Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Pruning Climbing Hydrangea

Climbing Hydrangea

Sometimes shrubs need more than a light prune in order to keep them under control. One such shrub, a climbing Hydrangea, Hydrangea petiolaris, is located on the back wall of the Gloucester House accommodation block and is about to start climbing across the roof.

Thick Growth

The hard prune may well reduce the number of flowers produced over the next few years but it can not be allowed to spread over the roof so a hard prune, and a sacrifice in flowers, has to be done. To reach the offending height the lower, thick growth had to be cut first, reducing the longer stems back by 1-2 feet to a healthy pair of leaf nodes. Once the thickest growth has been thinned the ladder could be put in to place for safe access to the top half for its removal.

Aerial Roots

Having chosen the desired height to which it had to be cut down to, the offending thick stems were cut and carefully pulled off the wall, not easy when attached by thousands of strong aerial roots that grow along the stems and attach themselves to the wall with some great force.


This hydrangea will only need a light prune after flowering over the next few years and the height will be controlled in future.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Peter's Propagating Pelargonium

Peter's Propagating Perlargonium

It's Peter's second day of his two year apprenticeship to achieve an NVQ Level 2 and Level 3 Diploma in Work-based Horticulture and he is already learning how to propagate pelargonium. Working with Ali they go out in to the gardens to select the required plants from which the cuttings need to be taken. The cutting material is removed from the parent plant by cutting above a leaf joint, placed in a bag and, once a sufficient number have been taken, they return to the greenhouse to strike the cuttings.

Striking Pelargonium

Using a sharp, sterile knife, and with a plaster on their right thumbs to protect it from the sharp knife, the stem is cut beneath a leaf joint/node (nodal cut) leaving the cutting about 2-4 inches long. The bottom leaves, just above the nodal cut, are cut off by drawing the knife down the stem towards the base and the protected thumb! The soft tip/growing point is then removed from the top of the cutting. Several cuttings are prepared, each base being dipped in hormone rooting powder and, with the aid of a dipper, are placed in to a small, shallow pot of multipurpose compost, watered in and placed in the mist unit. These cuttings will, once rooted, be repotted in to individual pots and as young plants will be planted out in to the gardens and be part of next year's summer floral display.

A Mist Unit Full Of Cuttings

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Trees And Troughs For The Resurgence 50th Anniversary Event

Tree Planters Awaiting Delivery

Between the 22nd and 25th September Worcester College is the venue for 'One Earth, One Humanity, One Future', a four day event held by The Resurgence Trust to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Resurgence magazine (Resurgence & Ecologist since 2012), the UK's longest standing green magazine. In preparation for the start of this event the garden team have been busy preparing the gardens and creating plant displays to be placed in the giant marquee and a lecture room.

Careful Manouvering

For the marquee two large containers were planted up and carefully manouvered in to place on the stage.
Container 1: Betula albosinensis 'Kansu' (Chinese Red Barked Birch) under planted with Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (hardy blue-flowered leadwort)
Container 2: 3 x Sorbus 'Joseph Rock' (Mountain Ash) under planted with Anemone japonica 'Serenade'

The Stage Is Set For 'One Earth, One Humanity, One Future'

The Tree Containers In Place On Stage

Nash Building Lecture Room

On the other side of the college gardens, in the lecture room of the Nash Building, two heavy stone troughs were planted up, wheeled over on a pallet truck and then carefully lifted in to place beneath the giant television screens.
Trough 1 and 2: Viburnum tinus 'Spirit', Hosta 'Royal Standard', Dryopteris affinis (Golden Male Fern), Anemone hybrida 'Andrea Atkinson' (Japanese Anemone) and Euonymus fortunei 'Silver Queen'.
The launch event begins tonight in the marquee with an opening speech from James Sainsbury, Chair of The Resurgence Trust and a video message from HRH The Prince of Wales and continues over the next three days .

Heavy Stone Trough Beneath The TV Stand

Thursday, 15 September 2016

A Bumper Delivery Of Bulbs

Boxes of bulbs

Ordered on the 8th July the bumper delivery of spring bulbs arrived today from Peter Nyssen Ltd, 3450 in total, all to be planted from October to December. The bulbs this year are:
  • Tulips, 14 varieties, 'Angelique', 'Ballerina', 'Belicia', 'Black Hero', 'Blue Diamond', 'Cairo', China Pink', 'Gabriella', 'Havran', 'Maureen', 'National Velvet', 'Shirley', 'West Point', 'White Marvel'
  • Narcissus, 3 varieties, 'Peeping Jenny', 'Thalia', 'Ice Follies'
  • Allium, 2 varieties, 'Christophii', 'Purple Sensation'
  • Camassia, 2 varieties, 'Cusickii', 'Leichtlinii Caerulea'
  • Fritillaria, 2 varieties, 'Persica', 'Meleagris'
  • Anemone, 1 variety, 'Blanda White Splendour'
Once the boxes had been emptied and the contents checked the bulbs were put in to a dry, cool place until planting begins. 

A Bumper Delivery Of Bulbs

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

A Bat, An Unusual Daytime Visitor To The College

The Ancient Corridor

The college receives many visitors on a daily basis, open between 2-5pm in the summer, but today a rather unusual visitor was spotted at the end of an ancient corridor leading to staircase 1 and 2. The visitor, a solitary bat, was found roosting on the outside of the old stone wall above the round window. Believed to be a Pipistrelle, very small, brown fur with a small dog-like face but the team aren't bat experts so could be another one of the 17 species of British bats!

Above The Round Window

A Roosting Bat


Bat Update, Monday 20th September

The bat is no longer at the end of the corridor and has moved on to another, unknown, roosting spot. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Stihl Cordless Hedge Trimmer With Battery Belt

Trimming The Privet Hedge

Last year the team first started to use cordless hedge trimmers to cut the many box balls in the college gardens, see blog entry 18th September 2015 'Stihl HSA 86 Cordless Hedge Trimmer'. This year, as well as being used on the box balls again, it has been used to trim the large privet hedge but with a piece of additional kit for the Lithium ion battery. 

Stihl HSA 86 and Battery Belt

The battery is no longer placed in to the battery compartment of the trimmer but in to a battery belt, the trimmer is then powered by a battery adapter placed in to the empty slot which is connected to the machine with a cable. The hedge trimmer, already very light to use, becomes even lighter with this additional piece of kit.

Battery Pack and Cable

Battery Adapter In The Battery Compartment

Monday, 5 September 2016

Banana In Flower Again

Banana Plant

There are two groups of the hardy banana plant, Musa basjoo, in the herbaceous border and, in the smaller of the two groups, a flower stalk can be seen dangling from the top of one of the plants. This is only the third time this has been seen in the college since the plants were left out all year round, the first was back in September 2010, see blog entry 'Banana Flower' , the second time was two years ago, in October 2014. However, this year's flower emerged a lot earlier than on the two previous occasions, it was first spotted at the end of July!


In order to produce a flower and fruit, inedible in this case, the plant needs between 9 and 15 months of temperatures above 15 degrees centigrade (60 degrees Fahrenheit) and, although these banana plants are kept outside all year, it is the fact that they are wrapped under horticultural fleece from October/November to June that creates a warm micro climate, enough for a flower stalk to develop. The fruit can be seen behind the very unusual yellow/brown flower and are greater in number and in size than seen on both previous stalks.

Fruit and Flower

Inedible Fruit

This pseudostem (trunk) will not need to be wrapped this year as now that it has produced a flower and fruit it will die (monocarpic) so will be cut down to the ground in October, a smaller sucker (pup) is already growing to replace it though, no tall ladders required to wrap this new generation. To see the wrapping of the banana refer to blog entry for the 19th November 2015 'Wrapping Banana Plants During The Tail End Of Storm Barney'.

Banana Plant In Flower (2nd October 2014)

Fruit Stalk (2nd October 2014)

Fruit (2nd October 2014)

Banana Flower (2nd Oct 2014)