Wednesday, 12 October 2016

From Venice To Madrid

22nd August 2016

The 'border in the corner' has been putting on a very colourful display over the summer peaking late August to mid September. Planted up at the end of May, see blog entry for the 27th 'New To The Corner Decorative, Pom-Pom, Ball and Semi-Cactus Dahlia' the plants have matured well and the colour palette is everything the team had hoped for when initially choosing the mix of plants. (For the planting list see the same blog entry as above).

A Seat Amongst The Flowers

Dahlia 'Jescot Julie'

The Dahlia, the Venetian Collection by Sarah Raven, has filled the corner with a mix of purple, plum, orange, crimson-red, velvet-red and magenta which have been complimented well by the vivid orange flowers of Zinnia elegans 'Super Yoga Orange', the deep red crimson tall spires of Amaranthus tricolor 'Red Army' and the mass of tiny orange flowers of Tagetes tenuifolia 'Paprika'.

Dahlia 'Jowey Mirella' and Zinna 'Super Yoga Orange'

Dahlia 'Downham Royal'

Dahlia 'Ambition'

Dahlia 'New Baby'

Dahlia 'Sam Hopkins'

10th October 2016

Although the Dahlia are still flowering well the border is starting to look tired and the strong colours have faded leading to the decision to clear it all out and plant it up with the winter/spring display.

Lifted Dahlia Tubers

On Monday all the annual plants, grown from seed, were dug out and taken to the compost heap. The dahlia tubers were lifted and taken to the greenhouse for drying out before being put in to trays of dry compost for winter storage.

Drying Out The Dahlia Tubers

Cleared And Ready For Planting

Once all debris and weeds had been removed the border was prepared for planting. A layer of organic matter, leaf mould, was added to the soil, forked through to mix it in, levelled and then given the 'treading' treatment to remove any air pockets that were created from the forking through, the area was then given a final levelling.

Just Started Planting

Yesterday the wallflowers were brought over from the cold frames, placed out and the planting started. 

Planting 406 Wallflowers

Today the planting continued, a mix of wallflower 'Sunset Yellow' and 'Sunset Orange', 406 in total along with 200 tulip bulbs, 100 'Westpoint' and 100 'Ballerina', yellow and orange respectively. 

200 Tulip Bulbs To Be Planted

Planting Tulips

The inspiration for this winter/spring display come from a holiday back in April by Ali to Madrid and a visit to the Royal Palace of Madrid. The formal beds in front of the palace were filled with yellow and orange large headed pansies, inter planted by narcissi (Daffodil) with yellow outer petals, orange centres. Replacing the pansies with wallflowers and narcissi with tulips it is hoped that, in May 2017, a small piece of Madrid will be found in a corner of Worcester College.

Inspiration, Madrid April 2016
Wallflowers And Tulips Planted

A Small Piece Of Madrid In Worcester College

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Brushing The Lawn

It might look a odd thing to do, brushing a lawn with a giant sized brush, but at this time of year this will be a regularly morning sight on the quad lawn. The brushing of the lawn at this time of year is to remove the heavy dews that settle on it which, if left, could cause the build up of fusarium patch disease, removing the dew is a preventative measure. The spores of the fusarium fungus, Microchium Nivale, are always present within the turf and during optimal conditions, short days, cloudy skies, dewy mornings, above average daytime temperatures and no air movement (all present in a typical October day) they become very active resulting in brown patches and mould on the lawn, hence the reason for brushing the lawn to remove one of the conditions that the team can have an influence on!  

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Applying Controlled Release Fertilizer

Everris Proturf

Applying The Feritizer

The autumn lawn maintenance has begun in earnest. The large lawn in the Provost's garden has already been scarified and the quad lawn was verticut and aerated on Monday, from the blog entry 30th March 2015 'Verticutting and Aerating' here is a brief explanation of both processes used on the quad;
" The process of verticutting is less harsh than scarification, penetrating the top layer of turf removing dead grass on the surface rather than reaching deep in to the thatch layer. The aerating makes holes in the turf enabling water and air to reach the roots of the grass".
This morning Joss, using a broadcast spreader, applied a granular, controlled release fertilizer to the lawn, 'Everris Proturf', in order to promote growth, and improve the health and colour of the grass. The granules are tipped in to the hopper of the spreader and then pushed across the quad lawn to broadcast it over the grass at the appropriate application rate. Once the entire area has had fertilizer applied to it, and with no rain forecast, the portable, full/part circle impact sprinklers are set up to water the granules in. 

Fertilizer Being Broadcast From Spreader

Fertilizer On The Lawn

Watering In

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Pruning Climbing Hydrangea

Climbing Hydrangea

Sometimes shrubs need more than a light prune in order to keep them under control. One such shrub, a climbing Hydrangea, Hydrangea petiolaris, is located on the back wall of the Gloucester House accommodation block and is about to start climbing across the roof.

Thick Growth

The hard prune may well reduce the number of flowers produced over the next few years but it can not be allowed to spread over the roof so a hard prune, and a sacrifice in flowers, has to be done. To reach the offending height the lower, thick growth had to be cut first, reducing the longer stems back by 1-2 feet to a healthy pair of leaf nodes. Once the thickest growth has been thinned the ladder could be put in to place for safe access to the top half for its removal.

Aerial Roots

Having chosen the desired height to which it had to be cut down to, the offending thick stems were cut and carefully pulled off the wall, not easy when attached by thousands of strong aerial roots that grow along the stems and attach themselves to the wall with some great force.


This hydrangea will only need a light prune after flowering over the next few years and the height will be controlled in future.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Peter's Propagating Pelargonium

Peter's Propagating Perlargonium

It's Peter's second day of his two year apprenticeship to achieve an NVQ Level 2 and Level 3 Diploma in Work-based Horticulture and he is already learning how to propagate pelargonium. Working with Ali they go out in to the gardens to select the required plants from which the cuttings need to be taken. The cutting material is removed from the parent plant by cutting above a leaf joint, placed in a bag and, once a sufficient number have been taken, they return to the greenhouse to strike the cuttings.

Striking Pelargonium

Using a sharp, sterile knife, and with a plaster on their right thumbs to protect it from the sharp knife, the stem is cut beneath a leaf joint/node (nodal cut) leaving the cutting about 2-4 inches long. The bottom leaves, just above the nodal cut, are cut off by drawing the knife down the stem towards the base and the protected thumb! The soft tip/growing point is then removed from the top of the cutting. Several cuttings are prepared, each base being dipped in hormone rooting powder and, with the aid of a dipper, are placed in to a small, shallow pot of multipurpose compost, watered in and placed in the mist unit. These cuttings will, once rooted, be repotted in to individual pots and as young plants will be planted out in to the gardens and be part of next year's summer floral display.

A Mist Unit Full Of Cuttings

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Trees And Troughs For The Resurgence 50th Anniversary Event

Tree Planters Awaiting Delivery

Between the 22nd and 25th September Worcester College is the venue for 'One Earth, One Humanity, One Future', a four day event held by The Resurgence Trust to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Resurgence magazine (Resurgence & Ecologist since 2012), the UK's longest standing green magazine. In preparation for the start of this event the garden team have been busy preparing the gardens and creating plant displays to be placed in the giant marquee and a lecture room.

Careful Manouvering

For the marquee two large containers were planted up and carefully manouvered in to place on the stage.
Container 1: Betula albosinensis 'Kansu' (Chinese Red Barked Birch) under planted with Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (hardy blue-flowered leadwort)
Container 2: 3 x Sorbus 'Joseph Rock' (Mountain Ash) under planted with Anemone japonica 'Serenade'

The Stage Is Set For 'One Earth, One Humanity, One Future'

The Tree Containers In Place On Stage

Nash Building Lecture Room

On the other side of the college gardens, in the lecture room of the Nash Building, two heavy stone troughs were planted up, wheeled over on a pallet truck and then carefully lifted in to place beneath the giant television screens.
Trough 1 and 2: Viburnum tinus 'Spirit', Hosta 'Royal Standard', Dryopteris affinis (Golden Male Fern), Anemone hybrida 'Andrea Atkinson' (Japanese Anemone) and Euonymus fortunei 'Silver Queen'.
The launch event begins tonight in the marquee with an opening speech from James Sainsbury, Chair of The Resurgence Trust and a video message from HRH The Prince of Wales and continues over the next three days .

Heavy Stone Trough Beneath The TV Stand

Thursday, 15 September 2016

A Bumper Delivery Of Bulbs

Boxes of bulbs

Ordered on the 8th July the bumper delivery of spring bulbs arrived today from Peter Nyssen Ltd, 2926 in total, all to be planted from October to December. The bulbs this year are:
  • Tulips, 14 varieties, 'Angelique', 'Ballerina', 'Belicia', 'Black Hero', 'Blue Diamond', 'Cairo', China Pink', 'Gabriella', 'Havran', 'Maureen', 'National Velvet', 'Shirley', 'West Point', 'White Marvel'
  • Narcissus, 3 varieties, 'Peeping Jenny', 'Thalia', 'Ice Follies'
  • Allium, 2 varieties, 'Christophii', 'Purple Sensation'
  • Camassia, 2 varieties, 'Cusickii', 'Leichtlinii Caerulea'
  • Fritillaria, 2 varieties, 'Persica', 'Meleagris'
  • Anemone, 1 variety, 'Blanda White Splendour'
Once the boxes had been emptied and the contents checked the bulbs were put in to a dry, cool place until planting begins. 

A Bumper Delivery Of Bulbs