Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Wisteria Hysteria

Top Terrace

The hysteria about the college Wisteria began on a Monday morning, the 16th May, when a roving reporter called in to the college following a recommendation about the 'Wisteria in Worcester College being some of the best in Oxford'. Live on BBC Radio Oxford, Ali was interviewed briefly about the wisteria, how to prune them to achieve such a wonderful display'. Following this 2 minute broadcast visitors came to see this display and all agreed it was a magnificent display this year. Flowering throughout the month of May the many cascading flowers really do create a hysteria about the wisteria amongst all who see them.
To read about the wisteria being pruning refer to blog entry 14th January 2016 'Wisteria And Goldfinch', photographs of the 'Top Terrace' (see above photo) wisteria being pruned.



Beside The Besse Building

Sports Field

Provost's Garden

Bottom Archway

Friday, 27 May 2016

New To The Corner Decorative, Pom Pom, Ball and Semi-Cactus Dahlia

Winter-Spring 2015/16

With two of the major summer displays already planted up over the last two days, the border at the far end of the quad and the Besse Courtyard containers, it is the 'border in the corner' that the team focus their attention on today.

Clearing The Border

Yesterday the wallflowers and tulips were removed, and the soil prepared for planting, raked level, debris cleared and a granular plant food added. The Cornus alba were also removed, dug out as they had got too big for the border, and planted elsewhere in the college grounds.

The Prepared Border With Unclipped Box Balls

Before the border could be planted it was decided that the box balls should be clipped but, as the border had already been prepared, the clippings had to be collected without making a mess. Wrapping a large sheet around the neck of the box ball the clippings fell on to the sheet which was then carefully gathered up without dropping any of them. 

Collecting The Clippings Making No Mess

Clipped Box Balls

Planting Out

Once the box clipping had been completed the plants were brought over from the greenhouse, placed out in to their positions, planted and watered in.

This year's plants are as follows: Dahlia 'Sam Hopkins', 'Jescot Julie', 'Ambition', 'New Baby', 'Thomas A Edison', 'Downham Royal', 'Con Amore' and 'Jowey Mirella' (Venetian Dahlia Collection by Sarah Raven); Tagetes tenuifolia 'Paprika', Moluccella laevis (Bells of Ireland), Nigella damascena 'Double White' (Love-In-The-Mist), Anethum graveolens (Dill), Antirrhinum majus 'Night & Day', Bupleurum rotundifolium 'Griffiti', Euphorbia oblongata, Zinnia elegans 'Super Yoga Orange', Zinnia elegans 'Envy Double', Nicotiana langsdorffii, Amaranthus tricolor 'Red Army', Rudbeckia hirta 'Cherokee Sunset', Rudbeckia hirta 'Moreno' and Rudbeckia hirta 'Cappucino'.

Additional planting 4th July 2016

As the Dill has gone over very quickly since planting the gaps have now been filled with Coleus 'Rainbow Mixed'.

Coleus 'Rainbow Mixed'

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Pelargonium Aplenty

Winter Display

As the border at the far end of the quad was having the wallflowers and tulips removed yesterday the winter display in the Besse Courtyard was also being removed. The evergreens, Bay, Skimmia, Vibernum, Phormium, Mahonia and Ivy were dug up and taken to the heeling in bed in the nursery area.

Loaded For Transportation

Heeling In Bed

The heeling in bed is where the bare rooted plants are stored until they are needed again in the displays or in the gardens. Trenches are dug wide and deep enough to hold the plants, the plants are then placed in to the trenches next to each other, the soil put back in to the trench around the plants and firmed in using your heel, hence 'heeling in'.

Empty Containers

A Straight Line To A Group
For this summer's display the containers have been moved back in to a group of seven rather than the line seen over the winter months.

Today, with the containers in their new positions, the display is created. This year the display is 'Pelargonium Aplenty', nine in total, Pelargonium denticulatum 'Filicifolia', Pelargonium crispum 'Angel Eyes Randy', Pelargonium papilionaceus, Pelargonium tomentosum 'Chocolate Spot', Pelargonium 'Lady Plymouth', 'Orange Fizz', 'Attar of Roses', 'Lord Bute' and 'Precision Bright Lilac'. Joining these plants are Salvia curviflora, Salvia 'Waverly' and the black succulent Aeonium arboreum 'Schwarzkopf'.

Creating The Display

Pelargonium Aplenty

Not seen for the last few years, the other two oak containers have been moved back in to the courtyard, the nine containers all back together again. The planting in these two are also mainly Pelargonium, Pelargonium denticulatum 'Filicifolia', Pelargonium tomentosum 'Chocolate Spot',
Pelargonium tomentosum, Pelargonium odorata 'Cola', Pelargonium 'Lord Bute', 'Mabel Grey' and 'Precision Bright Lilac'. In addition to these plants are Tibouchina urvilleana, Argyranthemum 'Cherry Harmony', Salvia curviflora and Lavatera maritima.    

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

All Change At The Far End Of The Quad

It's that time of year again when the gardeners turn their attention to the summer bedding displays but before the planting out can begin the winter displays need to be removed. The first border to be changed is the one located at the far end of the quad, 'The Bottom Border' as it is known by the team.

Yesterday the wallflowers were dug out first and, a change from previous years, the tulips were dug out too. Since the tulips were planted in the border two years ago they have always been left in but the dying foliage becomes are hiding place for slugs and snails who just love to eat freshly planted annuals! Once the wallflowers and tulips have been removed, the border was weeded, fed with growmore granules and forked through ready for today's planting.

Bringing most of the gardeners to their knees to plant the display, this year's seeds sown annuals and plants from cuttings are as follows:
Seed sown annuals: Nicotiana mutabilis, Nicotiana x hybrida 'Whisper Mixed', Gypsophila elegans 'Kermesina', Ammi visnaga 'White', Scabiosa atropurpurea 'Burgundy Beau', Scabiosa atropurpurea 'Snow Maiden', Antirrhinum majus 'Lipstick Silver', Antirrhinum majus 'Royal Bride', Cosmos bipinnatus 'Dazzler', Cosmos bipinnatus 'Versailles Tetra', Cosmos bipinnatus 'Double Click Cranberries', Cosmos bipinnatus 'Candy Stripe', Daucus carota 'Dara', Cleome spinosa 'Violet Queen' and Lavatera trimestris 'Dwarf Pink Blush'.
Cuttings: Plectranthus argentatus 'Silver Shield', Salvia 'Penny's Smile', Diascia personata, Argyranthemum 'Whirligig Purple', Pelargonium 'Angel Eyes Randy, Pelargonium 'Clorinda', Plectranthus coleoides 'Marginatus', Tibouchina urvilleana and Anisodontea capensis.

The structure is provided by the permenant planting, the perennials and shrubs, Hemerocallis 'Catherine Woodbery', Artemisia 'Powis Castle'Zantedeschia aethiopica 'Crowborough', Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis', Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple', Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky', Alchemilla mollis, Kirengeshoma palmata, Staphylea colchica (Bladdernut) and Indigofera gerardiana.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Using 'Pythagoras Theorem' To Create The New Lawn Pattern

The new design was cut in to the quad lawn for the first time this morning, triple width curves. Straight lines, circle, diagonal lines and curves, single, double and triple width have all been seen on the lawn before but not triple width curves.
To create this pattern involves the use of 'Pythagoras Theorem' and the walking of large paces from the first cane in the corner, point C, to points A and B to make right angled triangle, and an extra pace from point B to create the curve (arc), see diagram below for a visual explanation! The shape of the curve is carefully scored in to the lawn as a guidline for the first stripe and for each subsequent stripe to be worked off. Next week 'Pythagoras Theorem' will be used again to create this mowing pattern from another corner of the lawn and as the lawn in mowed two to three times a week during the summer months the curves will become more and more defined. For last year's lawn pattern see blog entry for 3rd June 2015 'Triple Width DiagonalLawn Pattern'.

circle sector

Monday, 16 May 2016

The Bananas, The Harbinger Of Summer

Too many the harbinger of summer is the swifts, when the swifts arrive from Africa and fill the skies with their screeching call, summer is on the way. However, to the gardeners, the 'harbinger of summer' is the unwrapping of the bananas! Having been under wraps since mid November the new leaves have been growing beneath the horticultural fleece trying to break free from it creating twisted and distorted shapes.


Today the new leaves were finally released from their confines as the unwrapping took place. Last year's old brown leaves were removed as well as some of the new leaves that had broken under the fleece. Cleared from all the old growth the bananas looked fresh and ready to herald the beginning of summer. (To see the story of how the banana plants are wrapped see blog entry for 19th November 2015 'Wrapping Banana Plants During The Tail End Of Storm Barney'.)

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Great Spotted Woodpeckers In The Ash Tree

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Male, Red Patch On The Nape)

By the bridge the Ash tree has some new holes in it made by a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Since the beginning of the year the sound of woodpeckers drumming on a number of trees have been heard around the gardens but it is the hollow section at the top of the Ash tree that they have settled in to rear their brood. Both birds were involved in chiseling out the nest chamber and have both been incubating their eggs, a number of shift changes have been seen in recent days, one bird leaving through the hole as the other one flies in to take its place. The incubation time is 14-16 days on a clutch of between 4-6 eggs and, one hatched, the young will fledge after 18 days. So, if you are walking by the tree over the coming few week, listen out to the sound of hungry young woodpeckers demanding to be fed! These two photographs, taken by Ali, show the pair on the Ash Tree by the entrance hole to the nest cavity.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Female)

Monday, 9 May 2016

Tulip 'Cum Laude'

Ten Stone Pots

Seven months ago, 9th October to be exact, the ten pots that adorn the steps in the Provost's garden were planted up for their winter/spring display.

Ten Tulips In Each Pot

The summer display was removed and replaced with tulips and pansies. The 100 tulips were chosen especially for these pots due to their name, Tulip 'Cum Laude', Cum Laude meaning 'with distinction, referring to university degrees and diplomas'. Ten tulip bulbs were placed in to each of the ten pots, covered in compost and pansies planted on the top.  

The 100 late flowering tulips have now been in flower for a week, the flower, a beautiful lavender blue on upright stems. The colour, unbeknownst to the team as the tulip was chosen for the name, is the perfect match to the newly emerging flowers of the wisteria that are blooming on the walls and railings all around them. 

Tulip 'Cum Laude'

Late Flowering Lavender Flowers of 'Cum Laude'

Tulip 'Cum Laude' and Wisteria

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Creating A Wildflower Strip

Seed Sowing Kit

Back in January the team began a project to clear an area of overgrown shrubs that bordered the north side of the sports field which was completed in three weeks, for the story so far see the following blog entries:
26th January 2016 'Removing The Large Laurel'
28th January 2016 'The Laurel Clearance Continues'
12th February 2016 'Laurel And Shrub Clearance Update'

Since February the old shrub and tree stumps have been ground out, the area levelled, nuisance weeds sprayed off and annual weeds hoed off. Yesterday four tonnes of top soil were spread over the cleared area and levelled in preparation for today's seed sowing. The original plan was to return the area to grass but there has been a change, instead of grass the new plan is for a wildflower strip. To create the strip the area has been measured, 100 metres by 4 metres, and a seed mix ordered. The chosen mix, from Sherriff Amenity, is called 'Colour Splash 3 New Wave, a tall growing wildflower mixture which features orange tones and withstands heat and drought very well'.

Wildflower Seed 'Colour Splash 3 New Wave'

Two 400gram tins of seed were ordered, each tin sufficient to cover 200m sq (the total area is 400m sq). To make it easier to sow the seed, and for a more even distribution, the area was split in to four, smaller, equal sections, 25m x 4 (100m sq) and each seed tin split in to two, 200grams (100m sq). 

Wildflower Seed

The wildflower seed mix is
  • Cornflower - Centaurea Cyanus
  • Sensation Cosmos Bipinnatus - Cosmos Bipinnatus
  • Cosmos Sulphureus - Cosmos Sulphureus
  • Garden Chrysanthemum - Chrysanthemum
  • Coreopsis Tinctoria - Coreopsis Tinctoria
  • Tithonia - Tithonia speciosa
  • California Zinnia - Zinnia elegans

Wildflower Seed And Silver Sand

In a bucket, an inert carrier, Silver Sand, was mixed with the seed (5kg of sand per 200grams of seed) to help distribute it more evenly.

Seed And Sand Mix

By hand, the mixture was broadcast over each section and, when finished, gently raked in to the soil. With plenty of rain due in the next few days watering in wasn't deemed necessary.

Wildflower Strip Area

Please Keep Off

Germination is expected in the next 8-10 days, in the mean time signs have been put up along the newly sown area to protect the young seedlings as they emerge.

Colour Splash 3 New Wave