Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Dalmatians With Plum Coloured Spots!

A Tray Of Foxgloves Grown From Seed

The Dalmatians in this blog entry are not of the canine variety but plants, Foxgloves, Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian Mixed'. Eleven months ago several different packets of seed were sown including this variety of foxglove, see blog entry for the 15th July 2016 'Eleven Half Trays And Six Shallow Pots'.

A Young Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian Mixed'

Having spent several months in the greenhouse and cold frames the young Dalmatians were planted out in to the Provost's lodging borders where they have continued to grow.

Rose 'Tuscany Superb' And Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian Mixed'

However it was not until this month, with the production of their tall flower spike, that they have shown just how perfect these Dalmatians actually are. Flowering next to the rose 'Tuscany Superb', the fragrant flowers of this rose are a dark crimson purple in colour, and compliment the plum coloured markings in the pure white flowers of the foxglove, this wonderful Dalmatian has plum coloured spots!
A Dalmatian With Plum Coloured Spots!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Agapanthus And Nerine

Agapanthus And Nerine Placed Out For Planting

The border in front of the Nuffield Building went through a transformation last month, see blog entry 16th May 'From Lavender To Bearded Iris'. However, the iris flower in May and early June, so what plant or plants could the team put in to the border to extend the flowering period and would also flourish in well drained, slightly dry soil, a sheltered position and in full sun? (The bearded iris love having their rhizomes partially exposed and baked in the summer sun!)    


The New Mixed Border (Left)

The plants chosen to accompany the iris are Agapanthus (African Lily), flowering June to September, and Nerine (Nerine Lily), flowering September to October. The two varieties of agapanthus, 'Navy Blue' and 'Torbay', have tall stems with deep blue and mid blue flowers respectively, and the four varieties of Nerine bowdenii are 'Marjorie', 'Alba', 'Isabel' and 'Stephanie', on erect stems have pink, white, magenta and cream with a rose tint respectively.
The border, with its mixed colour palette and different flowering times, should now provide interest from May to October. However, following the removal of the old lavender, the gardening team are aware of the loss of this high in nectar plant for the pollinating insects but have, in recent years, planted other areas of lavender for them in the gardens, see blog entry for the 25th June 2015 'Lavender In The Sainsbury Building Planters'.   

Agapanthus 'Torbay'

Monday, 5 June 2017

Changing The Bedding Displays For The Summer

Faded Display Of Wallflowers And Tulips In The Corner

The wallflowers and tulips in the corner border and the border at the far end of the quad are past their best indicating to the gardeners that it is that time of year again, time to change the bedding displays. 

Digging Out The Wallflowers

Two weeks ago the change began. In both of the borders the wallflowers were dug out and taken to the compost pile. The tulips were then dug out with their foliage attached and placed in to trays for drying out, they may be used in the college displays next year.

Porous Hose Laying

Once all the plant and leaf debris had been removed, the borders were forked through and levelled in preparation for planting. Due to the lack of rain so far this year, and with the real possibility of a dry summer, new porous pipes were laid to aid watering in the coming months.

Planted With The Summer Display

The Border In The Corner

With the pipes laid and clipped in to place the first of the plants for this year's summer displays were brought over from the greenhouse and planted out, the remaining plants have been planted over the last few weeks, the last of which were planted today.

In the corner border the plants this year are: (Grown from seed) Nicotiana langsdorffii; Cosmos 'Pied Piper Red'; Verbena rigida; Zinnia elegans 'Envy'; Nicotiana alata 'Lime Green'; Nicotiana x Multabilis 'Green'; Cosmos 'Double Click Rose Bonbon'; Cosmos bippinatus 'Rubenza'; Cosmos bippinatus 'Cupcakes'; Antirrhinum majus nanum 'Bronze Dragon'; Salvia fabrinacea 'Victoria'; Zinnia elegans 'Lilliput Purple'; Zinnia elegans 'Purple Prince'; Cosmos 'Psyche White'; Amaranthus tricolor 'Red Army' and Cornflower 'Black Ball'. 
Also planted are: (Plug plants from Ball Colegrave) Ornamental Millet F1 'Purple Majesty'. (Grown from cuttings) Tibouchina urvilleana, the Glory Flower, and Cyphomandra corymbiflora, the hardy tamarillo tree.

Border At The Far End Of The Quad

Faded Wallflowers

Digging Out The Wallflowers And Tulips

Planting Out The Summer Display Plants

In the border at the far end of the quad the plants this year are: (Grown from seed) Antirrhinum majus 'Liberty Lavender'; Lavatera trimestris 'Loveliness Mixed'; Lavatera trimestris 'Twins Hot Pink'; Crepis rubra; Cosmos bipinnatus 'Gazebo Mixed'; Antirrhinum majus 'Lipstick Silver'; Cleome spinosa 'Violet Queen'; Salpiglossis sinuata 'Black Trumpets'; Nicotiana x hybrida 'Whispers Mixed', Antirrhinum majus 'Lucky Lips' Nicotiana mutabilis, Zaluzianskya carpensis 'Midnight Candy' and Ammi visnaga.
Also planted: (Grown from cuttings) Pelargonium  'Angel Eyes Randy,  Pelargonium'Clorinda', Plectranthus argentatus 'Silver Shield', Salvia 'Penny's Smile', Diascia personata.
The structure is provided by the permenant planting, the perennials, shrubs and grass: Hemerocallis 'Catherine Woodbery'; Artemisia 'Powis Castle'; Zantedeschia aethiopica 'Crowborough'; Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis'; Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'; Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky'; Alchemilla mollis; Kirengeshoma palmata; Staphylea colchica (Bladdernut); Indigofera gerardiana and Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'.

Planted With The Young Plants

Border At The Far End Of The Quad

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

A Bad Year For The College Waterfowl

The euphoria that surrounded the long awaited arrival of cygnets on the college lake has been short lived. Seven cygnets were first seen last weekend, 20th -21st, but their numbers quickly reduced to just four by Thursday the 25th. These four looked healthy and were growing quickly but, alas, the whole family have now disappeared from the lake, where to is unknown. 
This year has been a bad year for the waterfowl that live and breed on the lake following  the removal of the reed bed during dredging. The loss of this protective habitat used by many species as a nursery and safe area to raise their young, appears to have had a dramatic effect on their nesting, breeding and the successful rearing of their young.
For the last five years the swans have built their nest in the reeds but now had to make their nest on the island. The island belongs to the Canada geese pair who, for the last two years, have successfully hatched their eggs and reared their goslings from this safe area, but, as the swans moved in it put them in direct competition. The male swan, the cob, protected his female, the pen, as she incubated their eggs by chasing off the pair of geese, destroying their nest and the clutch of eggs, refusing to let them back to their nest for three weeks. (Video clip below shows the male swan chasing the geese and sitting on their nest, the 3 goose eggs can be seen laying on the edge of the island). Although the geese did manage to get back on their nest it was too late for the remaining eggs. 
The Moorhen also relied heavily on the protection of the reeds, building their nests amongst the many stems with successful hatching and raising of their young over the last few years, no nests were made on the lake this year and the adults have left.
The reed warbler have also not been seen or heard this year, (nesting reed warblers could eventually mean cuckoo at Worcester who love to lay their egg in the host's nest).
It is hoped that the reeds will grow back over the next few years and the safe habitat returned.


April 2016 Swans In The Reed Bed

The Empty Reed Bed 2017

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Cygnets On The Lake

Four Cygnets Following Dad

It's happened, the swans have cygnets! Seven were spotted on the lake at the weekend, Sunday 21st May, and although their numbers have reduced to just four their arrival has created great excitement amongst the college community. Since the spring of 2012 the lives of the swans has been documented on this blog, here are the links to their story:

18th April 2017 'Nesting Birds'.
3rd January 2017 'The Swans Have Been Making Headlines In The Local Newpaper'.
26th August 2016 'A Tragic End For The Pair Of Mute Swans'. (This entry has the links for their story between March 2012 and August 2016).

Staying Close To Dad

 On The Island

On Mum's Back

Wanting A Ride

On Dad's Back

Two Cygnets On Dad's Back

Three Of The Four Cygnets

Friday, 19 May 2017

Wisteria Old And New

Wisteria floribunda Far End Of The Quad (After pruning photo 30th January 2017)

The many wisteria in the gardens have been putting on a beautiful floral display over the last four weeks, their amazing racemes with their delicate fragrance have been gracefully adorning the railings and walls of the college, a sight to behold. Pruned throughout January, see blog entry 30th January 2017 'January, The Month For Winter Pruning', all the hard work by the gardening team has really paid off.

Wisteria floribunda Far End Of The Quad In Flower 15th January 2017

Wisteria floribunda Far End Of Quad and Quad Lawn (View From The Terrace)

Wisteria floribunda Far End Of Quad (View From On The Quad Lawn)

Wisteria floribunda Far End Of Quad (View From The Provost's Rose Garden)

Wisteria floribunda 'Black Dragon' On The Top Terrace (see blog entry for 30th January 2017 for the after pruning photo)

Wisteria floribunda Over The Lower Archway (see blog entry for 30th January 2017 for the after pruning photo)

Provost's Wisteria floribunda (see blog entry for 30th January 2017 for the after pruning photo)

Wisteria sinensis (Back Of The Cottages, 24th April 2017)

Introduced to England in the 19th Century, it is unknown when the old, mature specimens in the college gardens providing this wonderful display were actually planted, but who ever planted them, thank you. With gratitude to the gardening team of old for their vision, the current team have continued to plant new varieties of wisteria over the last few years, hopefully to be enjoyed by the staff, fellows, students, visitors and future generations to the college over the next 100 years.

Wisteria brachybotrys 'Murasaki Kapitan'

The old, mature specimens in the gardens are:
  •  Wisteria floribunda (Japanese Wisteria), its long racemes of flowers appear at the same time as the leaves and its stems twine clockwise.
  •  Wisteria sinensis (Chinese Wisteria), its short racemes of flowers appear before the leaves and its stems twine anticlockwise.
The five new wisteria are:
  •  Wisteria brachybotrys 'Murasaki Kapitan', short racemes of fragrant deep violet flowers (Silky Wisteria from Japan with silky hairs on the leaves)
  • Wisteria brachybotrys 'Showa-Beni', short racemes of strong pink flowers (Silky Wisteria from Japan with silky hairs on the leaves).
  •  Wisteria floribunda 'Schiro Kapitan Fuji', short racemes of pure white flowers
  •  Wisteria floribunda x sinensis 'Burford', long racemes of lilac blue and purple flowers
  •  Wisteria floribunda 'Shiro-noda', long racemes of  white flowers
These new plants will be trained against the walls and railings as there ancient cousins were and, in time, will add to the already spectacular display. 

Wisteria brachybotrys 'Showa-Beni'

Wisteria floribunda 'Schiro Kapitan Fuji'
Wisteria floribunda 'Burford'

Wisteria floribunda 'Shiro-noda'

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

From Lavender To Bearded Iris

Nuffield Border (Left)

Nuffield Border (Right)

The lavender in the borders in front of the Nuffield Builing have been looking rather scruffy for some time despite the best efforts of the team to keep them looking a neat and tidy hedge. Now very woody and brittle the decision has been made to remove it and replace it with something completely different, Bearded Iris, Agapanthus and Nerine.

Woody And Brittle Lavender

Removing The Lavender
The work to change the border started today with the removal of the lavender and the weed suppressing membrane. The top dressing of gravel was dug in to the soil, then raked level ready for planting as the lavender was taken to the chipper for chipping.

Weed Suppressing Membrane And Gravel

Trailer Of Lavender

The Iris Swathe Through The Gravel

The iris, given to the college by the Oxford Botanic garden last year, see blog entry for the 21st July 2016 'Washing Bearded Iris', were placed out in a swathe along the gravel and then planted with the rhizome above ground and facing south as much as possible, they love to feel the heat of the sun. The Agapanthus and Nerine will be planted in the next few week.

Planting The Iris

South Facing Rhizome

The New Iris Border

Bearded Iris 'Wabash' In Flower