Thursday, 10 April 2014

Creating A Safe, Accessible Leaf Pit Area

During the very wet winter the large leaf pit, at the top of the sports field, had become inaccessible to the tractors, with tyres spinning and getting stuck in the mud. Unable to safely load the trailers using the New Holland with the grab attachment, the leaf mould had to be loaded into the trailers with shovels, see blog entry 20th January 'Mulching The Rose Garden'. The team spent the day correcting the problems the winter had caused.
The New Holland tractor, with the front loader attachment, was used to level the area in front of the pit, removing the risk of loaded trailers tipping over in the future.

Once the soil had been removed, holes that had been created were filled with rubble and the wacker plate used to compact them.

Over the day, 20 tonnes of hoggin was tipped into the area, each trailer load levelled by rake and compacted with the wacker plate. A slight camber was created in the centre of the area to allow the water to fall away to the edges and into the leaf pit, removing the water logging that had caused the inaccessibility problems.

By the end of the day, a new, safe, accessible area in front of the leaf pit had been created.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A Change In Shape

One of the two strips of lawn that run along the front of the herbaceous border has been altered, changing its shape and extending the border at the same time. The problem area, in need of repair every year, has been removed and a piece of metal edging added along the new straight edge.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Coverings Of Horticultural Fleece

Nuffield Lawn

These odd shaped coverings of fleece have been seen around the college on previous occasions, one of which is referred to in the blog entry 4th October 2012 'Egg Shaped Fleece'. Two sunken areas on the Nuffield were causing a problem when mowing last year, so have been infilled with soil to raise the height and grass seeded.

Front Entrance Lawn
The headland, the turning point for the mower, on one of the two lawns in the front of the college was also in need of repair. Top soil has been added and grass seeded.

A third area, which was also in need of repair, can be found in the orchard. Several old, tired roses have been removed and the holes they left behind have been filled with soil, levelled and grass seed sown. All these areas have been covered in horticultural fleece improving the germination and growing conditions by keeping the area warm, at the same time protecting the seed from hungry birds and, once germinated, the newly emerging grass from any frosts.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The Incubation Of The Eggs Begins

Seven eggs have been laid and the pen has begun incubating them. The cob is still providing nesting material for her to build up the nest whilst she sits on the eggs, she leaves them only for short periods to feed and bathe, returning quickly to her precious clutch, hatching should take place after 35-42 days.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Weaving Plant Supports

Once all the shingle had been moved yesterday Ali, Simon and Kieron moved on to the herbaceous border to make this year's plant supports. Continuing today they created more supports, twisting birch in to many differant shapes and sizes, also using recently cut cornus from the gardens to weave around bamboo canes. The supports will eventually become invisible as the plants grow up through and around them. (For more information on the birch used for the supports, see blog 26th February 2014 'Coppicing Birch')

For Mr B. (From Simon)

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

5 Tonnes Of 20mm Shingle

A large walnut tree in one of the college properties has been causing a problem when it comes to getting grass to grow under the shadow its canopy casts. Three times the area under the edge of the canopy has been sown with grass seed only for it to die off once the tree comes into full leaf. It was decided that instead of having an unsightly, dead lawn, the existing shingle area would be extended to the line of the canopy.

Five tonnes of 20mm shingle was delivered to the property and placed as close to the side entrance as possible, reducing the distance the shingle would need to be transported by wheelbarrow.

Once all five bags had been deposited safely their contents were shovelled into the barrows and pushed into the back garden.

Within an hour all the shingle had been moved into the garden and levelled. The front section of the old lawn will be reseeded.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Coppicing Willow

The Scarlet Willow by the weir in the Provost's garden, Salix alba 'Chermesina', have provided a stunning display of colourful stems this winter. Grown for these stems, the willow is coppiced at this time every year, the resultant growth of 2 to 3 meters in one year produce the young yellow-orange-red stems that created this display, enhanced by their reflection in the water. 

Each stem is cut back to 2 to 4 buds, about 5-10cm above last year's cut, then the willow is collected and tied into bundles for drying out and storage.