Thursday, 30 July 2015

Fascinating Fasciation

The perennial Veronicastrum growing in the herbaceous border is producing some very odd shaped flower spikes. The flowers are usually long and slender but have been contorted by a process known as 'Fasciation' resulting in flattened, misshapen racemes. No two are the same which makes it quite a bizarre but interesting display.

There are a number of theories as to what causes Fasciation, from random genetic mutation and bacteria to damage caused by insects and hoeing but Ali likes to think it is just the plants wanting to be a little flamboyant!

Monday, 27 July 2015

The Parthenocissus, A Casualty Of The Heavy Rain And Strong Winds

A Piece Is Missing

The team returned from the weekend to find a large piece of Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Virginia Creeper, that adorns the facade of the 18th century buildings of the quad had fallen off.

The Fallen Parthenocissus

Catastrophic Failure 1

Upon closer inspection the reason for the detachment from the building was clear to see, a catastrophic failure. The reason for this failure, it is believed, was the result of two days of heavy rain, Friday and Sunday, that fell over Oxford as well as the strong winds. Two large stems, held on to the facade by just the plant's disc like suckers, snapped under the torrent of water and were unable to stay attached. 

Catastrophic Failure 2

The Broken Pieces Removed

Sadly the damaged stems had to be removed and have now left a large gap where they once clung. It is hoped that this vigorous climber will not take too long to fill in the gap and cover the ledge again.

The Empty Ledge

The New View

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Lacecap V Mophead

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Lanarth White' (Lacecap)
There are two very different Hydrangea putting on their floral displays at opposite ends of the herbaceous border. The lacecap flower of Hydrangea macrophylla 'Lanarth White' is located at the far right end and the mophead flower of Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' at the far left end.

Lacecap flower
'Lanarth White' has large lacecap flowers consisting of white florets surrounding green buds that open to pale blue or lilac.

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'
'Annabelle' has large globes of cream and white mophead flowers measuring between 8-10 inches across, the young flowers are pale green in colour.
Mophead flower

Lacecap V Mophead, two very different flower heads but which one do you prefer?

Monday, 20 July 2015

Gardens Day 2015

Champagne and orange juice on the Nuffield lawn.

On Saturday Simon and Ali had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Old Members of the college and their guests, leading two tours around the gardens as part of the annual Gardens Day. The day began at 11 o'clock with a warm welcome with tea and coffee followed by the tours. At the end of the tours they were greeted with champagne and orange juice on the Nuffield lawn before lunch in the Hall. A lovely day was had by all.

The table is set

Lunch menu

Friday, 17 July 2015

From The Top Of A Long Ladder

Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' (Before)

The Rosa banksiae 'Lutea', at the back of the 13th century cottages, was covered in clusters of small double, deep yellow flowers in May and early June, as predicted in blog entry 20th August 2013 'Radical Pruning Of The Rosa Banksiae Lutea'. These blooms have now all faded and the rose has put its energy in to growth which, due to its awkward position on a wall behind the herbaceous border, needs to be removed to keep it tidy and manageable before it becomes inaccessible as the plants grow below it. Working at the top of the longest ladder Danny, supported by Ali footing the ladder, spent Tuesday morning pruning the rose in to a neat and tidy shape.

Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' (After)

Herbaceous Border (Right)

Whilst the ladder was up against the wall, Ali took the oportunity to take a quick photograph showing the right side of the herbacous border from above, a sight rarely seen.

Herbaceous Border (Right) from above

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A Morning Of Cutting Box Hedging

A lovely cool, overcast morning, perfect conditions for cutting box hedges not only for the gardeners but for the box too. Box is susceptible to sun scorch when cut in very hot and sunny weather and the gardeners are susceptible to sun scorch when cutting in very hot and sunny weather! 

Simon, continuing on from where he left off yesterday, hedge cutter in hand, was joined by Kieron to work on the long box hedge. 

All morning the two of them worked together to cut the longest hedge completing it in just 3 hours. The last small box hedge to be worked on today was cut by Ali. Two days of hedge cutting, arms aching, the team has broken the back of the hedge cutting, just the huge one in the car park left to trim, to see just how big it is see blog entry 15th August 2013 'The Tallest Hedge'

The Longest Hedge

Small Box Hedge
Box Hedge Through The Archway

Box And Yew, Orchard Footpath

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Stuck On Yew

Hedge Trimmers

The recent spell of high temperatures has caused a delay in the start of the hedge cutting around the college grounds, it has been far to hot for such an arduous task. With this weeks forecast of cooler days Joss, Simon and Kieron started on the many hedges, beginning with the 20 yew columns in the Provost's rose garden.

Clipping The Tops

Yew Columns Provost's Rose Garden

Once the columns had been cut Joss and Simon continued to work together moving on to other yew hedges; the dividing hedges between the orchard and the car park, the two curved hedges in the Provost's garden and the orchard footpath hedge. By the end of a day stuck on yew they had completed their task, but that is not the end of the hedge cutting, it's the box hedging tomorrow!

Orchard/Car Park Dividing Hedge

Provost's Garden Yew Hedges

Orchard Footpath Hedge

Friday, 10 July 2015

Goslings All Grown Up

The Two Goslings (Centre, 10 Weeks Old)

At 10 weeks old the two goslings, hatched Bank Holiday 2nd-4th May, are now indistinguishable from their parents. Still under the watchful eye of the male goose, protecting his mate and offspring at all times, they have begun to flex their new flight feathers although they haven't been seen lifting off the ground yet!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Two New Wooden Planters

It's amazing what you can create with a few pallets, odd pieces of 2x2 wood and some spare lengths of rounded half round rail. Using all those bits of timber Ady built two wooden planters for the empty alcoves in The Sainsbury Building. Painting them with a Sadolin Woodstain he then lined them, when dry, with a black membrane. Once in situ he placed polystyrene pieces in the bottom to improve drainage, filled them with a soil and compost mix then planted them up to create a wonderful display in the once empty alcoves. 

Monday, 6 July 2015

Fruit Thinning

Manually Thinning The Fruit

The weather conditions over the winter, spring and summer have been perfect for the fruit trees, producing more fruit than required. The 'June Drop', the trees natural way of shedding excess fruit, has resulted in the loss of some of the fruitlets, but there are still too many. As the trees, especially the youngest, are still carrying a heavy crop, the team have begun to remove some of the smaller fruitlets to allow the remaining crop to reach a decent size and quality. This thinning will also reduce the risk of branches braking that are currently bowing under the immense weight of the heavy crop, as well as allowing the sunlight to reach the remaining fruit to improve ripening. The manual thinning process, using secateurs, will continue over the coming weeks removing the misshaped, blemished and poorly positioned fruit, thinning out the clusters to just one or two fruits.  

One To Two Fruit Remain

The Manually Thinned Fruit And The Natural 'June Drop'

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

A Visit To Christ Church On The Hottest July Day On record

The Meadow Building

With temperatures reaching record highs for July, the hottest July day since records began, the team went to visit the gardens of Christ Church for a few hours this afternoon to get some relief from working in the sweltering heat and to find some inspiration from the beautiful surroundings. One of the largest colleges in the University of Oxford, originally founded by Cardinal Wolsey in 1524, the team visited the Tom Quad, Masters Garden, Staff Garden and the gardener's nursery area. A lovely aftenoon was had by all, thank you to the Head Gardener for giving the team a guided tour around the gardens and for the kind gift of plants.  

Tom Quad, The Largest In Oxford

View Of Merton College Tower From The Masters Garden