Friday, 27 March 2015

The Chiffchaff Have Arrived

On a beautiful warm, sunny spring day, the first Chiffchaff has been heard in the college grounds having made the long flight from the Mediterranean and western Africa where they spend the winter. Six days later than last year's arrival date, 21st March, the Chiffchaff was seen at the top of trees at the far end of the broadwalk singing its wonderful song that heralds the arrival of spring and the first of the summer migrants.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Moving Out, Hardening Off And Potting On

A Full Greenhouse
Space is at a premium in the greenhouse, the seeds have germinated and need to be pricked out but the cuttings are taking up the all the room on the benches.

Peach House

To make room the cuttings that were taken in September, potted up in October and potted on in February, are moved out of the heated greenhouse and in to the colder peach house. Acclimatising these plants to the harsher outdoor conditions is a process called 'hardening off', they will have to ready by the beginning of June when they will be planted outside as part of this year's summer display.  

Space On The Bench Waiting To Be Filled
Now that space in the greenhouse has been made the second lot of cuttings, the more tender plants, are potted on in to bigger individual pots and moved along the bench to where their predecessors one sat.

Potting On

The Space Filled

Sufficient room has now been created on the bench for the seedlings, but this won't be empty for long as the pricking out starts next week.

Ready For The Seedlings

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A New Hoggin Path In The Fellow's Garden

Two small deliveries of hoggin arrived today to renovate the gravel path in the Fellow's garden. Six and a half tonnes were dropped by the gate to the garden and transferred in by wheelbarrow. Tipped on to the old path and raked to form a slight camber, a raised center which sheds water to each side, the hoggin was then compacted using a wacker plate. A further delivery is due tomorrow, 10 tonnes in total for the new, improved path.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Pruning The Fig (Ficus carica)


The Fig, Ficus carica, has not had a hard prune since 'The Return Of Bodge It and Scarper', (Mick and Ali), see blog entry 31st March 2009. Having been lightly pruned over the last 6 years it has now got too large and is in need of some renovation. The fig has been trying to escape from the corner, over hanging its boundary and creating shade on the surrounding grass, not too mention, making it difficult to reach the fruit. Ali was given the task of pruning it, cutting the largest, oldest branches back to a few inches, reducing the height for easy picking, removing branches to improve the shape as well as removing the 'Three D's', dead, diseased and damaged wood. The fig is now away from the boundary of its gravelled corner with plenty of room to grow over the next few years.


Friday, 20 March 2015

Solar Eclipse 2015

For the first time this century a solar eclipse was seen across the skies of Britain and, as the eclipse started, the clouds parted across central Oxford to reveal the Moon passing between the Sun and the Earth. Here are a few photographs taken by Ali from within the college grounds: 


Eclipse reflection in the lake

Eclipse reflection

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Demonstration By Nomix Enviro

Chris Vernon, Area Manager from 'Nomix Enviro' visited the college this morning to give the team a demonstration of their Hand-held Total Droplet Control (TDC) applicators. Currently using Cooper Peglar 15 litre knapsack sprayers to apply herbicides these have become cumbersome and very heavy when spraying large areas,over long periods of time. The Nomix Frontline Compact and Frontline Classic are both lightweight, carrying a load of 750ml and 5 litres respectively. The applicators use the Nomix herbicides that do not require any mixing with water, just herbicide packs that connect directly to them eliminating any risk to the operator from mixing chemicals and protecting the environment by avoiding spillages. 

The Nomix TDC is a low volume, targeted herbicide application system that delivers a constant, uniform droplet size and spray pattern of oil-emulsion formulations that stick to the leaf, significantly reducing the risk of run off and virtually eliminating spray drift. Lots of information for the team to think about, thank you Chris for coming in to see us.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Willow Weaving A Goose Proof Fence, A Flower, Fish, Dragonfly and An Igloo

The six Scarlet Willow, Salix alba 'Chermesina', planted by the lake in April 2012, see blog entry 17th April 'The Stump Border', are pruned at this time of this year to encourage new yellow-red stems for display next winter, but what to do with the huge amount of willow prunings?

Pruned hard back the willow produces an annual growth of stems of up to 10 foot tall, so for the first time the prunings have been used to create the goose proof fence (usually made with wooden stakes and wire, see blog entry 18th March 2014 'Canada Goose Proof Fence').


To start, some of the long willow prunings, rods, were bent over and their ends pushed into the soil. (It is hoped the ends will not root in to the soil too deeply as the fence will need to be removed when the marginal planting is cut down next January). Simon, Kieron and Ali then continued weaving more willow onto this framework to create a goose proof fence to stop the geese from wandering in to the Provost's garden. Once finished a flower, fish and a dragonfly had also been created, even an igloo play den in the garden!

Weaving The Dragonfly



Goose Proof Fence

Igloo (Play Den)
Whilst creating the fence to keep the geese out the swans decided to show Kieron and Ali the defects and weaknesses in the early stages of the design. The following series of photographs show their encounter with the swans who broke through the fence and, somehow, gave them tips on how to improve and strengthen the design!

Try again Kieron, you need to make it bigger and stronger!