Friday, 27 February 2015

Reducing The Height Of The Portuguese Laurel Hedge

Before (Provost's Garden View)

The Portuguese laurel hedge, Prunus Lusitanica, at the bottom of the Provost's rose garden has not been pruned for several years so, before the birds start to build their nests in it, the decision was made to cut it down to the level of the top of the wall which stands behind it. The task to remove 5-6 feet from the top was started yesterday

Before (Secret Garden View)

A tall ladder was placed inside the hedge and the top cut off using a very sharp Silky Gomtaro straight blade handsaw. The cut branches were dragged over the wall from the secret garden, which overlooks the rose garden, and taken down the steps to the truck for transportation to the wood chipper.

By the end of the day the team had almost finished reducing the top of the hedge, had finished reducing its depth by a foot and managed to trim it with the long reach hedge cutter to remove any uneven edges from its side.

Today the remainder of the top was cut off and the thick ivy removed from the secret garden wall, opening up the views across the quad to the front of the college that had been hidden for so many years.

After (Secret Garden View)

After (Provost's Garden View)

View from the quad's top terrace

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Goosanders, Just Passing Through

Goosander pair, male (L) female (R)

The Goosander have returned to the lake again this year, not in the large groups seen last year but predominantly in pairs. Always expected to arrive in mid February they did not disappoint, here are the recorded 2015 sightings:
10th February - 1 male/1 female (pair)
16th February - 1 male/1 female (pair)
18th February - 1 male
23rd February - 2 male/1 female
24th February - 1 male/1 female (pair), joined by 1 female

For the previous years recorded sightings, see blog entry 7th February 2014 'Goosander's Arrival 2014'.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Four Days Of Splitting Logs

Thursday and Friday's Split Logs

Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday, for the last four days two members of the team have been located at the top end of the college grounds, by the sports field, splitting logs. Six trees of Cedar, Ash, Chestnut and Cherry have been felled to make way for the construction of the new sports pitches leaving a large amount of timber needing to be split. (All the tress have been felled with authorisation from the councils Tree Officer). On Thursday and Friday it was Danny and Callum who split the logs replaced by Simon and Ali on Monday, Danny replaced Simon today.

Demolition Site

Chainsaw Required

The more awkward and larger pieces of timber required the help of a chainsaw to cut them to smaller pieces before the axe could be used on Monday. 

Simon Wielding The Axe

The Result Of Three Days Of Log Splitting
 By the end of the third day two large piles had been split and will be allowed to dry out, Seasoned, before they will be used as firewood to fuel the fires in the Provost's Lodgings and the main hall of the college. The pile has been covered with a tarpaulin to prevent it reabsorbing moisture, a more permanent roof will be erected in the coming weeks. (Seasoning is the process of reducing the moisture content sufficiently to make it suitable for the use as fuel. Felling trees during the winter, when the sap and moisture content within the wood is at its lowest, means that the wood will dry out faster and can be used as firewood a a lot sooner.)

Danny The Axeman

Today Danny and Ali worked together to split the third pile of timber, four trailers filled with split wood taken to the Provost's wood store.

Split logs being dried out, Seasoned

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Potting Up Pelargonium

The 130 Pelargonium cuttings taken last September and potted up in to their own individual pots at the end of October are now ready for the next size pot, moving up from the smaller 9x9x10cm to the larger 12x12x12cm. These plants will remain in the new pots until they are planted out in to the gardens in June.  

In addition to the pelargonium grown from cuttings, an order of 84 plug plants, Pelargonium crispum 'Angeleyes Randy' were received from Ball Colegrave (the UK's leading wholesale distributor of seeds and plants to commercial growers and local authorities). Each plug plant was potted up in to the small pots but it will be a while before they are ready for their final move to the larger pot, end of April possibly. The clusters of white edged, burgundy flowers will be seen in the various pots and planters, and in the border at the bottom of the quad this summer.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Reclaimed Trellis

On the look out for materials around the college that may be used for future projects in the college gardens, the team have had their eyes on the trellis that adorned the top of two bike sheds that were earmarked for demolition when the construction of the new building began. See blog entry 3rd February 'A New Kerb Stone Edge In The Tomato House' for a previous example of the gardeners use of reclaimed/recycled materials, these kerb stones had been stored in the nursery for about 10 years before a use for them was found!

Removed last week Ady, Graham and Callum spent yesterday painting the reclaimed trellis with Sadolin Ebony Wood Stain.

Today the trellis was taken to one of the college's properties where it was erected, replacing the old fence that had fallen down and giving new support to climbing roses.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Adding Fruit To The Hedgerow

The hedgerow that runs along the canal side edge of the college grounds had some new plants added to it today. Found in what was once the student allotment garden, now a building site, six blackcurrant bushes were rescued and transferred to the hedge to add fruit for the wildlife to feed on. Usually the birds are unwanted guests feeding on soft fruit bushes but they will welcome to eat them all.

Reinforced with Hawthorn, Privet, Spindle and Common Hazel in December 2011, see blog entry 'Hedge Reinforcement', this is the first time fruit has been added. The two variates of Blackcurrant planted are 'Ben Sarek' and 'Ben Lomond', both high yielding with large berries.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

3 Planters, 69 Lavender Plants and A Tonne Of Gravel

The project to bring the large planters on The Sainsbury Building balconies back in to use began last August and was finally completed today. A further 69 Lavender plants had been purchased, Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead', flowering in the summer it produces spikes of bluish-purple flowers above grey-green, aromatic leaves.
It produces dense spikes of fragrant, bluish-purple summer flowers above slender, aromatic, grey-green leaves - See more at:
It produces dense spikes of fragrant, bluish-purple summer flowers above slender, aromatic, grey-green leaves - See more at:
It produces dense spikes of fragrant, bluish-purple summer flowers above slender, aromatic, grey-green leaves - See more at:

Twenty three young plants were placed out on the planters, crosses cut through the membrane, the edges folded back, soil carefully removed and placed temporarily in a pot, the plant placed in the hole, the soil in the pot used to backfill around the plant and the membrane edges folded back around its neck. Before the top dressing of gravel was added the surface was swept clean of soil debris created from the digging. Trugs, with ropes attached, were filled with gravel and lifted from ground level to the planters, their contents poured around the plants covering the membrane. Lastly the plants were given a good watering in.

This process was repeated on the other two planters and the project in now finished.