Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Removing The Fleece From The Banana Plants

Under wraps since October the fist layer, hessian, was removed a month ago but now the hardy banana plants, Musa basjoo, are bursting out from their horticultural fleece protection.

The fleece is carefully removed revealing the new, lush green foliage that has been desperate to be released from the confines of the winter protection. Now free, these quick growing bananas will give this section of the border a luxuriant, exotic feel.

The Musa basjoo have faired a lot better under the winter wraps than the less hardy red Abyssinian Banana plants, Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'. The red banana are usually dug up and taken to the greenhouse for storage but, being too heavy, had to be left in situ for the first time, a chance had to be taken on them surviving outside through the winter.

The fleece and old leaves were removed to reveal a trunk but no fresh growth from the crown. Cleaned up it is hoped that now they are exposed to fresh air, rain, sunshine and given a feed they will soon start to regrow.

Monday, 18 May 2015

The Summer Planting Begins (Being Careful Not To Tread On The Fledlings!)

Planting up the first pot

The nighttime temperatures are rising reducing the risk of frost, the screaming call of the swifts can be heard overhead, and the Blackbird chicks have fledged in the Pump Quad. All these signs tell the gardeners that it is time to start changing the displays around the college, removing the winter plants and replacing them with those grown for the summer. Ali and Simon begin with the central display pot in the Pump Quad, being careful not to tread on, or disturb the four fledgling Blackbirds that are moving awkwardly around the quad, calling out their location to their parents as they fly in and out of the area with food for them.  

A well hidden Blackbird nest

The young Blackbirds fledged over the weekend from their nest in a buddleja growing out of a wall. They were spotted on the stairs in staircase 15 and 11, the most unsuitable of places in a busy college, but now seemed to have settled out of harms way, in plant pots, on window sills and behind drain pipes!

Fledgling on a window ledge
Fledgling hiding behind a drain pipe

Can you see me?

Here I am!

Summer display pot
The first pot display consists of the succulent Aeonium arboreum 'Schwarzkopf', the variagated Swedish Ivy  Plectranthus coleoides and the deep crimson, velvet flowered Pelargonium 'Lord Bute' (grown from cuttings by Mr Beardmore, Thank you). The team will now spend the next few weeks creating the displays for the summer from the large selection of plants waiting in the cold frames and greenhouse.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Two Goslings

The Canada Geese mentioned in blog entry 27th April 'The Reed Bed Maternity Unit', had eggs that hatched during the weekend of the 2nd/3rd May. Six goslings were seen on the morning of the 4th but by the evening just two remained. Two weeks have passed and the goslings have stayed close to their parents, eating grass and sleeping, growing up fast.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Cow Parsley 'Bashing'

The mass of frothy white flowers in the orchard signals that the Cow Parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris, is once again in flower. The gardener's annual task of removing some of it, in an attempt to control it spreading, began yesterday and continued today, ('bashing' as they call it). Using forks they dig it out of the grass but the tap roots are long and deep in the soil, snapping off as it is lifted, leaving a small piece behind which will grow again.

Wildlife spotted in amongst the grass whilst forking out the Cow Parsley, a Damselfly, wings folded along its abdomen, gently resting.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Peony 'Molly The Witch'

Paeonia mlokosewitschii, that's quite a mouth full so let's call it by its other name, Peony 'Molly The Witch', it's so much easier!

The gardeners have been waiting a long time, some 6 years, for these peony to flower. One plant, very small when planted, was donated and the others were seedlings dug out from a gravel path in the Fellow's Garden; luckily the seedlings have come true, the same colour as the parent plant.

Planted in the tree circles of the Ruskin Building's Serpentine Garden, the single lemon-yellow flowers light up each circle replacing the faded primrose yellow flowers of the Magnolia 'Elizabeth' that stand above them.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Peaceful Purples In The Corner

17th March 2015
Planted out at the end of October 2014, see blog entry for the 23rd 'Wallflower Sunset Purple And Tulip Shirley', the border in the corner has matured well and has been at its best this week.

For the spring display this year the colour scheme was purple. The ivory tulips, with purple veining on the edge of the petals, seem to float above the rich purple, fragrant blooms of the wallflowers, together creating a relaxing, peaceful effect.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Restoring One Of The Memorial Benches

Over the last few months work on restoring one of the memorial benches began. The bench was in poor condition, its paintwork flaking and in desperate need of restoration. Last month the old paint was removed using a power washer, blasting off the dirt and paint. The bench was then put in to storage until Tuesday when work on it began again.

 Using sanding tools of various shapes and sizes, Danny carefully removed the remaining paint creating a smooth surface to which the wood finishing oil could be applied.

The finishing oil chosen was 'Danish Oil' to give an attractive, water resistant low sheen finish. Applied using a cloth the oil was worked in to the wood, two coats were needed to penetrate and protect it from the elements it may encounter whilst out in the gardens. 

The beautiful wood grain, hidden for so many years beneath dirt and flaking paint, can now be seen again. For four days Danny has lovingly restored this memorial bench, soon to be seen out in the gardens again, once it has dried that is.