plants have already been moved from the greenhouse and planted out in the herbaceous border. However a few have been left behind and, as the border is now full, a place for them in other areas of the gardens needed to be found. The chosen spot, the border in the corner of the Linbury Building courtyard.   

Danny and Callum, working amongst the existing shrubs, Euphorbia mellifera, Cornus alba, Nandina domestica, Fagus sylvatica (Copper Beech) and Hebe speciosa, planted many of the remaining large specimen plants to create a touch of tropical in the Linbury corner. The plants they added were Strelitzia nicolai (Giant Bird of Paradise), Albizia (Mimosa), Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island Date Palm), Philodendron bipinnatifidum, Alocasia (Elephant Ear), Heliconia psittacorum (Parakeet Flower, Parrot's Beak) and ferns.

Callum and Danny
19th June Update:
More plants have been added to the border today, Colocasia esculenta (Taro), Canna glauca (Canna Lily), Impatiens tinctoria (large Impatiens) and Cycas revoluta (Sago Palm)

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Akebia longeracemosa

Two species of Akebia are growing in the gardens, quinata and longeracemosa. Vigorous scrambling climbers, commonly known as the Chocolate vine, they are perfect for growing over old tree stumps and along wires. You will find Akebia quinata in two places in the gardens, over the old Holm Oak stump by the lake and along wires on a wall between the orchard and The Nash Building. Flowering later than the quinata, Akebia longeracemosa can be found scrambling along wires on The Sainsbury Building platform. The flowers are long, vanilla scented and maroon-chocolate in colour, the male flowers hang beneath the female flowers. 

Male and Female Flowers of Akebia longeracemosa

Friday, 5 June 2015

Sweet Pea 'Midnight', 'Wiltshire Ripple' and 'Jilly'

This year's Sweet Pea, Lathyrus odoratus, have been hardening off in the cold frames for some time waiting for the gardeners to plant them. A good size now, Simon and Danny erected the canes to create a frame in the cut flower bed, covered with pea netting before planting the young plants, carefully tying in the longest shoots. In preparation of their planting, Callum had dug a deep trench and filled it full of organic matter from the compost heap to feed these hungry plants. The variety chosen is 'Mulberry Mixed' from Chiltern Seeds which include 'Midnight', 'Wiltshire Ripple' and 'Jilly'. a mixture of dark purple and white flowers.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

First Recorded Visit Of A Reed Warbler To the College

The Reed Beds Where The Reed Warbler Was Heard

Reed Warbler (photo taken by Ali at RSPB Ottmor, Oxfordshire)

When feeding the ducks before work started this morning Ali heard a rare sound from the reeds across the way. Upon further investigation the sound was identified although not seen, the sound was of a Reed Warbler. Never heard before at Worcester College, the bird remained in amongst the reeds, singing all day, well hidden from her camera so only a 30 second piece of film was recorded with the warbler's song heard in the background (along with a Blackbird and human voices.) A small brown bird that is a summer visitor to the UK, confirmation of the song can be found at
PS This bird remained in the reeds for one day, hasn't been heard since.

Three Rusty Iron Crates

28th April 2015

29th May 2015

The team have working on the corner border since last Friday, 29th May, clearing out all the wallflowers and lifting the tulips.

Once the winter display had been removed, wallflowers to the compost heap and the tulips placed in trays to dry out, the box balls were clipped, the border weeded, fed with the granular fertiliser Growmore, and levelled ready for planting.

1st June 2015
On Monday, 1st June, the plants were brought over from the greenhouse and cold frames ready for planting.

Once Simon and Ali had placed them out in to their planting positions the plants, grown from cuttings and seed, were planted by Ady, Graham and Danny.

This year's plants for this display are as follows; Rudbeckia hirta 'Cappucino', Antirrhinum majus 'Black Prince', Antirrhinum majus 'Royal Bride', Eupatorium capillifolium, Nicotiana langsdorffii, Tagetes tenuifolia 'Paprika', Rudbeckia hirta 'Toto', Zinnia marylandica 'Zahara Sunburst', Abutilon x hybridum 'Waltz', Alonsoa meridionalis, Panicum elegans 'Frosted Explosion', Zinnia elegans 'Envy Double', Pelargonium tomentosum and Mina lobata

Three bamboo canes were placed in the border by Simon and the team were told that something was going to be delivered in a few days, the canes marked the spot where these items were going to be placed.

4th June 2015

This morning at half past ten the mysterious items were delivered, three large rusty, but beautiful crates. The crates were carefully placed in the spaces the canes had marked, two on their ends and one on its side.

Once in situ, potted Aeonium arboreum Schwarzkopf were placed in the crates. These wonderful dark succulents are usually planted in the border amongst the other plants but soon disappear as all around them grow. This year they have pride of place and are already causing quite a stir

In the border opposite it looks like some of these succulents have managed to escape from the confines of their crates, underplanted with a black pincushion flower, Scabious 'Ace Of Spades'.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Triple Width Diagonal Lawn Pattern

The wavy stripes mowing pattern seen in April on the the quad lawn didn't last long, see blog entry for the 17th 'Creating A New Pattern On The Quad Lawn'. The replacement triple width diagonal stripes have now embedded themselves on the turf and the waves have disappeared from view.

Today Joss set about adding a further set of triple width diagonal stripes across the existing pattern. Using a guide line he mowed along it to create the first straight stripe, working off these first stripes to create the others. It is not the cylinder cutting deck that creates the stripes but the forward motion of the roller that cause the blades of grass to bend in that direction resulting in a stripe. For these wide stripes the mower is pushed in the same direction three times.

 The quad now has its new pattern for summer 2015 'triple width diagonal'.