Friday, 29 September 2017

The Transformation Of The Sainsbury Building Weir

Waiting To Be Planted

The weir beside the Sainsbury Building has been somewhat of a problem area in the gardens for a number of years, see blog entry 1st August 2012 'Tidying The Weir' but over the last five months has undergone a real transformation, see blog entry 10th August 2017 'Gravel Lining The Weir Pools'.

Planting The Border (L)

The final piece of the transformation was the planting up of the the two weirside borders which were completed today.
The plants chosen are:
Cornus alba 'Westonbirt' (Dogwood), Crimson winter stems, green leaves during summer.
Cornus sericea 'Bud's Yellow' (Red Osier Dogwood), Yellow/Green winter stems, oval green leaves during summer.
Cornus alba 'Baton Rouge' (Dogwood), Bright red winter stems, purple leaves in autumn
Hydrangea paniculata 'Phantom' (Paniculate Hydrangea), Dense white conical flowers fading to pink, yellow-green leaves.
Hydrangea quercifolia (Oak-leaved Hydrangea), Large cream/white conical flowers, large oak shaped leaves turning red/purple in the autumn.

Planting The Border (R)

Planted With Cornus And Hydrangea (L)

Planted With Cornus And Hydrangea (R)

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Seven Oak Planters In The Form Of A Cross

Summer Display

The nine planters in the Besse Courtyard/Provost's Yard were the last to be planted up with their summer display, see blog entry for the 27th June 'Planted In Triplicate' but for their winter display they are the first.

Removing The Display

The plants are removed and split in to three groups, those to be kept for future use, plants to be kept as stock plants just in case the the cuttings that were taken from them fail and, finally, plants not needed and destined for the compost heap. The plants to be kept were taken to the greenhouse and potted up in to new pots of fresh compost where they will remain over the winter.

Empty Containers

The New Display

For the summer display the nine planters were placed in to groups of three around the edge of the courtyard but for the winter display seven of them have been moved in to the centre to form a cross.
The plants used to create the winter display are:
Small container x 2, Viburnum tinus 'Eve Price' (1/4 Standard), Phormium tenax 'Verneer' (New Zealand Flax) and Wallflower 'Sunset Orange'.
Medium container x 3, Ilex aquifolium 'Argentea Marginata' (1/2 Standard, Silver Margined Holly), Ilex x altaclerensis 'Camelliifolia' (Highclere Holly) and Wallflower 'Sunset Orange'.
Large container x 1, Laurus nobilis (Bay), Fatsia japonica 'Spider's Webb' and Wallflower 'Sunset Orange'.
In the next month the planters will have a mix tulips planted in them, Tulipa 'Antraciet', Tulipa 'Blue Diamond' and Tulipa 'Orange Princess'.

A Cross Of Seven Oak Planters

Monday, 25 September 2017

Labelling The Bottles Of 'Apple & Pear Juice' 2017

A Good Crop Of Apples On The Trees

The year started well for fruit growers with a warm start to the spring causing a strong and healthy production of blossom. However, in some areas of the country localised frosts in late April followed by a dry early summer hit this blossom affecting the amount of fruit on the trees during harvest time. Fortunately the college orchard escaped the late April frosts when the fruit trees were at their most vulnerable and, with a warm wet July and August, the trees are full of fruit ready for harvesting. 

Good Quality 'Blenheim Orange' Apples

Delicious, Ripe Apples

1/3 Of A Tonne (1)

1/3 Of A Tonne (2)

Last week the team began to harvest the many apples and pears in the orchard, picking and delivering them to Waterperry Gardens, eventually enough to fill two wooden boxes of a third of a tonne each. Pressed, pasteurised and bottled for the college, today it was time for the 540 bottles to be shrink band wrapped, labelled and boxed.   

540 Bottles Of Juice

Heat Shrink Banding Machine

Before each bottle could be labelled it had to be placed in to a heated shrink banding machine to have a band of white plastic shrink wrapped around the cap and neck. Loading the banded bottles in to trays they were taken over to the labelling machine for the large label to be struck on to the front of the bottles. This label consists of the college crest and the words 'Worcester College Oxford, Apple & Pear Juice, Made from Worcester College Apples & Pears Vitamin C and nothing else', details of ingrediants and storage can also be found on the side of the label.

Bottles Ready For Labelling

Vigo Labelling Machine

Labelling Bottles, The Large Front Label

A much smaller label for the back of the bottle, with the words 'Best Before Dec 2018' as well as a picture of a duck on it, had to be put on by hand rather than machine. Once the bottle had both labels on, it was placed in to a box, 15 bottles in each box, and then the box was sealed shut with tape.

Duck Labels On The Back Of The Bottle

Boxed Bottles

The whole process of shrink band wrapping and labelling to boxing up took just two hours, 540 bottles in to 36 boxes. The plan is to begin selling this year's juice on Fresher's Day, the day the first year students arrive with their families, this is a first for the gardening team as the juice is not normally ready for sale until December!

Boxed And Sealed

Ready For Delivery

Update, Fresher's Day Tuesday 3rd October.
70 bottles of the juice are sold to the freshers and their families along with a taste of some of the apples from the orchard.

Bottles For Sale

Samples Of The Apples
Update, 24th October 2017
A further two wooden boxes of a third of a tonne each have been filled with Worcester apples and pears resulting in a further 518 bottles, that's a grand total of 1058 bottles for 2017!


Friday, 22 September 2017

A Mist Unit Full Of Cuttings

Cuttings On The Staging

The overnight temperatures are slowly dropping but there have been no forecast of frosts just yet but, with the risk of frost in mind, cuttings have been taken from many of the tender plants that are used in the pot and border displays in the gardens. The task of taking hundreds of cutting started two weeks ago and is now complete.

A Full Mist Unit

Collecting suitable cutting material from the tender plants out in the gardens this is taken back to the potting shed for processing. Using a sharp, sterilised cuttings knife each stem is cut beneath a leaf joint/node (nodal cut) leaving the cutting about 2-3 inches long. The bottom leaves, just above the nodal cut, are cut off and the soft growing tip is then pinched off. Several cuttings are prepared of each plant before the base of each is dipped in to hormone rooting powder sufficient to cover the cuts. With the aid of a dipper they are placed around the inside of the rim of a small, shallow pot of seed compost, watered in and placed in the mist unit, apart from the pelargonium which are placed on the staging. Once rooted the cuttings will be potted in to individual pots and in June next year will be planted out in to the gardens and be part of 2018's summer display.

Cuttings September 2017

Monday, 18 September 2017

Adding A Touch Of Jurassic To The Gardens

Tied Up To The Tennis Court Fenc, 24th August

Delivered four weeks ago the new tree ferns are settling in well to their new home. A generous gift from an old member, the tree ferns, Dicksonia antartica, are a welcome addition to the gardens and can be found in the border beside the bridge and the one behind the giant Catalpa tree. 


Delivered on a pallet, the eight frondless trunks of various sizes were packed in an orderly fashion on top of each other. Unloaded one at a time they were carefully transported the short distance to the tennis court where they were stood upright and tied up against the fencing for support. Watered twice a day, they remained there for two weeks until the borders and the team were ready to plant them.

Tree Fern Glade Beside The Bridge, 6th September

The tree ferns were then taken from this resting place at the far end of the college and transported down to the two borders where they were planted. In the weeks since their arrival delicate new fronds have started to emerge from each of the crowns, slowly unfurling and have continued to do so since planting. These new tree ferns have added structure and a touch of the Jurassic period to the borders they now inhabit, a most impressive addition to the gardens, thank you. 

Border Behind The Giant Catalpa, 6th September

New Fronds Unfurling

New Fronds

Update 29th September 2017, Look how much they have grown!

Tree Fern Glade Beside The Bridge, 29th September

Border Behind The Giant Catalpa, 29th September

Thursday, 14 September 2017

A Visit To Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

 Entrance Planting

Last month the gardening team from Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens (CWP&G) came to the college for a tour around the college gardens lead by Simon and today the college gardens and grounds team were treated to a tour of their gardens by their head gardener, Tim. Situated 20 miles west of Oxford, the whole team made the short trip over to Burford and spent a wonderful morning exploring the grounds, marvelling at the planting, and occasionally having their heads turned by the animals in their enclosures, meerkats and penguins are hard to resist!

Tropical Entrance Planting

Container Display

Tim very generously gave up three hours of his day to take the team around the gardens, giving a very detailed tour of the borders and the many different planting styles required in and around the animal enclosures. The superlative planting, sublime use of colour, texture and form, the attention to detail and hard work was acknowledged and appreciated by all the team, truly inspirational. Thank you to Jan (CWP&G) and Simon for organising these memorable tours. 

Desert Planting

Humboldt Penguins

Slender Tailed Meerkats

Tropical Island Bed

Seat With A Tropical View

Hot and Tropical

Prairie Dogs

Ring-Tailed Lemur

Red Panda