Thursday, 14 September 2017

A Visit To Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens


 Entrance Planting

Last month the gardening team from Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens (CWP&G) came to the college for a tour around the college gardens lead by Simon and today the college gardens and grounds team were treated to a tour of their gardens by their head gardener, Tim. Situated 20 miles west of Oxford, the whole team made the short trip over to Burford and spent a wonderful morning exploring the grounds, marvelling at the planting, and occasionally having their heads turned by the animals in their enclosures, meerkats and penguins are hard to resist!

Tropical Entrance Planting

Container Display

Tim very generously gave up three hours of his day to take the team around the gardens, giving a very detailed tour of the borders and the many different planting styles required in and around the animal enclosures. The superlative planting, sublime use of colour, texture and form, the attention to detail and hard work was acknowledged and appreciated by all the team, truly inspirational. Thank you to Jan (CWP&G) and Simon for organising these memorable tours. 


Desert Planting

Humboldt Penguins

Slender Tailed Meerkats

Tropical Island Bed

Seat With A Tropical View

Hot and Tropical

Prairie Dogs

Ring-Tailed Lemur

Red Panda

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Planting Water Lily


A Delivery Of 11 Water Lily

Getting The Waders On

Waders On

With the new waders on Joss and Ali are ready to go in the water to plant the first of the 11 water lilies that were delivered earlier today from Anglo Aquatic Plant. The three different varieties of water lily (Nymphaea) have been ordered specifically for the depth of each body of water they are to be planted in, the varieties are:

Nymphaea 'Marliacea Rosea', large pale pink blooms,
Nymphaea 'Joey Tomocik', deep lemon blooms,
Nymphaea 'Albatross', brilliant white flowers

In The Water

Passing The Lily

The first of the water lilies to be planted were the six Nymphaea 'Marliacea Rosea', their new home, the two shallow ponds by the Sainsbury /Nash building weir. Recently refreshed, see blog entry of the 10th August. 'Gravel Lining The Weir Pools', each of the lilies were carefully lowered in to the water, submerging them beneath the water and down on to two bricks that had been placed on the new gravel floor of the pools.   

Carrying The Slab

Dropping The Slab

Moving The Water Lily

Once these lilies had been put in place the team moved round to the two deeper pools in front of the new Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre (SNSC). Simon took over from Ali and, with the waders on, joined Joss in the first of the pools. This time instead of bricks to support the lilies, due to the size of the baskets, slabs were used, carefully dropping them in to the water to sit beneath and support them. Three Nymphaea 'Joey Tomocik' were gently lowered in to the water of the first pool followed by three Nymphaea 'Albatross' in to the second. In both locations the lilies have been planted away from the rippling water created by the pump and the flowing waters of the weirs, water lilies prefer still water, in these conditions they should spread between 60-100cm and start to flower between June and September of next year.


Waiting For The Water Lily


Manoeuvring The Water Lily In To Place

Another Water Lily

1,2,3 Drop!

Waist High Water

Last Of The Water Lily In, Nymphaea 'Albatross'

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Cloud Pruning Lavender


One of The Lavender Planters

Two and a half years ago young lavender plants were planted in to the Sainsbury building planters, see blog entry 11th February 2015 '3 Planters, 69 Lavender Plants and A Tonne Of Gravel'. These plants have matured very well in this time and today it is time for their annual prune/trim.

Cloud Pruned Lavender


Most of the hedges in the gardens are trimmed to a straight edge, apart from the many box balls, so the lavender has joined the balls with a soft curved edge and an attempt at cloud pruning. Using the lighter, battery powered hedge trimmer, the sharp blade is carefully moved through the lavender cutting off the faded flower stems. Once the stems have been cut and removed, a further, closer cut is made to create the cloud shapes. Each plant is trimmed to a slightly different width and height creating balls to resemble clouds.

View Of The New SNSC

Lavender Clouds Overlooking The Lake

View From Above The Clouds!

Friday, 1 September 2017

Meeting Mr Kingfisher



Perch (Light) And Pool

SNSC Glass Front Doors And Windows

A flash of bright blue, a Kingfisher flies off its waterside perch in front of the new Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre (SNSC), then a thud as it hits the huge glass front doors!


This happened in front of Ali who is now running towards the small bird that is now lying motionless on the floor. Picking it up carefully it starts to move and after a few minutes it sits up on her hand, clearly stunned and shaken from its high speed collision with the door, it sits recovering.

Sitting In Ali's Hand

After 10-15 minutes the Kingfisher flies off up in to the canopy of one of the recently planted River Birch where it remains for a short while.

Sitting In The River Birch

With a watering can Ali waters the display pot, the reason for being down by the SNSC and, as she walks away, sees the Kingfisher fly from the tree straight in to a window of the same building.

It Happened Again!

Running back to the building Ali picks up the Kingfisher again and, unbelievably, it starts to move, turning its head from side to side, it sits for a further 10 minutes, stunned and, quite possibly, in complete shock! Once the bird starts to move and flex its wings, Ali takes it back to the lake and releases it, it flies off. What an amazing experience that Ali will never forget, nice to meet you Mr. Kingfisher.

Mr Kingfisher (Male, all black beak)

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Potting On Wallflower Plug Plants


Plug Plants In A Box

Five weeks ago seeds were being sown for plants that will be part of the coming winter's display, yesterday the plug plants that will join them arrived.

Three Trays Of Plug Plants

Three trays, 230 wallflowers plugs in each, need potting on in to individual pots, the varieties are:

Wallflower 'Sugar Rush Purple Bicolour' (1 tray)
Wallflower 'Sunset Bronze' (2 trays)

Pushing Out The Plugs

To prevent any mix up with the colours the trays were worked on one at a time. Using a small stick the plugs were gently pushed out of their cells and planted individually in to small pots of multipurpose compost. The pots were placed in to carry containers and, once the contents of the plug trays had all been potted up, were taken to the cold frames. The plants will remain in the frames until October when they will be planted out in to the college borders with the seed sown plants. 

Potting Up The Plug Plants

Ready To be Taken Out To The Cold Frames

Wallflower 'Sugar Rush Purple Bicolour'

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Persicaria orientalis (Kiss Me Over The Garden Gate)


Persicaria orientalis

Hanging over the giant Tetrapanex papyrifera 'Rex' leaves the flowers of Persicaria orientalis add a touch of the flamboyance to the herbaceous border. Commonly known as 'Kiss Me Over The Garden Gate' this annual Persicaria stands over 7 feet tall and is a worthy addition to the border this year. At the end of the tall arching stems are long, cerisse tassels that gently sway as the breeze blows across the border. Seeds will be collected from this unusual, and rarely seen, plant for more to be grown next year.

'Kiss Me Over The Garden Gate'


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgandy'



Eucomis has been mentioned on this blog once before, see blog entry for the 17th July 2012 'Eucomis vandermerwei', with its small, purple flower of just 6 inches in height. Out in the gardens at the moment a much larger Eucomis is in flower, Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgandy', with a flower four times the height, measuring a whopping 24 inches (2 foot) tall, it is a giant compared to the miniature flower of vandermerei! Above burgundy leaves the erect, burgundy stem is covered in delicate star shaped, purple/pink flowers, this 'Sparkling Burgandy' is worthy of its prime location at the front of the herbaceous border.