Friday, 24 June 2016

Rose 'Rhapsody In Blue'

'Rhapsody In Blue'

When working out in the garden the gardeners can often be questioned about the plants that are out in flower. One such plant causing quite a stir at the moment in the floribunda rose 'Rhapsody In Blue'. This rose has been flowering since the beginning of June and will continue to due so, with regular dead heading, throughout the summer months.   

On each stem are large clusters of sweet scented, semi-double flowers that seem to change colour as they mature, purple, mauve and the blue(ish) for which it got its name. Rose of the Year in 2003 (Floribunda) and given an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 2012, this rose is a favourite amongst the gardeners and, it would seem, the visitors to the gardens too. Highly recommended, this rose would be a worthy addition to any garden. 

Monday, 20 June 2016

The Three Iron Crates Make An Unexpected Return

Three Iron Crates, Two Tied Staging

The three iron crates, used as part of the display in the corner border during last summer, have made an unexpected return as part of one of the college garden displays this year, see blog entry 4th June 2015 'Three Rusty Iron Crates'. Last seen being removed from that display in October, see blog entry 15th October 2015 'It Seems Like Only Yesterday', they have now been used as staging for a two tiered pot display outside the entrance to the Ruskin (Nash) Building. The idea for using the crates was Danny's and what a great idea it turned out to be!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Duck Family Jump Off A Balcony

Lavendar Nesting Site

An unusual event occurred today on the balcony of the student room A10 of the Sainsbury Building, not the fact that a clutch of duck eggs hatched but the unusual location! Charlotte had noticed a female mallard visiting and sitting in the lavendar for the last month, the reason was discovered this morning when she was awoken by lots of quacking, 9 ducklings appeared with the mallard on the balcony.

Mallard And Her 9 Ducklings

Wary at first the ducklings remained close to their mothers side until a large tray was brought up to the balcony and filled with water for them to drink, however their instinct was not to drink it but to go straight to the water and swim in it.

Time For A Swim

Balcony Up High

As the day progressed this instinct to be on water become stronger resulting in the mother flying down from the balcony and calling to her brood to follow. Only 8-12 hours old, and unable to fly like their mother, they had to jump!



Being encouraged by their mother, quacking to them from the ground below, the first duckling looked over the edge of the balcony and jumped, landing with a bump on the floor. Getting up unscathed, the landing had been softened by its down feathers, it waddled over to its mother's side. However, the duckling may not have felt anything, but it was all too much to bear for students Tom and Julia who decided to help the 8 remaining ducklings, catching each one of them in a box as they jumped and fell from the extrodinary height for such a small, young bird.

The Group Waits For Their Mother

Gathering them up, the mother duck lead her brood along to the water's edge and jumped in. More encouragement followed, quacking at the youngsters to jump one last time.

This Way

One Last Jump

Looking over the edge they trusted their mother once again and jumped in to the water. Gathering them up she lead them away from the helping humans and out on to the water. (A sad note, the mother unfortunately miscounted her brood and only took 8 ducklings to the lake, leaving 1 behind up on the balcony which would not come out from beneath the lavander planter, its fate is unknown).

On The Lake At Last

Footnote   'It's A Happy Ending After All'

An Email From Tom, One Of The Student Duck Rescuers:

After the mother had taken the other 8 down to the lake, Julia and I went to try and coax out the 9th, and it eventually managed to find a way out from behind the lavender and jumped, so we managed to scoop him up into a box and carry him down to the lake. We found the rest of the brood with the mother on the lake’s edge, and thankfully the moment we tipped him out of the box and he went onto the lake, the mother came over to collect him and swam off with all 9 ducklings.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Miner's Lettuce, A Superfood

Carpet Of Green

A large area beneath the Yew, Beech and Hornbeam is covered with a carpet of green, but what is it? Identified for the gardeners by a very knowledgeable visitor to the gardens the plant in question is Claytonia perfoliata, Miner's Lettuce (eaten by the miner's in the California Gold Rush to prevent scurvy). Over the last few years the 'lettuce' has spread prolifically beneath the trees to create this carpet. The very moist leaves are round with the stem piercing through the middle and, on maturity, has a tiny white flower, the Provost's chickens and the Canada Geese love it (It's edible for humans too, a superfood apparantly, but hasn't been tried by the team yet!).    

Claytonia perfoliata

Wildfowl Love Miner's Lettuce

This year's Canada goose family, six goslings hatched on the 2nd June but only three remain, are often found feeding on this huge patch of 'superfood', it's full of vitamin C, beta carotene and protein, so they are growing fast. (Update, 21st June, the smallest of the goslings was deserted by its parents today and, although rescued by the gardeners, died before they could get it to the local wildlofe hospital).

Canada Geese And Their Three Goslings

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Cooper's Burmese

Rosa 'Cooper's Burmese'

The climbing rose 'Cooper's Burmese' is putting on a beautiful display at the base of the Ash tree beside the lake. Climbing up the ropes put up by the gardeners, see blog entry for the 8th May 2014 'Roses Grown On Rope', the rose has now covered the bottom half of the tree in just two years. Large, pure white, single flowers, with a slight fragrance, are on mass covering the trunk of the old tree, the gardeners will have to put up more rope to assist the rose as it attempts to reach new heights!

Large, Pure White, Single Flowers

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Hesperis (Sweet Rocket) and Lupins

Hesperis matronalis 'Purple-Violet'

The Hesperis and Lupin grown from seed last July are now in flower in two of the college borders. Hesperis matronalis 'Purple-Violet' (Sweet Rocket) has been in flower since the beginning of May, numerous clusters of sweet scented purple flowers fill the corner behind the Catalpa tree. However in the recent heavy rain of June the plants at the front of the border have been flattened, the final height being taller than the 3ft that was expected, perhaps they should have been planted further back in the border to prevent this from happening.
The Lupinus polyphyllus 'Noble Maiden' (Lupins) are creating many towers of erect creamy-white spikes emerging through the neighbouring plants in the Provost's Lodging borders.
Both these plants are new to the gardens and have been a success so will, no doubt, be grown again.
To read about these plants whilst in the greenhouse as plugs refer to blog entry for the 26th August 2015 'Lupins, Sweet Rocket, Sweet William and Wallflowers'.    

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The Hidden Bird Life Of Worcester College

1st June, Reed Warbler 'Churring' In The Reeds In College

Reed Warbler In The Reeds At Worcester College

Walking in through the entrance of Worcester College and standing in the cloisters you can't help but be in awe of the surroundings: the row of 13th century cottages; the imposing neo-classical 18th century buildings; and the well manicured lawn with its curved pattern. Through the two archways is the garden, lawns, mature trees, stunning borders and even a lake but what is not seen is the hidden bird life that occupies the college too.
The large birds, swans, geese, ducks are clearly visible but not the small. In the quad, the three pairs of Goldfinch that are nesting in the wisteria and the Virgina creeper, and the pair of Great Tit nesting in the small crack above the entrance to staircase 7.
Beside the bridge, in the Ash tree, a family of Great Spotted Woodpecker occupy a hole, successfully feeding their young who have fledged this morning and now live within the college grounds. (Video below taken a few hours before fledging of the male feeding the very hungry juvenile in the ash tree).
In the reeds beside the Sainsbury Building, a pair of Reed Warbler, summer visitors to the UK, have returned to the college today, flitting amongst the reeds singing their 'churring' song. These small brown birds were first heard last year in the reeds, see blog entry for 4th June 2015  'First Recorded Visit Of A Reed Warbler To The College', a few days earlier this year they have been seen and heard and, hopefully, they will stay and breed.

Fledged Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker

Goldfinch With Nesting Material In The Wisteria

How Many Gardeners Does It Take To.......?

Removing From The Greenhouse

How many gardeners does it take to...........remove a large, heavy banana plant from the greenhouse, transport it to the herbaceous border and plant it? The planting out of the large architectural plants in the herbaceous border begins with the banana plants and one of the largest was planted today. As the series of photographs show, in answer to the question, it takes 7 gardeners (6 to do the carrying and planting plus 1 to take the photos!) 

It's Heavy

In To The Trailer

Lifting It Out Of The Trailer

Lifting It Over The Newly Planted Annials In The Border

It Won't Come Out Of The Pot

It's Stuck In The Pot!



It's Out

It's Planted!