Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The Swans Lose One Egg

Now Only Two Eggs

Having laid her first egg on Monday, by Friday there were three eggs. However, as Ali did her regular morning check on their progress she noticed there were now only two.

Walking back from the observation point the reason was discovered, a very large broken egg shell laying by the path. As the swan nest is surrounded by water it is unknown how it got there, although a heron had been seen near the nest yesterday.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Magnificent Magnolia

(L) Magnolia 'Iolanthe' (R) Magnolia x soulangeana

A number of new Magnolia have been planted in the gardens over the last two years, but it was the two oldest that have produced the 'wow factor', located at the exit from the path that takes you from the quad to the Nuffield lawn.

The many goblet shaped blooms are now fading fast having produced a magnificent display over the last few weeks. The warm, dry spring has allowed the flowers to go on blooming, the damage is usually caused by hard frosts, wind and rain, all of which have been of short supply this April.  

Magnolia 'Iolanthe'

Friday, 17 April 2015

Creating A New Pattern On The Quad Lawn

Simon and Joss were planning a new pattern for the quad lawn this afternoon. They worked out the half way point, long ways, and then placed canes out along this centre line point, pacing out equal distances between each cane.

Once in place Joss guided the mower aound the canes creating the first line of the pattern, removing the canes once this line was complete. Working off this first line he continued with the new pattern.

After a few hours the new design was finished, waves, not a straight line in sight. This is the first time waves have been seen on the quad lawn, just how long they stay is unknown, it may not be too long before another new pattern it cut in to the lawn!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Moving The Primrose

Primrose in the grass (moss)

One of the outside properties that the gardeners maintain has provided a large supply of Primrose, Primula vulgaris, that have grown wild through the lawn since it was renovated in 2010, see blog entry 28th September 'No 17 and Wild Flower Meadow' and 7th October 'Levelling Off'. The garden was completely cleared and returned to grass but, unknown to the gardeners, the Primrose were hidden in the soil and have multiplied over the last four and a half years. The grass has now all but disappeared, becoming a lawn of moss, so needs to be re-seeded once a moss killer has been applied and then removed by raking it out. Before this can happen all the Primrose had to be dug up and relocated in the college grounds. They are now in the orchard where they will continue to multiply, their pale yellow flowers brightening up an early spring day, a sight for all to enjoy.

2 of the 6 trugs of primrose moved to the orchard

Primrose In The Orchard

Swans (First Egg 2015)

The nest, used by the swans in previous years, has been changing in shape this week with, what looked like, new material on top. This activity was confirmed today with a sighting of the first egg and the swans working hard to build up the nest.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Unwrapping The Tree Ferns And Banana Plants

The tree fern and banana plants have been under wraps since the 22nd October protecting them from the cold of the British winter. The south of England has been basking in unseasonably high temperatures over the last week, reaching 21C today, so the gardeners took the opportunity to remove some of the wrapping.

First to be unwrapped were the 9 tree fern, Dicksonia antartica and Dicksonia fibrosa, all of which had both the hessian and horticultural fleece removed. On some of the crowns, newly emerging fronds were revealed, curled up tight waiting to unfurl.

The bananas, not as frost hardy as the ferns, had their hessian removed, leaving the fleece in place to insulate them until all risk of frost has gone, usually end of May.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Pricking Out 2015

The first of the seeds have germinated and are now showing signs of their first true leaves. The first set of leaves, seed leaves, are called cotyledons and are part of the seed, acting as a food source fuelling the seeds growth before it produces its first true leaf which will start to photosynthesise its own food.

For the last week Ali, Danny and Kieron have been spending the first few hours of the day in the greenhouse, when it is as its coolest, pricking out the many seedlings that are ready for pricking out in to their own individual pots.


The contents of each pot is carefully tapped out before each seedling is gently separated from its neighbour using a sharp object, in this case, the sharp end of the plant label.

Each seedling is handled carefully using just the seed leaves as the point of contact and not by the stem which bruises easily.

The seedling is placed in to its pot of compost which has been prepared with a planting hole sufficient for it to be lowered in to. The compost is then gently firmed around the young plant securing it in place.

The space on the benches, left behind by the removal of the cuttings, is filling up quickly and will soon be completely filled when the pricking out is completed over the next few weeks.