Friday, 31 March 2017

Waiting A Decade For A Flower!

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwarzkopf'

The gardening team have been treated to a rare flowering spectacle in the greenhouse which has only just finished today. One of the collection of the succulent Aeonium arboreum 'Schwarzkopf' has been in flower since the beginning of the year, but it was at the start of December last year that the plant started to elongate one of its black rosettes to form the yellow flower panicle at the tip. As the flower faded the stem that once held this impressive bloom started to die back and has now been cut off. These plants have been part of the summer display for the last ten years but, due to their lack of frost hardiness, are kept in the heated greenhouse over the winter, October-May, only to be returned to the outdoors in June for five months, let's hope that the team don't have to wait for a decade for the next flower to appear! 

Impressive Yellow Panicle

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

As March Draws To An End Another March Begins

The Staging Is Full

As March draws to an end another march begins, the march of the plants out of the heated greenhouse and in to the unheated old peach house. The staging in the large heated greenhouse is fully occupied by the plants that were cuttings taken last September, however, with the seeds that were sown at the beginning of the month now germinating rapidly, there is a need to create space on the staging for the seedlings.    

Seeds Germinating Rapidly

A Space Has Been Created

This move is the first step of their march towards the outside world, beginning this morning with the transfer of the hardiest of the cuttings, Salvia, Argyranthemum, Penstemon, Cuphea, Plectranthus and some Pelargonium varieties, which were placed out on the peach house staging. Their journey will continue in a months time when they march onwards to the cold frames before they reach their final destination in a border or container display out in the gardens in June, by which time they will be fully acclimatised to the British summer weather.

Full Staging In The Old Peach House.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Road To Nowhere

Sloping Border

In the past the border in the corner of the Linbury Building courtyard has been used as a heeling in bed to store plants temporarily until a more permanent place was found for them and as a tropical themed border back in 2015, see blog entry for the 11th June 'A Touch Of Tropical In The Linbury'. The slope does however cause a problem when watering the plants so recently the border has been left empty until a solution could be found. The idea of terracing was discussed, agreed and yesterday the team began the project to terrace this small sloping border

Victorian Edging Tiles

Victorian edging tiles were collected from storage and taken to the work area whilst the first lot of 6 to 1 concrete was mixed (6 shovels of sharp sand to 1 part cement plus a small amount of water) to bed and support the tiles, also known as haunching.

Mixing Up The Concrete

A string line was used to mark out the curves required and a small trench dug out along the two lines. Working on a small section at a time, moving along the trench, the concrete mix was laid out in to the trench sufficient for the tiles to be bedded in to then, using a small rubber mallet, were tapped level. Concrete was then placed at the base of each tile, behind and in front, smoothed at an angel to support them using a pointing trowel and left to set overnight 

Bedding And Haunching The Tiles
Adding Leaf  Mould To The Border

Returning to the site this morning, the soil in each section was forked through, leaf mould added and then levelled ready for the first shrubs to be planted.


Pittosporum tenuifolium

The shrub chosen to be planted along the edging tiles is Pittosporum tenuifolium, a glossy leaved evergreen with clusters of small, deep purple flowers in late spring and early summer. However, the team, pleased with the result of the terracing project, were asked by a number of passers by, "Where does the road lead to?" The border has now been named 'The Road To Nowhere'.

Road To Nowhere

Monday, 20 March 2017

Hardy Ferns

Having spent a few days last month reducing the height of the large shrubs in the tree fern border, see blog entry 22nd February 'Restoring The View' and, after weeding and mulching the soil below them, the gardeners returned this morning to plant the border with ferns. 

Adiantum venustum

The five different genera (types) of hardy ferns were purchased during a visit Fibrex Nurseries Ltd of Pebworth, Stratford-upon-Avon, the chosen ferns are: Adiantum venustum, Dryopteris affinis 'Crispa Gracilis Congesta', Dryopteris affinis, Asplenium scolopendrium Crispum Group, Polypodium cambricum 'Richard Kayse', Polystichum polyblepharum and Polystichum setiferum 'Plumoso-Multilobum'. (For more details and advice about these ferns click on the above Fibrex Nurseries Ltd link).

Dryopteris affinis 'Crispa Gracilis Congesta'

Dryopteris affinis

Asplenium scolopendrium Crispum Group

These ferns, dwarfed by the tall tree ferns in the border, were chosen to provide different foliage, form and texture beneath them and also, who can resist the sight of an unfurling fern frond rising from the soil waking up from its winter sleep and announcing spring is here!

Polypodium cambricum 'Richard Kayse'

Polystichum polyblepharum

Polystichum setiferum 'Plumoso-Multilobum'

Newly Planted Ferns

Tree Fern Border

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Narcissus 'Ice Follies'

Newly Planted Bulb Area  25th October 2016

At the end of October last year the team planted approximately 425 bulbs in to an area in front of the Linbury Building, see blog entry for the 25th October 2016 '25Kg Bag Of Daffodils, Narcissus Ice Follies' and it is only now that the results of the time they spent planting the bulbs is being seen.

Narcissus 'Ice Follies' In Flower

The Narcissus 'Ice Follies' is a large cupped daffodil so, rather than having the distinctive trumpet shaped part in the centre, it has a large flattened cup which, in this variety, opens yellow which will turn white in the coming days as it fades with age complimenting the white perianth of outer petals that surround it, for a comparison of flattened cupped and trumpet see the photographs below. (The team are so pleased with this display they may well be planting more 'Ice Follies' in the autumn to make an even better display for March 2018). 

Narcissus 'Ice Follies''
 Cupped (Narcissus 'Ice Follies')

 Trumpet (Narcissus 'Peeping Jenny')

Daffodils And Scilla siberica (Blue)
Additional Note:

27th March, the flattened cups have started to fade.

Flattened Cup Faded To White

Monday, 13 March 2017

Shades Of Lemon And A Rich Violet Purple

Primula acaulis 'Primlet Lemon Shades'

Primula acaulis 'Primlet Lemon Shades'

The two Primula flowering in the gardens at the moment were grown from seed sown in mid July last year, see blog entry for the 15th July 2016 'Eleven Half Trays And Six Shallow Pots'. Ali and Simon saw the picture of the plants in the Ball Colegrave  catalogue, the seed was duly ordered, sown and the resultant plants are everything they had hoped they would be.
The Primula acaulis 'Primlet Lemon Shades' has clusters of scented, pale lemon flowers that look like rosebuds before they open whereas the Primula polyanthus 'Stella Neon Violet'  has rich violet purple flowers with a bright yellow eye in the centre, both these plants are a great new addition to the gardens and may well be seen again in the future.  

Primula polyanthus 'Stella Neon Violet'

Primula polyanthus 'Stella Neon Violet'

Friday, 3 March 2017

Spreading The Spectacle Of Galanthus 'Magnet'

Snowdrop 'Magnet' 8th February 2017 Beside The Urn, A Sparse Display

The project of lifting, splitting and replanting the Galanthus 'Magnet' to fill the herbaceous border has now moved in to its 5th year. Every year since 2012 the largest clumps of these snowdrops have been carefully lifted out of the ground using a border fork and, after replanting a much smaller bunch back in to the space in the border from where it came, the rest of the clump is placed in to a trug. The snowdrops have finished flowering so it is the perfect time to move them, still in leaf and 'in the green'.

Top End Of The Border, A Sparse Display
Galanthus 'Magnet'

Three areas of the border are being focused on this year, the rather sparsely filled area at the top end of the border, a similarly sparse area around the urn at the lower end of the border and the other section of the border that is yet to be filled with Galanthus 'Magnet'.

Full Trugs

Area Around The Urn Filled
Top End Of The Border Filled

With the trugs now full the large clumps of snowdrops they are taken to the areas where they are needed, split in to much smaller bunches of 5-10 bulbs, placed out on to the bare soil and, using a trowel, planted in to the border. 

Starting To Fill The Empty Border

With heavy overnight rain due in the next 24-48 hours the newly planted bunches will be well watered in, now it is a case of waiting until this time next year to see the ever improving display of snowdrops in the herbaceous borders. 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017


 ( Worcester College Gardener's Team Member June 2004 - March 2017)

His basket now lays empty in the tea shed and the team miss him terribly. Thank you for your loyalty and companionship, and for many happy memories, RIP Henry.

Fun In The Snow 9th February 2009