Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year

Gardens And Grounds Team (L-R) Danny, Ady, Simon, Joss, Callum, Kieron, Ali, Graham, Andy

It's team photograph time which means that Christmas is coming and the end of another very busy year for the gardens and grounds team. Today is the last day so this is the last blog entry for 2015.
The team would like to wish all the readers of the blog a 'Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year'. Thank you for your continued support as the blog nears the end of its 6th year. 

Christmas 2015

Winter Stripe Pattern On The Quad Lawn

As the sun sets over the quad, another day, another year draws to an end. The team return to work on Monday 4th January 2016 so please come back and see what they get up to over the next 12 months, new exiting projects have been planned, the new lecture theatre will be completed and will need landscaping, and the recently planted wild flower meadow will be in flower.

A Red Glow On The 18th Century Buildings

Red Sky At Night, Sunset Over The Quad

Monday, 21 December 2015

Cleaning The Greenhouse Roof

The Dirty Roof
Still taking advantage of the unseasonably warm days this winter, a task usually completed during the warm summer days, is undertaken, the cleaning of the greenhouse roof. The inside is cleaned once the greenhouse has been emptied of all the plants, see blog entry 6th August 2015 'Adding A Little Bit Of Sparkle To The Greenhouse'.

Panes Of Dirty Glass
The outside of the roof has not been cleaned for a number of years and has got very dirty due to the large amount of dirt and dust from the neighbouring building site. Starting on the south facing side Danny cleans the panels of glass with a long pole brush dipped in a mix of warm water and washing up liquid followed by a wash down of cold water. By mid afternoon the south facing side is complete and, as if on cue, the sun comes out to dry the roof glass off. The north facing side will be cleaned early next year on another warm day should this warm spell continue.  

Cleaning The Roof

South Facing Side Clean/North Facing Side Dirty
The newly cleaned glass now lets in more light, the environment in the greenhouse has just got warmer and brighter, perfect for growing plants.

The Clean Side

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Planting Five Trees, Crab Apple 'Evereste'

The Canes Mark The Spot

Yesterday Ali and Graham spent the afternoon preparing two small areas of lawn for the planting of five trees, Crab Apple 'Evereste'.

Making A Tree Circle

Digging The Holes

Having carefully measured out the exact spot for each tree to be planted five tree circles, measuring 1 metre in diameter, were dug out. The turf was removed and the soil placed on large boards to the side of each circle ready for back filling around the trees.

Waiting For The Trees

The Trees Delivered

Today the trees arrived, the five crab apple, Malus 'Evereste', along seven other trees that are to planted in the college grounds. Varying in sizes, the largest being in a 200 litre root bag, the smallest 45 litres, all having to be unloaded from the side of the delivery lorry and carried in to the college.
The seven trees are as follows: Quercus castaneifolia (Chestnut-leaved Oak Tree), 2 x Quercus robur (Common Oak, English Oak), 3 x Platanus orientalis Minaret (Oriental Plane), Taxodium distichum Feathered (Swamp Cypress). These trees have been purchased from Barcham Trees, Ely, Cambridgeshire www.barcham.co.uk

Careful Not To Drop It!

The New Trees

Measure And Re-Measure

The five crab apples trees were loaded on to the trailer and driven over to where they were to be planted. Measuring and re-measuring, and making the holes deeper, each tree, having had the root bag removed, was carefully lowered in to place. Holding the tree upright and straight the soil, with an added mix of leaf mould, was back filled in to the remainder of the hole and gently firmed in.

'Is It Straight?'

Adding A Tree Stake

To prevent wind rock and movement, the winter has been rather windy so far, each tree was tied to a wooden stake for support. Finally the trees were given a good drink of water.

These Crab Apple trees have wonderful orange fruit at this time of year and, come the spring, will be covered in a mass of cup-shaped, white flowers, something to look forward to.

The Orange Fruit Of Crab Apple 'Evereste'
Ali And The 'Evereste'

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

An Early Start To Pruning The Fruit Trees

The fruit tree pruning has started early this winter. Taking advantage of the unseasonably high temperatures this winter it was decided to start the pruning now rather than wait until next February as in previous years.

Under the guidance of the Orchard Manager from Waterperry Gardens, Chris Lanczak, the team are reminded how to prune the apple and pear trees. This year the trees produced a very large crop of fruit, putting all their energy in to this production rather than growth. Last year it was the other way round, a low fruit yield and more growth resulting in more to prune. Growth is removed from the centre to keep it open and to allow air to circulate through the crown, overcrowded branches are removed, dead and diseased branches removed and strong growing laterals shortened.

"Shorten Back This One"

It is hoped that the pruning will be finished by February rather than only just beginning.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Poncirus trifoliata (Japanese Bitter Orange)

Against the sunny south facing walls of the Ruskin (Nash) Building, a few dozen small orange fruit lay on the ground but there are no fruit trees, as such, in the borders. The deciduous shrub that produces these inedible bitter fruit, that resemble oranges, is the Japanese Bitter Orange, Poncirus trifoliata. (Apparently they are good for making marmalade and preserves though)

During late spring to early summer the Poncirus produces a profusion of small white flowers with a sweet citrus fragrance that, when fertilised, develop in to these citrus like fruit. 

However, the shrub is covered in long, sharp spiky thorns that will protect its fruit from being harvested even by the most hardened of fruit pickers. (Make sure your body is covered in thick clothing, your hands by thick gloves, your eyes by protective glasses and a hat that protects your head, that should be sufficient to pick the fruit for those that want to make marmelade!) 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Mulching With Wood Chip

The Broadwalk (Before)

Over the last few years, as woody material such as tree branches and shrub prunings have been put through the chipper, the pile of wood chip, situated at the bottom of the sports field, has been increasing. Today, however, it has been reduced as it was used as a mulch on the Broadwalk border. 


The large trailer was filled with wood chip and transported to the border, then shovelled in to wheelbarrows and tipped out on to the soil. To create a layer of about 2 inches deep, the piles were levelled out across the soil, paying particular care when spreading it amongst the plants and emerging bulbs.This natural barrier will help suppress weeds and help retain water. 

A Section Of The Border (Before)

Tipping Out The Wood Chip

A Section Of The Border (After)

Levelling Out The Piles Of Wood Chip

The Broadwalk (After)

Monday, 7 December 2015

British Wild Flowers

Primula veris (Cowslip) In The Orchard

The planting of British wild flowers in the college gardens continued today, see last month's blog entry 13th November 'Planting Wildflower Plug Plants' for the earlier planting details.

Long Handled Plug Planter

Today's session began in the orchard with the planting of a tray of 104 Primula veris (Cowslip) using the same method, cutting holes in the grass with a stainless steel, long handled plug planter.

Pushing the cutting edge in to the grass and pulling it out to make a hole, Ali puts the Cowslip plug in to the hole gently firming it in place

Cowslip Plug Plant

Once Ali had finished planting in the orchard she turned her attention to the wild flower area between the Nuffield Lawn and The Goldfish Bowl (Casson Building).

Existing Wild Flower Area

Adding to the existing wildflowers, a tray of 104 wild flowers were planted consisting of the following plants: Clinopodium vulgare (Basil), Trollius europaeus (Globeflower), Galium verum (Lady's Bedstraw), Origanum vulgare (Marjoram), Salvia verbenaca (Wild Clary), Hypochaeris radicata (Common Catsear), Centaurea scabiosa (Greater Knapweed), Lotus corniculatus (Birds Foot Trefoil), Rumex acetosa (Sorrel), Leucanthemum vulgare (Oxeye Daisy), Achillea millefolium (Yarrow), Filipendula vulgaris (Dropwort), Knautia arvensis (Field Scabious). A few dozen Cowslip were also planted in this area.
(All the wild flowers have been purchased from 'British Wild Flower Plants' Burlingham Gardens, North Burlingham, Norfolk. www.wildflowers.co.uk )

A Mixed Tray Of Wild Flowers

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Pruning 'Campsis radicans' (Trumpet Vine)

The pruning of the climbing plants, that adorn some of the walls and railings in the gardens, began this week with the large, old Campsis radicans (Trumpet Vine) located on the terrace of the main quadrangle. Climbing up the imposing facade of the 18th century building, the long woody stems, that bore the rather exotic looking clusters of trumpet shaped red flowers in the summer, need to be pruned.

This Year's Growth
Pruned Back To Two To Four Buds

These wooden stems, the growth of this year, are pruned back hard to two to four buds at the base of that growth. Weak, damaged and dead wood is also removed. Flowers are produced on the tips of next year's growth which is produced in response to this pruning. 

Long Reach Pruner

Due to the height of the Campsis the stems that are high up, and can not be reached safely from the large tripod ladder, are pruned using the long reach pruner rather than secateurs.

This Campsis has now been pruned but this is just the beginning. There are many more climbing plants in the gardens and gardeners up ladders, with long reach pruners and secateurs in their hands, will be a regular sight in the college over the coming months.

The Pruned Campsis radicans