Thursday, 4 February 2016

Snowdrops And Daffodils Blooming Early


Beneath The Catalpa Tree

The unusually mild weather this winter has caused confusion in many plants causing them to bloom early. Flowering many weeks ahead of their usual floral display the snowdrops and daffodils are blooming early, together they are a welcome sight reminding the team that spring is perhaps just around the corner.
The area of planting showing this mixed display is the result of a project started two years ago see blog entries 5th March 2015 'Snowdrops, Aconites and Narcissus Beneath The Catalpa Tree' and 4th March 2014 'Lifting, Splitting And Transplanting Winter Aconites'. The idea was to extend the bulb area beneath the Catalpa tree, an area which was a mixture of bare earth, grass and exposed tree roots. The snowdrops and daffodils have established themselves well and seem to be thriving in there new location.


Snowdrops And Daffodils

 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Laurel Clearance Continues



The task to clear the laurel from the side of the sports field continued today with the removal of the next two laurel further along the path.

The Next Two Laurel Further Along The Path
 

The Chainsaw, sharpened, and aroborist saws were again used to cut through the thick laurel branches. The wood too thick to go through the chipper was cut up in to logs and placed in the wood store to be dried out before it gets used in the college fireplaces. 



Once the cutting down, logging and chipping had been finished the ground clearance began. The New Holland tractor with the grab attachment was used to scrape the ivy out of the ground and loosen the soil. The soil was then forked through to remove the ivy and weeds and landscapes rakes used to level the surface. The team will return next week to continue the project.


A similar project of removing overgrown shrubs and ground clearance was undertaken at the very end of the footpath in 2012, see blog entries 26th September 'Behind The Tennis Courts' and 2nd November 'Two New Areas Of Grass'.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Removing The Large Laurel


Four Large Laurel

On Monday the team started a new project today that will continue over the coming weeks. The aim is to remove the large laurel that grow between the sports field and the footpath to the Canal Building. These large shrubs block out any natural light that would ordinarily reach the path so need to be removed. 

Laurel (Before)

The Dark Path (Before)


Chainsaws and very sharp arborist hand saws were used to cut the laurel's thick branches until all that remained were the stumps that will be ground out at a later date.   



 

All the cut down material was put through the chipper and the resultant wood chippings spread over the soil as a mulch. By the end of the first day two of the laurel had been cut down and the difference could already be seen to the amount of light now reaching the footpath.


(After) First Two Laurel Removed
Today the ivy ground cover was dug out and the soil levelled to create a surface ready for grass seed.

The Dark Path (After) Two Laurel Removed


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The Return Of The Winter Colour On The Salix 'Yelverton'


22nd April 2015

Last spring the four Salix alba 'Yelverton' were heavily pruned in the hope that this winter the colour of the stems would be a rich bronze-red rather than the rather disappointing yellow-green seen in the previous year, see blog entry 13th March 2015 'Pruning The Salix Yelverton For The Return Of Winter Colour'.

30th October 2015

The four Salix began to show signs of life in April when the buds started to burst, a relief to the team that the very hard prune had not killed the trees! The new buds continued to grow to form multiple long stems but it was not until the leaves had fallen in the autumn that the result of the pruning was seen, a success and the return of the warm, rich colours that brighten up the coldest of days. 

Winter Colour January 2016


Warm, Rich Bronze-Red Colours Return

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Wisteria And Goldfinch

 
A Very Tangled Wisteria (Before)

On Monday the pruning of the wisteria in the gardens began. The first to be pruned were the two located on the terrace of the quad each taking a day to complete.

Last Year's Flowering Spur

Pruned twice a year, the summer prune that takes place in July-August is to shorten the long, whippy shoots and the winter prune in January to February is to remove the dead, control the size and shape and, most importantly, to create a wonderful flower display. Using sharpened secateurs the current season's growth is cut back to encourage the development of new flowering spurs and the existing flowering spurs, that created last year's wonderful display, are cut back to two to four buds for this year's floral display in May. 

Flowering Spur

Pruned (After)

As the wisteria was pruned a number of birds nests were found having become visible now that the foliage has fallen. These nests were left behind by Goldfinch, the wisteria seems to be their nest site of choice, and are built with moss, grass and lichen, lined with wool and plant down. For a previous encounter with the Goldfinch in the wisteria see the blog entry for the 30th May 2014 'A Brief Encounter With Three Young Goldfinch'.

Goldfinch Nest

Goldfinch On the Teasels (8h January 2016

Having spent the first two days of this week working on the terrace wisteria the next one to be pruned was at the bottom of the quad along the railings. Completed today three wisteria have been pruned in four days leaving a further five to be pruned next week.


Thursday, 7 January 2016

The Sap Is Rising



The meteorological winter began on the 1st of December 2015 and ends on 29 February 2016. With regard to the Crimson Glory Vine, Vitis coignetiae 'Claret Cloak', pruning should be carried out in early to mid-winter when the plants are dormant and before the sap starts to rise so, in theory, pruning now is the correct time of year. However, this winter has been far from usual with last month being the warmest December since records began as well as the wettest throwing nature in to confusion.


An example of this confusion was seen today when Simon and Ali began to prune the vine. Aware that pruning too late will cause 'bleeding' they carefully cut a few low level stems but immediately saw that sap was dripping from the wounds. Choosing higher level stems they cut a few more stems and these wounds remained dry. As the sap had already started to rise they decided to only prune the top two thirds of the plant. The two other vines in the gardens have also been pruned today and a note made to return to the vines in December in the hope that the sap hasn't started to rise early again.



Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Hitting The Ground Running With Some Hard Landscaping


Chain Link Drag Harrow

Welcome back to Worcester College Gardener's Blog and a Happy New Year to you all.
The team returned to work yesterday but today, on only their second day back at work, they hit the ground running! 10 tonnes of hoggin, as dug ballast, was delivered first thing this morning for the first hard landscaping project of 2016. The project, to resurface half of the path in the quad, one side and one end, the first half was resurfaced last year, see blog entry 1st April 2015 'Renovating The Path In The Quad'

Dragging The Harrow

Unlike last year a chain link drag harrow was used to break up the old surface instead of using forks. Attached to the small ride-on mower, grass box removed, the harrow was dragged along the surface, its sharp spikes digging in to the compacted surface weighed down by four 25kg bags of John Innes compost. Forks were only used to break up the edges the harrow couldn't reach.

The Broken Path

Sharp Spikes

Loading The Wheelbarrows

Over the course of the morning the hoggin was transported to the quad, tipped on to the old path in front of the cottages and raked to create a slight camber. 

Unloading And Raking


Raking To Form A Slight Camber

Using The Wacker Plate

In the afternoon a wacker plate was used to compact the new surface, Simon and Kieron manoeuvring the vibrating plate over the hoggin along the entire length and breadth of the path four times, a very slow process! Tomorrow a further 10 tonnes will be delivered to continue the project when today's sequence of events will be repeated and the far end of the path will be resurfaced.

New Path
PROJECT UPDATE 6TH JAN

The New Far End Path

The project has been completed today with the resurfacing of the path at the far end of the quad.

The Completed Project