Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The First Bulbs Are Planted For Flowering In 2016

2885 Bulbs

This year's bulb ordered arrived mid September and have been stored in a cool, dark shed since then waiting to be planted. This autumn the team will plant 2885 bulbs in the garden starting with 10 Eremurus 'White Beauty' (Foxtail Lily).

Eremurus or Giant Spiders?

The Eremurus were taken to the part of the garden known as the goldfish bowl for planting in one of the three borders. The bulbs have an unusual shape, like giant spiders or jellyfish out of water, long fleshy, tuberous roots fanning out from the crown. 

Eremurus In Shallow Holes

Six shallow holes were dug in the well drained soil, a thin layer of horticultural grit placed in the bottom, the bulbs placed on top of the grit and covered in soil. Next summer tall, majestic white flower spikes will soar above the lower planting below them.

Planting Daffodils Around The Hornbeam

Having planted the Eremurus, Danny and Ali were joined by Simon in the Provost's garden to plant 300 Narcissus 'Thalia', a pure white, multi-headed, rather elegant flowered daffodil. The site chosen, a sunny spot around a Hornbeam, Carpinus betulus.

200 Tulips Bulbs, National Velvet and China Pink

With the daffodils planted next came the first of the tulips, 200 for planting in the orchard, Tulipa National Velvet and China Pink, to add to the previous years planting. Tipped in to a trug and mixed up, the tulips were planted in the grass in singles, twos and threes, the combinations of the deep velvet red and pink will be unknown until April when they flower beneath the apple blossom.   

Planting In The Orchard

The bulb planting will continue over the next 4-6 week in the borders, grass and containers until all 2885 have been planted.
The bulbs planting list for this year: Tulip Angelique, Attila, Black Hero, Black Parrot, Candela, China Pink, City Of Vancouver, Irene Parrot, Jan Reus, Menton, National Velvet, Queen of the Night, Shirley, Spring Green, Sun Lover, White Marvel and Cum Laude; Eremurus 'White Beauty'; Narcissus 'Thalia'; Cyclamen persicum; Camassia leichtlinii 'Caerulea'; Allium 'Purple Sensation'; Iris reticulata 'J.S. Dijt'; Fritillaria meleagris and Fritillaria imperialis 'Aurora'.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Pruning Lavender (Leaving Some For The Bees Though)

The lavender planters on the balconies of the Sainsbury Building are almost ready to be pruned but with the students due back at the college in the coming week, and the only access to the planters being through their rooms and kitchens, the pruning has had to be done before all the flowers have faded. (To see how these planters have matured since they were planted see blog entry 11th February '3 Planters, 69 Lavender Plants and A Tonne Of Gravel'.

Using secateurs Simon, Danny and Ali carefully removed the flower stalks and a few inches of this year's growth to create neat, compact plants.

After completing the first three planters and, having noticed the large number of bees that were still visiting the flowers, the gardeners had a crisis of conscience about taking away their source of nectar so decided to leave pruning the plants in the final planter until all the flowers have faded. 

Left For The Bees, Lavender In Full Flower

Bee Enjoying The Nectar

Monday, 28 September 2015

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Privet Hedge

The privet hedge in the car park is cut two to three times a year and today was the final time for 2015. However, Simon and Danny decided to make a few changes to the usual wavey design and create a shape based on the popular childrens book  'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'. Tapering the end to create a tail, cutting a hole for an eye and removing a small section for the mouth the caterpillar soon emerged, only this one will not turn in to a butterfly! 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Making Use Of The Scaffolding

July 2015

The Rose, Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' was pruned in July after it had finished flowering, see blog entry 17th July 'FromThe Top Of A Long Ladder'. Due to the height of the rose it is a two man job, one working a the top of the long ladder whilst the other foots the ladder.

As the scaffolding is in place for the next two to three weeks it is the ideal opportunity to make use of it. Leaving the long ladder in the shed, Ali used the scaffolding ladder to get up on to the platform to prune the long, untidy stems of the banksiae that had grown since July. Further use will also be made of this safe platform to put up and replace the wires on the wall of the cottages that support the climbers.   

Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' Behind The Scaffolding

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

'A Place For Everything And Everything In Its Place'

'A Place For Everything and Everything In Its Place'

The project that began on the 24th August to improve one of the tool sheds went in to its final two days this week. The left hand wall contains the new louvre panel racking system and the old shelving unit leaving the far end and left hand wall to be filled with tools.

New long, black steel storage hooks, Rothley spring loaded clips and double tool stoarge hooks were screwed in to the walls for all the tools. The final task to label them all, there is now a place for everything and everything in its place.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Stihl HSA 86 Cordless Hedge Trimmer

The 33 box balls in the borders of the Ruskin Building quad were cut today using the new Stihl HSA 86 cordless hedge trimmer. In previous years, as well as using hand shears, the box was first cut using a Stihl petrol hedge trimmer which was heavy, noisy and in need of several refuels. This new hedge trimmer is lighter, much quieter and the battery lasted for the entire duration of the task. Its low running noise is perfect for the college environment, particularly when cutting these box balls as they are situated next a meeting room which is regularly in use. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

A New And Improved Way To Scarify The Quad Lawn

Scarifying, The New Way

The autumn lawn maintenance programme began in the quad on Monday. The Dennis mower, with the scarifying cartridge installed, was used to rip out the thatch that has built up since last September but, unlike previous years, the ride-on Iseki mower was used to cut the grass and collect the removed thatch. The Allett cylinder mower had been used in the past in conjunction with the Dennis mower, but this process of scarifying and cutting resulted in having to empty both of the mowers collecting boxes a vast amount of times. This new method, using the Dennis without its collecting box, results in the thatch falling back on to the grass which is then collected up by the ride-on mower. The high speed rotation of the two synchronised blades throw the grass through to the rear mounted low-dump collecting box removing the need to empty the heavy, awkward, thatch filled boxes in to tonne bags.

Scarifying With The Dennis

The scarifying continued on Tuesday and, once completed, Joss aerated the turf using the 'Groundsman Turf Aerator' which plunges tines into it, making holes for air, nutrients and water to reach the roots.

Aerating With The Groundsman Turf Aerator

Broadcasting The Grass Seed

The final phase of the maintenance programme was completed today, overseeding and feeding. Grass seed was broadcast across the quad to cover the newly created bare patches, a result of the scarifying. Lastly ProTurf 12.5.20, a controlled release fertiliser, was applied to the turf using the Allen Spreadmaster.

Applying Fertiliser With The Allen Spreadmaster

Rain in now needed to wash the fertiliser in and turn the grass a luxurious green again, here's hoping!

Grass Seed And Fertiliser
The Lawn

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Pinching Out The Wallflowers

Four weeks ago the 720 small wallflower plug plants were planted out in to their individual pots, see blog entry for the 20th August 'Wallflower Treasure Primrose and Sunset White'. As the month of October moves ever closer, the month in which the team will start to plant these plants out in to the college borders and containers, it is time to pinch the growing tips out to encourage bushier growth. With such a large number of plants requiring this treatment, Ali soon gave up pinching out the growing tip of each stem between her thumb and forefinger changing over to her secateurs. 

Monday, 14 September 2015

Scaffolding, A Huge Structure Dwarfing The Border Below

Herbaceous border

The herbaceous border is turning in to its autumn phase with the warm, earthy colours becoming more dominant. 

Plants Covering The Path

However, the border is in need of some adjustments due to the arrival of a large amount of scaffolding that will be erected behind it. Last week, 3rd September, in preparation for the scaffolding, an access route had to be created through the border by removing the plants that had grown over the path. 

Plants Removed And The Path Is Revealed

The Path At The Rear Is Emerging

Once behind the border Ali, Kieron and Simon continued to cut back the perennials at the rear as well as reducing the depth of the wisteria on the wall and removing it from around the windows. 

A Clear Path

Before The Scaffolding
On Friday the scaffolding finally began to be erected with a further two access paths having to be cut through the border.

Scaffolding Over The Clear Path

By Saturday afternoon the erecting of the scaffolding had been completed, a huge structure dwarfing the border below. It will remain in place for the next two to three weeks as all the window frames and gables are repaired and then painted. 

Friday, 11 September 2015

A New Louvre Panel Racking System

Sometimes jobs that the gardeners undertake start out being small and simply balloon in to something much larger than first thought. One such task was the replacement of the old, broken, wall mounted racking system with a new louvre panel system. A simple task, remove the old one from the wall and put the new one up. But once the shed that housed the rack had been emptied and the rack removed the job became much more complex, maybe board the walls and roof whilst the shed was clear!

This, originally small task, began 24th August with the clearing out of the shed then continued throughout the week, cutting 20mm and 10mm plywood for the walls and roof respectively and fixing them in place.

Skirting boards were also made from the 20mm plywood and given a bevelled edge before fixing them in place to cover the gap between the floor and the wall.

At the end of the week the new wooden interior was given a coat of wood primer before being allowed to dry over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Returning from the long weekend a second coat, the undercoat was applied over the primer and, once dry, a third and final coat applied.

Next the floor, three coats of floor paint applied during the next four days, taking this 'small' task in to three weeks in total.

Ready For The New Racking System
New Louvre Panel Racking System

All the paint is now dry and the new louvre panel racking system has been put in place, as the old adage goes "If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well". All that remains to be done is the filling of the boxes on the rack, the shelving filled and the new tool hooks put up on the wall opposite. A job well done Simon, Danny and Kieron.