Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Sorbus 'Pearly King'

This morning Kieron planted three small trees in the college gardens, one in the Provost's garden, one the Nuffield lawn and one in the Goldfish Bowl borders. The three trees are all Sorbus 'Pearly King'

Chosen for the large clusters of rich pink berries, it is hoped that the berries will attract and provide food for wildlife during the winter months. Eventual height will be approximately 17 ft (5m), a lot of growing still to be done.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Applying A Dark, Crumbly Leaf Mould Mulch

Mixing The Leaves, Grass and Herbaceous Material

The leaf mould that is applied as a mulch on the borders during the autumn has been slowly maturing over the last 12 months. Consisting of leaves, grass cuttings and herbaceous material from last year, 2014, that have been mixed and turned every month and allowed to rot down, it has now formed a dark, crumbly mix perfect to top dress the herbaceous border. (This year's leaves, grass and herbaceous material will form the leaf mould used in the autumn of 2016).

Leaf Mould


Using the New Holland tractor with the grab attachment, Ady loads the leaf mould in to the trailer for transporting to the border.


The leaf mould is unloaded in to wheel barrows and tipped on to the border and levelled over the surface with a garden fork.


Herbaceous Border (L)

After a day of loading, unloading, tipping and spreading the herbaceous border has been dressed.

Herbaceous Border (R)

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Wrapping Banana Plants During The Tail End Of Storm Barney

The tail end of Storm Barney did its best to hinder the team as they wrapped up the banana plants in preparation for the forecast freezing temperatures due this weekend.

The first layer of protection is from their large leaves as they are folded down and tied around the trunk.

Horticultural fleece is then wrapped around the leaf covered trunk and tied in place with string. However, with the tail end of Storm Barney still blowing strong gusts across the gardens, the fleece is hard to control and manoeuvre around the banana plants. 

Eventually, after a number of unsuccessful attempts by Storm Barney to blow the fleece out of the gardener's hands, all the banana plants are wrapped and ready for the cold weather to arrive. Tomorrow a thick mulch will be added around the base of the plants to protect their roots. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Blooms Are Fading And The Foliage Is Dying Back

Herbaceous Border (L) Before

On the herbaceous border the blooms are fading and the foliage is dying back signalling that it is time to remove all the annuals and cut the perennials back. 

Herbaceous Border (R) Before

Birch Basket Support

Before the border can be cut back all the wooden supports that were made seven months ago, see blog entry 30th April 'Birch Plant Supports', need to be removed. The birch baskets and hazel stakes  are taken to the chipper pile for chipping and the bamboo canes to the wood store for future use. 

Off To The Chipper And Wood Store

Cutting Down and Raking

Yesterday all the supports were removed so the cut down and tidy up could begin first thing this morning. Working together, all the team were involved cutting down the perennials with hedge cutters, raking off the debris and blowing off the leaves from the border, loading the debris and leaves in to the trailer and transporting it all to the compost heap. 

Cutting Down

Blowing Off The Leaves

Debris and Leaves

Compost Heap

Herbaceous Border (L) After
Tomorrow some of perennial plants will lifted, split and re-planted or moved to other areas of the border as well as a further 200 tulip bulbs being planted.(A mix of 50 'Black Hero', 50 Black Parrot and 100 Shirley).  Next week the border will be mulched with leaf mould.

Herbaceous Border (R) After

Friday, 13 November 2015

Planting Wildflower Plugs Plants

Wildflower Plug Plants
The 12 trays of wildflower plug plants arrived from the growers (www.wildflowers.co.uk) two weeks ago and have been in the cold frames waiting to be planted. The 1200 British native plants that were planted today consist of:
Primula veris (Cowslip), Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell), Leuncanthemum vulgare (Oxeye Daisy), Lychnis flos-cuculi (Ragged Robin), Geranium pratense (Meadow Cranesbill), Knautia arvensis (Field Scabious), Ranunculus acris (Meadow Buttercup), Succisa pratensis (Devil's Bit Scabious). 

Using a stainless steel, long handled plug planter, Simon pushes the cutting edge in to the grass then pulls it back out to make a hole, the plug of grass and soil remains inside the planter. 

As he pushes the planter back in to the grass the first plug is pushed out and replaced with the new plug. He repeats this until he has made 1200 holes in the grass and a wheelbarrow full of plugs.

The plug plant is put in to the hole and the soil gently firmed around the neck of the plant to secure it in place.

The team spent the morning working in the Provost's garden planting the plugs, at times, in very wet conditions. Now they have to wait until the summer to see the results.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Five Oak Containers All In A Row

Border At The Bottom Of The Quad (October)

With October and November being unseasonably warm this year the summer bedding displays have been left in the borders and containers longer than in previous years. Last week the display in the border at the bottom of the quad was ripped out and prepared for the planting of the Wallflowers. 

Planted Up With Wallflower 'Treasure Primrose'

Yesterday 230 Wallflower 'Treasure Primrose' were planted. This is the first time the 'Treasure' variety of Wallflower has been used in the college gardens, chosen for its long flowering period autumn, winter and spring.

Summer Display

Today the team turned their attention to changing the display in the containers of the Besse Building courtyard (The Provost's Yard).

Clearing Out Display

All the plants were carefully dug out, the salvia and some of the Anisodontea were taken to the greenhouse and re-potted in to individual pots, the rest of the plants taken to the compost heap.

On The Move

Before the containers were planted up with the winter display they were moved to their new positions, from the side of the courtyard in to the centre in a line rather than a central grouping, five oak containers all in a row.

Re-Planting For Winter

The new planting for this winter is as follows:
Small containers x 2, Phormium 'Bronze Baby', Skimmia japonica 'Foremanii' (syn. Veitchii) (Female), Pansy Cool Wave 'Berries N Cream Mixed'.
Medium containers x 2, Laurus nobilis (Bay), Phormium cookianum 'Tricolor', Pansy Cool Wave 'Berries N Cream Mixed'.
Large container x 1, Laurus nobilis (Bay), Viburnum tinus, Hedera algeriensis 'Gloire De Marengo' (Ivy).

Winter Dispay

Friday, 6 November 2015

A Week Of Heavy Leaf Fall

This week the team have been focused on clearing up the daily leaf fall, as the saying goes 'It's like painting the forth bridge', as soon as they have finished doing it they have to start all over again!

Before the clearance on the Nuffield Lawn can begin, using a leaf blower, the leaves are blown away from the base of the tree trunks, from any large roots that protrude through the grass and from the edge of the tree circles. The leaves are are also blown from the path on to the lawn.  

With all the blowing finished the ride-on Iseki mower is used to clear the lawn. The high speed spinning of the blades within the cutting deck creates a powerful suction, hoovering and cutting up the leaves as it passes over them. 

Over on The Broadwalk it is a more manual process, leaf rakes and leaf grabbers