Thursday, 28 July 2016

Wildflower Strip

Wildflower Strip

At the beginning of the year the team began a project to clear large shrubs from an area on the north side to the sports field culminating in the sowing of wildflower seed in May, see blog entry for the 5th May 2016 'Creating A Wildflower Strip'.

The seed mix 'Colour Splash 3 New Wave' germinated well and has resulted in a very colourful display of wildflowers, a great result for its first year and only three months since sowing! The flowers creating this lovely splash of colour are:
  • 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
Views From The Wildflower Strip To The Pavillion 

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A Visit To Ball Colegrave's Summer Showcase 2016

Trial Beds

Invited to the Ball Colegrave Summer Showcase 2016, Ali, Graham, Kieron and Callum, representing the gardening team, went to see the colourful spectacle. Visiting the trial grounds at West Adderbury the team were hoping to find inspiration for next year's college displays amongst the annual and perennial trial and display beds, and the basket and container displays.

 Trial Beds

The 8 acre site was planted out with over 50,000 annual and perennials in beds, baskets and containers, a colour overload at times but there were plenty of ideas for next summer. Inspiration found, they returned with the lists of plants that they had liked the most and photos of the displays. 

Trends Container Display

Verti Garden

Containers and Baskets


Bridal Container Display

Monday, 25 July 2016

Swan Rescue

"One of the swans isn't moving, I think it might be dead!", not the words Ali wanted to hear this morning. One of the swans had been spotted in amongst the reeds very still, dirty, thin and lifeless. Upon approaching the swan, gently touching it with a long stick, it did open its eyes but was obviously in trouble. Observing it for a while, it was noted that it was only swimming in continuous small circles after which becoming very unstable before, exhausted, laying its head on its back. With Ady, Danny and Graham watching on, all agreeing that there was a problem, maybe one of its feet caught up in something causing the circular movement, Ali put on the PVC bootfoot chest waders and carefully got in to the shallow lake edge to check underneath the swan. The swan made no movement or aggression towards Ali and there was nothing tangled beneath it so, in full agreement again, a call was made to the RSPCA who also agreed there was a problem and would come and collect it. An RSPCA inspector arrived at 13:30pm and by 14:00pm had managed to capture the swan, hooking it off the lake and placing it in a secure bag before transporting it to Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital for assessment.   

Calls made during the week but as of Friday 29th July no information available until next week. This blog entry will be updated as soon as information is available.

Call made to Tiggywinkles on Friday 12th August. Swan was assessed by the vet and a problem with its wing diagnosed. The swan has been treated for this problem and is recovering although not sufficiently to be returned to the college lake just yet. It will be monitored over the next two weeks when it is hoped it will have recovered and be strong enough to be returned to the college and its mate who is waiting.  

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Washing Bearded Iris

A Wheelbarrow Full of Bearded Iris

A few of the team visited the Oxford Botanic Garden yesterday afternoon and returned with a wheelbarrow full of bearded iris that had been dug up from one of the family beds during a recent reorganisation.

A Trug Full Of Bearded Iris

As the bed, from which the iris had been removed, may have contained an invasive weed all the iris needed to be washed to remove any soil deposits attached to the rhizome and roots. 

Clean Iris

Working through one bag at a time the rhizomes were put through an initial wash, a large trug of clean water, then washed again in another trug of clean water. Once all the bag's contents had been washed they were planted in to 1 and 2 litre pots of compost, 120 pots in total of 15 cultivars. They will remain in the pots until a decision has been made as to where they will be planted out in the college gardens. Amongst the 15 cultivars are 'Black Swan' deep purple almost black in colour, 'Zantha' deep yellow in colour and 'Gudrun' yellow and white in colour.
Thank you to the team at Oxford Botanic Garden for your generosity.

Bearded Iris 'Black Swan'

Friday, 15 July 2016

Eleven Half Trays and Six Shallow Pots

Seed Sowing Kit

It has only been a matter of weeks since the last of the plants were planted out in the gardens for the summer display but, before they can be enjoyed, the gardeners are already starting to think about the display for the coming winter and next spring. The tulips, plug plants and seeds were ordered last week, the seeds arrived in a matter of days and are now ready for sowing.

Filling The Trays

With the seed sowing kit ready, Ali and Callum spent a few hours in the greenhouse this morning sowing the chosen seeds; Cineraria hybrida 'Jester Mixed', Matthiola incana 'Pillow Talk' (Stocks), Dianthus barbatus 'Bouquet Rose Magic', Wallflower 'Sunset Primrose', 'Sunset Orange' and 'Sunset Bronze', Digitalis purpurea 'alba' and 'Dalmation Mixed' (Foxgloves),  Schizanthus x wisetonensis 'Dr Badger's Mix and 'Angel's Wings Mix' (Butterfly Flower), Hesperis matronalis 'Purple Violet' and 'White', Lupinus polyphyllus 'Noble Maiden' (Lupin), Primula polyanthus 'Stella Neon Violet', Calceolaria 'Dainty Mixed' (Slipper Flower), Primula candelabra 'Spectaculat Tiers Mix' and Primula acaulis 'Primlet Lemon Shades'.

Levelling The Compost

Eleven half trays and six shallow pots were filled with seed compost, the excess levelled off before being gently firmed to create a smooth, flat surface perfect for sowing seeds.

Gently Firming

A Handful of Seeds

Dealing with one packet at a time, a few seeds were tipped in to the palm and, moving the hand slowly over the filled tray, was gently tapped to make them fall off uniformly over the compost.

Sown Seed


The seeds were covered over by a thin layer of compost which was sieved over them. Each tray was then clearly labelled with the name of the seed and the today's date, then watered    

Labelled and Watered

Placed in the cooler small greenhouse, the seeds should start germinating over the coming weeks.   

Eleven Half Trays and Six Shallow Pots

Update 18th June:
The three trays of wallflowers have all germinated over the weekend.

Wallflowers Have Germinated

Monday, 11 July 2016

Duck Family Jump Off A Balcony (UPDATE)

For those of you that have read the blog entry of the 17th June 2016 'Duck Family Jump Off A Balcony' an update on the fate of the 9th duckling has been posted as a footnote on the original entry following the receipt of an email from Tom, one of the student duckling rescuers, and it's a happy ending after all!
Here's a link, click on DUCKLING 

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Columns, Curves, A Cushion and A Caterpillar


Over the last two weeks, apart from mowing, weeding and dead heading, the team have been focusing their attention on cutting the many hedges inside and outside the grounds. Having cut two of the hedges outside the college, a privet and a lonicera located at two of the college properties, the first of the hedging inside the grounds, the 20 yew columns in the Provost's garden, were cut.

With the columns complete, the next to be cut were the curved hedges of yew, also in the Provost's garden.

Having finished in the Provost's garden last week, this week the team moved the hedge cutters in to the car park area to cut four more hedges.The first, a laurel hedge, a different shape to cut, this time a complete curve to create a cushion shape.


Columns, curves, a cushion and next a caterpillar! The latter shape was first seen in the gardens last year, see blog entry 28th September 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar Privet Hedge'.

Giant Yew Hedge

The fourth, and last hedge in the car park area, was the giant yew hedge. To reach the top of the high sides the long arm hedge cutter had to be used, three of the team worked on this one yesterday. The two longest hedges are still to be cut, a task for the coming weeks.  

Monday, 4 July 2016

Shades Of The Colour Purple

Clematis viticella 'Etoile Violette'

Purple, in various shades, is the prominent colour seen around the gardens at the moment. Three plants contributing to this purple fest are clematis, nicotiana and salvia.
Using a climbing rose as support, the vigorous Clematis viticella 'Etoile Violette' is scrambling up the south facing wall of one of the 13th century cottages. Planted last year, the section of wall is now covered in a profusion of deep purple, single flowers with creamy yellow centres.  

Nicotiana 'Perfume Deep Purple'

Beneath the clematis can be found the tobacco plant Nicotiana 'Perfume Deep Purple'. Sown in March, this half hardy annual has just started to produce its star shaped deep purple flowers along a slender stem.

Salvia 'Amistad'

Not to be out done by the clematis and nicotiana, to the right of them, Salvia 'Amistad' is also producing its own show, long upright stems of purple flowers are enhanced by the near black calyces.

Shades Of The Colour Purple

Three different shapes of flowers, three different shades of purple all adding to this wonderful purple fest.