Thursday, 24 August 2017

Potting On Wallflower Plug Plants

Plug Plants In A Box

Five weeks ago seeds were being sown for plants that will be part of the coming winter's display, yesterday the plug plants that will join them arrived.

Three Trays Of Plug Plants

Three trays, 230 wallflowers plugs in each, need potting on in to individual pots, the varieties are:

Wallflower 'Sugar Rush Purple Bicolour' (1 tray)
Wallflower 'Sunset Bronze' (2 trays)

Pushing Out The Plugs

To prevent any mix up with the colours the trays were worked on one at a time. Using a small stick the plugs were gently pushed out of their cells and planted individually in to small pots of multipurpose compost. The pots were placed in to carry containers and, once the contents of the plug trays had all been potted up, were taken to the cold frames. The plants will remain in the frames until October when they will be planted out in to the college borders with the seed sown plants. 

Potting Up The Plug Plants

Ready To be Taken Out To The Cold Frames

Wallflower 'Sugar Rush Purple Bicolour'

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Persicaria orientalis (Kiss Me Over The Garden Gate)

Persicaria orientalis

Hanging over the giant Tetrapanex papyrifera 'Rex' leaves the flowers of Persicaria orientalis add a touch of the flamboyance to the herbaceous border. Commonly known as 'Kiss Me Over The Garden Gate' this annual Persicaria stands over 7 feet tall and is a worthy addition to the border this year. At the end of the tall arching stems are long, cerisse tassels that gently sway as the breeze blows across the border. Seeds will be collected from this unusual, and rarely seen, plant for more to be grown next year.

'Kiss Me Over The Garden Gate'

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgandy'

Eucomis has been mentioned on this blog once before, see blog entry for the 17th July 2012 'Eucomis vandermerwei', with its small, purple flower of just 6 inches in height. Out in the gardens at the moment a much larger Eucomis is in flower, Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgandy', with a flower four times the height, measuring a whopping 24 inches (2 foot) tall, it is a giant compared to the miniature flower of vandermerei! Above burgundy leaves the erect, burgundy stem is covered in delicate star shaped, purple/pink flowers, this 'Sparkling Burgandy' is worthy of its prime location at the front of the herbaceous border.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Gardens & Grounds, Summer 2017

The Gardens & Grounds team have undergone a makeover. The colour of their polo shirts have been changed from navy blue to a bright green, here is this summer's team photograph showing them in their new colours.  

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Gravel Lining The Weir Pools

Two Pools

The two pools by the weir, adjacent to the Sainsbury Building, are in need of a refresh now that the work to extend the lake has been completed. The pools have also been renovated with the old rotten, wooden sides being replaced with new steel sheet piling with a stone capping. To refresh the pools the idea is to put a layer of light gravel on top of the dark, mucky silt, to create a clean, brighter bottom beneath the water. 

3 Tonnes Of Gravel

Equipment Ready

Electric Submersible Pump Didn't Work

The plan was to pump the water out of the two pools in to the lake, spread the gravel over the silt and then switch the weir back on to refill them but, as can be seen by the following series of photographs, best laid plans often go awry!
The first pump the team used didn't work so, whilst waiting for a replacement pump to arrive, the pool with the least amount of water in it was emptied using a trug, scooping the water out and in to the neighbouring pool.

Scooping Out With A Bucket

Shovelling The Gravel

Pouring In The Gravel

Raking The Gravel Level

Once the first pool had been emptied the gravel was then poured in over the silt and raked level. In the afternoon the freshwater petrol pump arrived, courtesy of the University Parks, and it began to empty the deeper pool until it stopped working, a stone had got sucked up and jammed the motor, so the trugs had to be put back in to action. However, the second pool was still full of water so it took two of the team to scoop out the contents in to the lake. Once empty the remainder of the 3 tonnes of gravel were poured in, levelled and the weir switched on again. With the dark, mucky silt layer now covered the pools look cleaner and even the reflection of the neighbouring Sainsbury Building has returned.

Freshwater Petrol Pump

Scooping Out Again!

2nd Pool Emptied

2nd Pool Lined With Gravel

Filled With Water

The Reflection Returns

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty' F1 Hybrid (Ornamental Millet)

Besse Builing Courtyard Planters

Corner Border

Last year during a visit to the plant distributor Ball Colegrave, see blog entry for the 27th July 'A Visit To Ball Colegrave's Summer Showcase 2016', the team were reminded of a plant they used to grow many years ago for the displays within the gardens. That plant was Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty' F1 hybrid (Ornamental Millet) and, following its reintroduction to the displays this year, has been turning heads and causing quite a stir. Numerous visitors to the gardens this summer have been enquiring as to what the tall, dark leaved plant is and being very surprised with it being an ornamental millet. Received in plug form, in the past grown from seed, the plugs were potted up in to their individual pots, grown on and then planted out in to the gardens in June. The many plants are now at the best, their young green leaves have now turned to a dark purple with a dark flower head on a tall dark stem, truly majestic!

Herbaceous Border (L)

Herbaceous Border (R)

Ornamental Millet F1 'Purple Majesty'

Friday, 4 August 2017



Haematopus ostralegus

(Photo from the Internet)

It was the call in flight that first drew Ali's attention, a loud peep-ing call. Heard above the college over the last few days but dismissed as unlikely, the bird, thought to be the owner of this call, was confirmed this morning as it landed on the sports field for just a few minutes, an Oystercatcher! A black and white wading bird with a distinctive orange-red bill, it is usually found on tidal estuaries but, according to The Wildlife Trust, " have moved further inland over the last 50 years to breed on waterways and lakes". This sighting is the 50th different bird species spotted in the college grounds since the recording began in 2009.