Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Winter Protection For The Banana Plants

Top Of The Bananas

The day and night time temperatures are reducing and there have already been two mornings when the team have arrived at work to find frost on the ground. Usually found in tropical climates, the banana plants, Musa basjoo, in the herbaceous border, do not appreciate the colder temperatures and need to be protected from the frosts for the winter. 

Leaves Tied Around The Stem
However, five of the twelve banana plants are too tall to be easily wrapped so the decision was made to cut the top off to reduce their height, 5 metres were cut off on the tallest. Once reduced, and now with easy access using the smaller step ladder, the bananas are wrapped. Those still with leaves have them pulled down around the stem and tied to create a layer of protection. Those without their leaves, having had them cut off, are wrapped with a triple thickness of insulating horticultural fleece and those still with their with leaves, a double thickness. (The plants that had their tops removed had grown a few centimetres overnight before they could be fleeced, room has been left in the fleece for them to grow into!) When all are wrapped, a thick layer of leaf mould is added around the base to protect the root from frost. The plants will remain under cover until late May next year.

Grown A few Centimetres

Easy Access To Height

Wrapped And Mulched

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Sugar Rush Purple, Blue Diamond and Ronaldo

Planted For The Summer, 9th June 2017

4th August 2017

4th August 2017

The pastel colours in the border at the far end of the quad have faded fast as the autumn progresses indicating to the team that it is time to change the display. 

Faded, 1st November 2017

Digging Out The Border

Cuttings were taken from many of the plants back in September and, apart from keeping a few as stock plants, the remainder are dug up and put on the compost heap. Before the border can be prepared for the winter planting the porous pipe has to be lifted, coiled up and put away in storage.

Porous Pipe Lifted and Coiled Up

Adding Leaf Mould

Once cleared of pipe the border is then weeded, the debris removed, leaf mould forked in and then the soil is levelled.

310 Wallflower 'Sugar Rush Purple'

Planting Wallflowers

With the border now ready, the 310 wallflowers are brought over from the nursery and placed out in to their position and planted. The chosen variety this year is 'Sugar Rush Purple', a large flowered, sweetly fragrant, purple wallflower that flowers before Christmas, in fact they have already started to flower!

250 Tulips 'Blue Diamond' and 'Ronaldo'

Bulbs Placed Out Ready For Planting

Once all the wallflowers were in the 250 tulips were placed out amongst them and planted. Two tulips have been chosen this year, Tulip 'Blue Diamond', a large double flower, bluish-purple in colour and Tulip 'Ronaldo', a single flower, dark purple-black in colour.


Wallflowers and Bulbs

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

A Hive Of Activity

Digging Up The First Of The Tender Plants

Over the last few weeks the team have been keeping a close eye on the various weather apps and media outlets watching out for when the first frost is due. Last week the 10 day forecast projected a drop in overnight temperatures and a frost for the 1st November but, in the last few days, this has changed to this Sunday night which has resulted in a hive of activity in the herbaceous border and greenhouse today. The many tender plants that inhabit the border during the summer months will be damaged and even killed by a frost so need to be dug up, transported to the warm greenhouse and potted up for winter storage. Large banana plants, succulents, trees and specimen plants were all removed, carefully taken over to the greenhouse and potted up in to the appropriate sized pots. They will remain under glass until next June when they make the return journey back to the herbaceous border for replanting.

The First Full Trailer Of Tender Plants

The Heavy Banana

A Short Journey To The Greenhouse

Waiting To Be Potted Up

Lifting The Banana Out Of The Border

Safely In The Greenhouse For The Winter And Spring

Monday, 23 October 2017

Snakes Head And Ice Follies

300 Snakes Head Fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris

The planting of Snakes Head Fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris, into the meadow area at the far end the Provost's garden started two years ago with an initial planting of 100 bulbs. A year later a further 500 were planted, the two put on quite a show this spring, see blog entry 4th April 2017 'Fritillaria's Floral Diversity'. This morning the planting of these fritillary continued with a further 300 being planted to make an even better show next year.


To plant the 300 bulbs the team used long handled bulb planters. Holes were made by pushing the steel head of the planter down into the grass and lifting the head out with the plug of soil within it, a bulb is placed into the bottom of the hole, another hole is then made forcing the previous plug of soil out of the head which is then placed back into the other hole covering the bulb, easy!

Long Handled Bulb Planter

Guide Photographs Taken in March 2017

Continuing with the bulb planting in the afternoon the team moved to the Nuffield lawn to plant daffodils, Narcissus 'Ice Follies'. The first planting of this daffodil took place last year, see blog entry 25th October 2016, 25Kg Bag Of Daffodils, Narcissus 'Ice Follies', and, with the use of photographs taken in March, the team are guided to an empty area that needs to be filled. The contents of another 25kg bag were spread out across this empty area and planted, now they have to wait until next March to see the new display.  

Planting Narcissus 'Ice Follies'

The Gap Is Filled

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Official Visit Of HRH The Duchess Of Cornwall

The Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre

The gardens and grounds team have been very busy over the last few weeks as, apart from their daily maintenance duties, they have been focusing their efforts on the area around the new Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre in the build up to todays official opening. They have been planting, weeding, mulching, leafing, sweeping, mowing, edging, dry grouting, turf laying, hedge cutting and power washing all for this special day and the arrival of HRH The Duchess of Cornwall who will be officially opening the centre. Accompanied by her son, alumnus (English 1974) Tom Parker-Bowles, the Duchess arrived at 11:30 today and was warmly welcomed by alumnus (Law 1967) HM Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Tim Stevenson OBE and his wife. The opening ceremony and the unveiling of the dedication stone were held in the Tuanku Bainun Auditorium within the centre in the presence of alumnus (PPE 1976) and benefactor, HRH Sultan Nazrin Shah, Ruler of Perak, Malaysia; the head of the college, Provost Sir Jonathan Bate, and invited guests, alumni, students and staff. After the ceremony finished a drinks reception was held in the foyer before the ceremonial party moved on to the Provost's lodgings.

The Duchess Arrives

The Duchess of Cornwall and Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire and his wife

Entering The New Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre

Leaving The SNS Centre After The Official Opening Ceremony

The Sultan (L), The Duchess (M) and Sir Jonathan Bate, Provost of Worcester College (R)

His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Shah, Ruler of Perak, Malaysia (L)

Walking Through The Orchard To The Provost's Lodgings

The Duchess of Cornwall and The Provost

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

From Summer To Spring In Just Two Days!

Planted Up For The Summer, 9th June 2017

Display At Its Peak, 25th August 2017

Planted up in June, the border in the corner reached its peak display in mid to late August but now looks faded and tired so is ready to be changed for its winter to spring display. 

Salvis, Nicotiana, Cosmos, Zinnia, Pennisetum

Pennisetum, Amaranthus, Zinnia, Tibouchina

Faded And Tired, 9th October 2017

Cleared Of All Architectural And Annual Plants

Yesterday the work to change the display began by digging out the architectural plants, Tibouchina urvilleana and Cyphomandra corymbiflora that are to be kept and all of the annual plants that were taken to the compost heap. The porous pipe was then lifted from the soil, curled up and put away in to storage. Next the soil was cleared of all the plant debris and weeded before a layer of rich, crumbly leaf mould was added to the top, forked in and levelled ready for planting. 

Architectual Plants, Tibouchina urvilleana and Cyphomandra corymbiflora

Cleared Of Debris, Weeds And Porous Pipe

Architectural Plants Repotted

Placed Out and Ready For The Planting Of The Wallflowers

The team returned today to place out and plant the 300 wallflowers and 200 tulips that will create the new floral display in April/May 2018. The wallflower and tulips chosen are:
Wallflower 'Sunset Bronze', deep red with a gold edge on the petals
Tulipa 'Uncle Tom', Double late tulip, maroon red in colour
Tulipa 'Antraciet' , Double late tulip, magenta red in colour

Adding The Tulips

Corner Border Planted

After all the wallflowers and bulbs had been planted the surface of the soil was lightly forked to break up the compaction from the footprints made by the gardeners and then the plants were given a thorough water, now it is a case of just waiting until next spring!

Waiting Until Next Spring