Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Tree Watering Bags

Tree Watering Bag

Since last December the team have planted 17 trees in the gardens that all need regular watering. Following a recommendation, 10 bags have been purchased to assist in their watering, once filled they can be left to release water slowly to the tree roots over several hours.



The bag is wrapped around the trunk and the sides zipped up to complete the 'skirt'. For larger trees bags can be zipped together to increase the volume of water applied to the roots. Each bag has an inner pocket which is filled with up to 75 litres of water.

Filling Up With Water

The trees that were near a water source had their bags filled using a hose but others further away had to be filled with several watering cans full of water. When the pocket is a quarter full, using the handles at the top, the bag is carefully lifted a few inches off the ground to allow the water to expand in to all the creases and folds. Placing the bag gently back down on the ground the filling continued until sufficient water has been added. The water slowly drips through the holes in the base of the bag evenly distributing the water to the roots. These bags haven't been used in the gardens before but seem to be a very efficient way to water newly planted trees.   

Five Trees, Five Bags

Monday, 22 February 2016

Tidying Up The Margins

Untidy Margins

The dead and dying foliage of the marginal planting beside the weir has collapsed and is ready to be cut down to ground level.

Willow Fencing

Before the cutting down can proceed the temporary willow fence, created last year to prevent the Canada Geese from leaving the water and waddling in to the Provost's garden, needed to be removed. To see the willow fencing refer to blog entry 18th March 2015 'Willow Weaving A Goose Proof Fence, A Flower, Fish, Dragonfly and An Igloo'.

Rooted Willow

However, the fence would have been easier to remove had the pieces of willow not rooted in to the wet, clay soil. Once they had all been dug out or pulled up the cutting down began.

Cutting Down The Dead And Dying Foliage

Using the long reach hedge cutter the foliage was cut down, cleared from the waters edge using a spring rake and then given a final, closer cut.

A Clear Waters Edge
Scooping Up The Pond Weed

With the improved accessibility to the water's edge the pond weed on the surface was scooped off. 

A View To The Bridge

The finishing touch, a layer of wood chip over the cut down marginal planting and, before it all regrows, a clear view through to the Provost's garden.

A Clear View

Friday, 19 February 2016

National Nest Box Week 2016

The British Trust of Ornithology's National Nest Box Week (NNBW) takes place every year from February 14-21st and this year the gardeners have risen to the challenge.

"NNBW aims to encourage everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area in order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our breeding birds and wildlife."

Two boxes were put up a few weeks ago with a further five being put up today. Since the first box was put up in February 2009 the team have now put up 24 boxes around the college grounds, many of which are occupied every year.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Disturbing A Hibernating Toad

The deciduous ornamental grasses in the Canal Building borders now look like straw and need to be cut back hard to ground level before the new growth begins in the Spring. As there are so many of them, a hedge cutter is used to expedite the process with the cut down stems being raked off the border on to the paving. 

As the stems were raked a movement was spotted amongst the leaf litter, a hibernating toad! The toad, having survived a hedge cutter and a rake, seemed unperturbed by the whole process.

Hibernating Toad

Unharmed, it sat for a while watching the goings on around it. After about an hour it decided to go back underneath the leaves to continue its sleep.

I'm Watching You!

Going Back To Sleep, But I Can Still See You

Once all the cut down grass had been taken to the compost heap, a wood chip mulch was put on to the border, with particular care taken when covering the area the toad was hibernating in.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Laurel And Shrub Clearance Update

(Before) 25th January 2016

Three weeks after the project began all the large laurel and overgrown shrubs have been cleared from path on the north side of the college. All the ivy, weeds and ground cover have also been carefully removed. The large stumps that are still protruding from the soil will be ground out next week and the soil levelled in preparation for grass seed. For years the path has been very dark and, at night, rather eerie to walk along but the removal of all the shrubs allows the light to flood in, now more scary shadows. This project has received many positive comments from staff and students who now enjoy their walk along the path and the new, unobscured view across the sports field to the lake.

(After) 12th February 2016
Unobscured View Across The Sports Field

View To The New Nazrin Shah Building (Under Construction)

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Lawnmower Demo 'Allett RM 34 Stadium Mower'

Today the team were treated to a demonstration of the new wide area rotary mower, the 'Allett RM 34 Stadium Mower'. Developed in conjunction with leading groundsmen and launched at the SALTEX (Sports Amenities Landscaping Trade Exhibition) 2014, its 223cc Briggs and Stratton® 950E vertical crankshaft engine powers two 18" high lift, contra rotating blades that can be adjusted for a cutting height of between 15-75mm.

With a five speed gearbox the drive speed can be controlled by the user, some of the team preferred 3rd gear and some 5th (and a lot faster!).

A large 34" cutting width and a 3 piece steel, full width rear roller creates a good size stripe on the lawn. The overall result, a good quality cut from a mower that is light and easy to manoeuvre.  

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Snowdrops And Daffodils Blooming Early

Beneath The Catalpa Tree

The unusually mild weather this winter has caused confusion in many plants causing them to bloom early. Flowering many weeks ahead of their usual floral display the snowdrops and daffodils are blooming early, together they are a welcome sight reminding the team that spring is perhaps just around the corner.
The area of planting showing this mixed display is the result of a project started two years ago see blog entries 5th March 2015 'Snowdrops, Aconites and Narcissus Beneath The Catalpa Tree' and 4th March 2014 'Lifting, Splitting And Transplanting Winter Aconites'. The idea was to extend the bulb area beneath the Catalpa tree, an area which was a mixture of bare earth, grass and exposed tree roots. The snowdrops and daffodils have established themselves well and seem to be thriving in there new location.

Snowdrops And Daffodils