Friday, 21 August 2015

New Additions To The College Waterfowl Community



The college waterfowl has seen the welcome addition of six young ducks to their community. These ducks, 8-9 weeks old, were introduced to the lake last week and have all settled in well with the other waterfowl. One duck has a rather unusual appearance, a powder-puff of feathers on its head, hence its newly given name 'Tufty'. This duck is a Crested Duck, for more information about this breed of duck and the fascinating science behind the powder-puff click on 'Crest'  (a link to The Domestic Waterfowl Club of Great Britain)

Crested Duck

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Wallflower 'Treasure Primrose' and 'Sunset White'



Three trays of Wallflowers were delivered yesterday afternoon from Ball Colegrave, two of 'Sunset White' and one of 'Treasure Primrose', 720 small plug plants. 


Having managed to pot up the plants from one of the trays yesterday, Graham and Ali went back in to the greenhouse today to do the other two.


The tray is watered first to soften the compost. Each plant is then removed from its cell by gently pushing a small cane through the hole below and, holding on to the leaves, carefully lifting it out. 


Each plug plant is planted in to its own 7x7x8cm pot filled with a John Innes/multipurpose compost mix. A hole is made in the compost slightly larger than the plug, the plug is then placed in to the hole and the compost gently firmed around the roots to secure it in place. 


The young plants will remain in the well ventilated greenhouse for a week whilst they settle in to their pots. They will then be moved outside to the cold frames where they will remain until the first few weeks of October when they will be planted out to create the winter/spring displays.  

Monday, 17 August 2015

Hungry Cabbage White Butterfly Caterpillars



Whilst dead heading the herbaceous border Ali noticed a change in the appearance in the group of Cleome. On closer inspection the reason was soon identified, hundreds of hungry caterpillars belonging to the Cabbage White Butterfly!


Many of the leaves, seed pods and newly emerging flower heads had been eaten. Quite partial to Cleome, the caterpillars had been having a feast until they were spotted. To prevent any further damage, and not wanting to use chemicals, Ali cut off the top of one plant that was covered in the hungry pests, removed the rolled leaves, cut off stripped and damaged leaves still being munched on, and hand picked the rest off. All the plant material and caterpillars were taken to the compost heap and placed on the top where they will be able to continue eating before they then move away to find a suitable pupation site. The life cycle will continue as the pupae hatch and the new butterflies emerge. 





Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Scabiosa atropurpurea 'Ace Of Spades'



A new plant to the gardens this year, and grown from seed, is the pin cushion flower Scabiosa atropurpurea 'Ace of Spades'. Several large specimens can be found together in the herbaceous border in amongst the dark succulant Aeonium arboreum Schwarzkopf. Dark plum, almost black in colour, the flowers are fully double with small white flecks creating the look of a pin cushion.  







Friday, 7 August 2015

From Scissor Lift To Tripod Ladder


2009
Six years ago when cutting the large yew hedge the only way to safely access it was to use a scissor lift, see above photograph. The height was reduced in 2010 and a tripod ladder has been used ever since to reach the top and sides. Yesterday Joss spent the morning cutting one side, the other side was cut back in June, now all that remains to be done is the top.  




Thursday, 6 August 2015

Adding A Little Bit Of 'Sparkle' To The Greenhouse



Ali spent the morning in the greenhouse cleaning the many panes of glass that make up the both sides and ends. This was the first time 'Verritex Pro', a glass cleaning solution, had been used, mixing it with water and applying it with a mop. 



According the the product description, "Verritex is a specialist, acid free, environmentally sensitive solution developed for the safe and efficient cleaning of all glass surfaces. Ideal for large areas of inaccessible glass such as: professional greenhouses, amenity buildings or high rise buildings. Verritex Pro easily removes dirt, soot, sticky sap, grease, soils, pesticide and chemical residues, and algae. Verritex can be used in confined spaces as it does not give off fumes or odours during use, which makes it an ideal cleaner for the professional horticulturalist. Verritex achieves maximum ‘sparkle’ and ensures optimum light transmission, essential for healthy and efficient plant growth.
Unlike acids it does not etch or damage the glass surface instead it efficiently removes all forms of soiling quickly and effectively. An alternative to using corrosive and aggressive chemicals such as hydrofluoric acid. With a pH of 9.8 Verritex it will not damage sensitive surfaces such as aluminium or magnesium alloys."

Sparkling Glass

The solution was rinsed off with cold water and, whilst the glass dried, Ali brushed off the dirt on the wooden slatted tops before they were placed back on to the aluminium staging. A final sweep through the central isle and the greenhouse is now ready for September when the cuttings are taken. (The cleaned glass does have a 'sparkle' too)


Ready

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Smell Of Jeyes Fluid


19th June 2015

The large greenhouse has stood empty since the last of the plants were removed on the 19th June.


Today the deep clean began starting with the removal of the plant debris. Ali, using the battery powered, cordless leaf blower, carefully guided all the debris to one corner of the greenhouse. Then the wooden slatted tops were taken off the aluminium staging, placed on the floor in the central isle and the staging blown clear of debris and soil. Using a wire rake the pile was collected up and taken to the compost heap. Then greenhouse was now ready for disinfecting.





Jeyes Fluid, perfect for disinfecting the aluminium staging, the hard flooring and the stone, was mixed with water. For the staging the Jeyes was applied using a scrubbing brush and for the floor and stone it was applied using a watering can as a drench.



All the applied areas were then given a cold water wash off and allowed to dry.




Once dry, Ali turned her attention to cleaning the dirty mist unit, preparing it for the cuttings that will be in residence come September. The filthy top inch of sharp sand was removed revealing the soil warming cable that will provide bottom heat for the cuttings. Jeyes Fluid, mixed with water and applied using a scrubbing brush, was used to disinfect the wooden frame, mist nozzles and pipes, leaf sensor and polycarbonate side, and as with the rest of the greenhouse, once dry was given a cold water rinse with a clean brush. A fresh layer of sand will be placed on top of the cables in the coming weeks. All that remains to be done is to clean the inside of the greenhouse glass, brush the dirt off the wooden slatted tops and put them back on the aluminium staging, and wash Ali and her clothes as they stink of Jeyes Fluid!