Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Hard Pruning The Winter Flowering Honeysuckle

The Large Winter Flowering Honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, (Before Pruning)

Last mentioned in the blog two months ago, see blog entry for the 9th February 'Sensory Overload From The Winter Flowering Shrubs', the fragrant flowers of the winter flowering honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, have faded indicating that it is now time for it to be pruned. Pruning had been planned for a few weeks ago but the first pollinating insects to have emerged were still visiting it to feed on the few flowers that remained.

The Flowers Have Faded, Time For A Prune!

With all the flowers now faded, and having checked the shrub to see if the blackbirds were not nesting in it this year which they are not, the pruning took place this morning. 

The First Cut

Pruning The Honeysuckle

Over the last 10-15 years this honeysuckle has had an annual light prune to keep it tidy but this has created a large, woody shrub with very few young stems, the majority of the stems are old with leaf on just the top 1-2 foot below which is bare. This growth and lack of young stems gave rise to the long overdue decision to prune it hard back to rejuvenate it. Using secatuers, loppers and saws the shrub was cut down to 2-3 feet, hopefully it will respond to this pruning by producing strong new stems and flower on the new wood grown this summer, only time will tell if this brave decision was not too harsh.

Four Bags Full

Pruned (After)

Pruned (After)

Cut Low Down To Create New Young Stems


Layered Plants Potted Up

Whilst pruning the honeysuckle it was found that it had layered itself, some low stems had bent down and rooted in to the ground so were dug up and potted. New growth was also collected and used for cuttings which are now in the greenhouse mist unit where, it is hoped, they will root.


Monday, 9 April 2018

Pricking Out The Seedlings

Pricking Out The Seedlings

The pricking out of the seedlings began last week and continued today. Sown last month, see blog entry for 9th March 'It's Seed Sowing Time!', the seeds have been germinating and growing quickly and, with over fifty pots of seeds having been sown, there are still plenty of seedlings to be pricked out. Working their way through the pots Simon and Peter choose the largest, strongest seedlings and, holding on to the seed leaves, use a dibber (or the tip of a plant label) to gently ease them from the compost. Depending on their size, the seedlings are planted in to either individual small pots or cellular seed trays filled with compost, then placed out on to the greenhouse staging and watered in. Three quarters of the pots have now been pricked out, the rest will be completed next week. 

Individual Pots

Pots On The Greenhouse Staging

 Cellular Seed Trays On The Greenhouse Staging

Seedlings In The Cellular Seed Trays

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Drooping Racemes of the Oemleria and Stachyurus

Oemleria cerasiformis (Indian Plum)

Drooping Racemes Of Oemleria

Two shrubs, in close proximity to each other, are putting on their own different displays of drooping racemes. Each seem to be attempting to catch your eye as you walk along the path beside the lake. The first to greet you is Oemleria cerasiformis, the Indian Plum, whose almond scented, small white flowers droop delicately along its stems and, if you walk past it without noticing its display, seems to gently tap you on the shoulder to catch your attention. The next shrub, determined not to be outdone by the Oemleria, is Stachyurus praecox, the Early Stachyurus, seems to be shouting "Look at me, look at me!", its small, pale yellow flowers drooping along bronze stems creating an unusual display. But which shrub has the best display? 

Stachyurus praecox
Drooping Racemes Of Stachyurus

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Completing The White Carpet

23rd January 2018

2nd February 2018

The snowdrops on the herbaceous border, Galanthus 'Magnet', gave the gardens a marvellous display in February but the delicate white flowers have faded and the bulbs are now 'in the green'. However, the carpet of white is not quite complete as the far section of the border is still void of snowdrops, waiting to be filled during this year's 'lifting and splitting' process.

2nd February 2015, A White Carpet

Galanthus 'Magnet'

Snowdrops In The Green, Right Border

Not Quite Full, The Empty Section, Left Border

Lifting Snowdrops

The project to fill the herbaceous border with snowdrops began five years ago, see blog entry 11th April 2013 Lifting And Splitting Galanthus 'Magnet', when the original clumps were lifted, split up and replanted to spread them. This process has been repeated every year since and today is, hopefully, the last time as the void in the white carpet will be filled.    

Splitting Snowdrops

Using a border fork the largest clumps were carefully lifted out of the ground, gently prised apart into two clumps, the smallest of 3-5 bulbs is replanted into the original planting space, the other larger clump placed into a trug for planting elsewhere. When the trug is full the contents are taken to the empty section for splitting and replanting.

A Trug Full Of Snowdrops

Small Bunches

Each of the clumps in the trug were themselves split in to groups of 3-5 bulbs and, using a spade to slice in to the soil, placed at the bottom of the spit (the length of the blade of a spade). The spade is then carefully lifted out and the soil trodden down sealing in the bulbs. The heavy rain due tomorrow will water in the snowdrops and next February the white carpet will be complete.


Monday, 26 March 2018

Chionodoxa luciliae

A Splash Of Blue

"What is the name of the blue flower beneath that big tree?" This is the question being asked by the many visitors to the college, and the answer is "Chionodoxa luciliae", commonly known as Glory of The Snow. ("What tree is that and how old is it?" is also asked, "A Plane tree" and "Between 200-300 years old" is the reply).

Beneath The Plane

A View Of Blue

Beneath the old plane tree, this small, early flowering spring bulb, Chionodoxa luciliae, has naturalized well and its clusters of bright blue, white centred, star shaped flowers have created a splash of blue that can be seen from afar by the inquisitive visitors.

Glory Of The Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae)

Chionodoxa luciliae

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Potting On The Plug Plants

Two Trays Og Plug Plants

Two trays of plug plants arrived this morning from Ball Colegrave, 188 young plants that need to be potted on in to their own 8x8x9cm individual pot. 104 Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Baron' (Ornamental Millet) and 84 Verbena 'Aztec Plum Magic', these plants will be used out in the gardens as part of this year's summer display.

Tray, Plugs and Compost

Starting with the tray of Verbena, the tiny plugs were gently eased out of their cells by pushing a pea stick through the hole in the tray beneath each young plant.

Healthy Young Plug Plants, Verbena

8x8x9cm Pot Filled With Compost

Filling the flower pot with seed compost so it is slightly mounded above the rim of the pot, a hole is then made in the compost of a similar size to the plug root ball and, after teasing out the roots at the base of the plug, the plug then placed in the hole. (Seed compost is used at this stage to help promote root growth and to help the plug get established). The plug is then gently pushed down into the hole and the compost firmed around its neck to secure it in the pot, the base of the pot is then gently tapped on the potting bench to settle the compost and to remove any excess. The individual pots are placed in neat rows on the greenhouse staging and watered in.

Planting The Plug

Potted On

Planted Verbena

Ornamental Millet 'Purple Baron' Plugs

All Potted On

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Lavender And Rosemary Replace The Grass

The Banks (Before)

In August 2014 the project to replace the grass on the banks began. The banks had previously been returfed in September 2009 but following an infestation of meadow grass the decision was made to kill off the grass and reseed. The whole process took two months, see the following blog entries for the complete story:
15th August 2014 'Killing Off The Grass On The Banks',
28th August 2014 'Respraying The Grass On The Banks',
15th September 2014 'Grass Seed and Horticultural Fleece',
26th September 2014 'Unveiling The New Grass On The Banks',
10th October 2014 'The First Cut Of The Banks'.

This hard work to improve the quality of grass on the banks was, however, in vain as just 12 months later, at the end of the summer of 2015, the grass was hit with the fungal disease 'leaf spot' and, after treatment with a fungicide in the following spring, they were back under under fleece again, see blog entry 8th March 2016 'Leaf Spot, Melting Out and Horticultural Fleece'

The Banks (Before)

For four years the grass on the banks has been causing Joss problem after problem and, following a number of discussions with Simon, it was agreed that two sections of grass would be removed and replaced with lavender and rosemary. 

Removing The Grass On The First Section

The plants from Branch Nurseries, 130 Lavandula angustifolia 'Vera' and 40 Rosmarinus officinalis 'Roman Beauty'  were delivered three weeks ago and have been waiting in the gardener's nursery area for their big day. Last week two three metre wide sections of grass from either side of the central steps were removed using turf irons in preparation for their planting, some of the plants were placed out to get an idea of the possible spacings. 

Removing The Grass To The Guide Line

Lavender and Rosemary

Positioning The Shrubs, Possible Spacings

Removing The Grass On The Second Section

A Slight Delay

The rosemary were planted in to the newly exposed soil last Friday and, after a slight delay due to snow fall over the weekend, the lavender were placed out and planted today. Due to the angle of the slope, in order to stop the plants from rolling down the banks, pea sticks were used to support each of the plants until they were planted, by lunch time all the lavender and rosemary were in.  

Planting The First Section

Planting Section Two

Placing Out The Lavender For Planting

Preventing The Lavender From Rolling Down The Slope Before Planting

The Banks (After)

The Banks (After)