Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Soft Landscaping Around The Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre

Digging A Large Hole

The gardening team have had an extraordinary busy first six months of 2017 soft landscaping around the new Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre (SNSC) as well as the daily maintenance of the gardens and preparing for the college ball in June. From the series of photographs the vast SNSC project is now complete following a huge effort from all the team and, on the odd occasion, additional help from strong members of the building contractors and cranes to lift a number of giant trees in to position.
The planting began in December in the area to the rear of the building and then in February the work to the front began in earnest following the arrival of five, rather large, mature field grown River Birch trees, Betula nigra. Five very large holes were dug in the border area to the front, right of the building and each tree, with its heavy and awkward 200 litre root ball, was placed in to their hole and anchored in using the Platipus Rootball Fixing System, see blog entry for the 9th February 'Anchored By A Platipus'.

Very Large Root Ball

Planting The River Birch

Teamwork 8th February 2017

Five Trees Planted

The SNSC Border 9th February 2017

Evergreens, Rear Building Planting December 2016

Planting Liquid Amber 'Slender Silhouette'

Teamwork 9th February 2017

The following day the team returned to the rear of the building to plant three trees amongst the evergreen shrubs that were planted last December. With smaller root balls, but no less awkward due to their height and the location and accessibility to the rear, the trees, Liquidamber styraciflua 'Slender Silhouette', were dragged to the holes and planted and, as with the other trees, anchored using the Platipus system.

Shrubs Join The River Birch

In March, with the planting at the rear of the building now completed, the team returned to work on the border at the front, right of the building. First they planted three red twisted willow trees, Salix erythroflexuosa, six Myrtle, Myrtus communis and eight Viburnum, Viburnum x Hillieri 'Winton'.  From the leaf pits, located at the far end of the college, several full loads of leaf mould were transported down to the building site by tractor and trailer and tipped out at the entrance then, using wheelbarrows, taken round to the border and spread across the soil. A rotavator was hired and used to mix the mulch and soil together.

A Delivery Of Leaf Mould Mulch



Planting Tulips

A week later 300 tulips were planted in to the border, a late flowered, single white variety called 'Maureen'. These tulips were part of the delivery received last September, see blog entry of the 15th 'A Bumper Delivery Of Bulbs' but, due to the planting site not being ready, were planted in groups in to pots in preparation for planting in the spring.   

The SNSC Border 24th March 2017 Trees, Shrubs And Bulbs

A Crane Is Required

During the last week of March the planting of trees and shrubs continued in the border to the left of the SNSC building and in the two beside the lake extension. One of the four Katsura trees, Cercidiphyllum japonicum, had to be lifted by crane over the lake in to the hole that had been dug for it. In the autumn, as the leaves change colour, there will be a smell of burnt sugar in the air, some people say it reminds them of candy floss!

Katsura Tree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum

Tulip 'Maureen' 21st April 2017

SNS Left Side, Planting Shrubs And Perennials 3rd May 2017

Planting The Two Lake Extension Borders, Shrubs And Perennials 3rd May 2017

In April and early May the planting continued, trees, shrubs and perennials filling all the borders. (Planting list will be added to this blog entry shortly).
By June the plants were all settling in, although in this very dry year they have needed alot of watering to keep them alive, but the borders have established rather quickly, as can be seen by the series of photographs below for June and July.   

 SNSC Right, Front Border, 12th June 2017

Path To The Sports Field, 12th June 2017

Lake Extension, 12th June 2017

Soft Landscaping Of SNSC Finished 7th July 2017

SNSC Border (Front, Right), 7th July 2017

View To The Sports Field, 7th July 2017

SNSC, 7th July 2017

SNSC Border (Front, Right) 7th July 2017

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Grass Seed Mixes

9th November 2016 Laurel (Far Left), Cable Channel (Far Right)

Many visitors to the college gardens take the time to stop and congratulate the team on the quality of the grass especially the quad lawn, the banks and the strip in front of the herbaceous border. As well as the many compliments a recurring question is what grass seed is used to create and maintain these wonderful lawns? The answer to that question is two different mixes of seed from Sherriff Amenity's MM Range. The seed used depends on the type of lawn required ie a fine lawn such as the quad requires a mix called MM10, or a dense fine lawn such as on the banks and herbaceous strip require the mix called MM21. (Click on the above link for more information regarding the contents of these seed mixes and the percentage break down of Browntop Bent, Slender Creeping Red Fescue, Chewings Fescue, Hard Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass). 

23rd November 2016

In November of last year a section on the banks had to be removed to make way for the laying of new cables. In February, once the cable laying had been completed, the channel that had been created was filled back in and the seed mix MM21 sown on the newly prepared area. Within one month, thanks to the warm spring providing perfect conditions for germination, the seed had germinated.

13th February 2017
MM21 Seed Mix On The Banks

9th March 2017 MM21 Germinated

In the mean time, whilst the seed was germinating, another area of the banks was being renovated. In December last year the large laurel were removed from the far end of the banks. In February of this year the area was then levelled in preparation for seeding but not before a new metal edge and stone edge were added to retain the soil and match the edging on rest of the banks. Once all the edging work had been completed the seed was broadcast across the area, MM21 again, and within a month, the seed had germinated and a green hue began to slowly cover the soil. By the end of April the new grass was being mown.

9th February 2017 Levelled In Preparation For Seeding
9th March 2017 A New Stone Edge

9th March 2017 Ready For Seeding

24th March 2017 Grass On The Channel

27th June 2017 Grass Where The Laurel Once Stood

The Quad And The Banks

As can be seen from the photograph above the two areas of repair that were soil just 4-5 months ago are now green and the new grass is barely noticeable from the rest of the banks.

5th July 2017 Herbaceous Strip

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Planted In Triplicate

Removing The Winter Display

Last week the nine oak planters were moved from the centre of the Besse Courtyard in preparation for the triennial ball. Now that the ball is over the winter planting has been removed and replaced with this year's summer display. The decision was made to delay the replanting until after the ball in order to prevent the new display from being damaged from any frivolity and, with the risk now gone, the change over has been completed.   

A Truck Full Of Plants

The plants that were due to be used to create the display have been sat in the cold frames waiting patiently until it was their time to come out in to the gardens and, as the planters are usually changed during the first week of June, the plants were potted up in to larger flower pots to allow them to continue to grow during the three week delay. 

Placing Out

1 Large, 1 Medium and 1 Small Planter

Last year's display was made up of all nine planters together in the centre of the courtyard, see blog entry 26th May 2016 'Pelargonium Aplenty', but, having moved them to around the edge of the courtyard for the ball, it was decided to leave them in their new positions. One group of nine became three groups of three; 1 small, 1 medium and 1 large, all planted with the same plants in each planter, planted in triplicate.

3 x Small Planter:
Pelargonium tomentosum 'Chocolate Spot', Pelargonium 'Precision Bright Lilac', Pelargonium 'Lord Bute', Pelargonium denticulatum 'Filicifolia', Pelargonium 'Candy Dancer', Plectranthus coleoides variegata, Pelargonium Ivy Leaf 'Supreme Burgandy' and Amaranthus tricolor 'Red Army'.

3 x Medium Planter :
Pelargonium tomentosum 'Chocolate Spot', Pelargonium 'Precision Bright Lilac', Pelargonium 'Lord Bute', Pelargonium denticulatum 'Filicifolia', Pelargonium 'Clorinda', Pelargonium 'Royal Oak', Pelargonium grandeur odorata 'Cola', Plectranthus coleoides variegata, Pelargonium Ivy Leaf 'Supreme Burgandy'   and  Pennisetum glaucum F1 'Purple Majesty' (Ornamental Millet F1 'Purple Majesty') x 3.

3 x Large Planter:
Pelargonium cordifolium rubrocinctum, Pelargonium tomentosum 'Chocolate Spot', Pelargonium 'Precision Bright Lilac', Pelargonium 'Lord Bute', Pelargonium denticulatum 'Filicifolia', Pelargonium 'Clorinda', Pelargonium 'Royal Oak', Pelargonium Ivy Leaf 'Supreme Burgandy' , Pelargonium papilionaceus, Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate', Plectranthus coleoides variegata, Molinia caerulea 'Edith Dudszus' x 3.

All the pelargonium were used last year but there are some new additions used in the planters this year, they are:
Molinia caerulea 'Edith Dudszus', "rich purple almost black flower stems and dense flower spikes and dense flower spikes profusely produced from tussocks of good green foliage".
Pelargonium 'Candy Dancer', "Light mauve-pink flower, Rose-petal scented"
Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate', "Leaves have a distinct and attractive dark coppery hue".
Pennisetum glaucum F1 'Purple Majesty' (Ornamental Millet F1 'Purple Majesty') Dark purple leaves on maturity with a dark flower plume
Amaranthus tricolor 'Red Army', Deep red crimson foliage and flower spikes

Albizia, Pelargonium, Plectranthus, Molinia

Pelargonium And Amaranthus

Friday, 23 June 2017

Triennial Ball 2017

Acoustic Stage

After two weeks of hard work by the team the day of the Triennial Ball has arrived and the gardens are ready to welcome the many guests to the college. The contractors have put up all the marquees, lights, stages and food stalls, and the ball committee have paid great attention to the detail, making sure that everything is in place and ready to make the ball the perfect evening. 2020 will be the next time the college holds the ball.  

Plane Tree Lights

Live Stage and Big Wheel

Herbaceous Border Roped Off

Lighting In Place

'Border In The Corner' Roped Off

Dining Marquee

Bottom Border Roped Off

Banks Cut, Quad Cut and All Roped Off

Relaxation Marquee (View From The Lake)