Friday, 20 March 2015

Solar Eclipse 2015

For the first time this century a solar eclipse was seen across the skies of Britain and, as the eclipse started, the clouds parted across central Oxford to reveal the Moon passing between the Sun and the Earth. Here are a few photographs taken by Ali from within the college grounds: 


Eclipse reflection in the lake

Eclipse reflection

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Demonstration By Nomix Enviro

Chris Vernon, Area Manager from 'Nomix Enviro' visited the college this morning to give the team a demonstration of their Hand-held Total Droplet Control (TDC) applicators. Currently using Cooper Peglar 15 litre knapsack sprayers to apply herbicides these have become cumbersome and very heavy when spraying large areas,over long periods of time. The Nomix Frontline Compact and Frontline Classic are both lightweight, carrying a load of 750ml and 5 litres respectively. The applicators use the Nomix herbicides that do not require any mixing with water, just herbicide packs that connect directly to them eliminating any risk to the operator from mixing chemicals and protecting the environment by avoiding spillages. 

The Nomix TDC is a low volume, targeted herbicide application system that delivers a constant, uniform droplet size and spray pattern of oil-emulsion formulations that stick to the leaf, significantly reducing the risk of run off and virtually eliminating spray drift. Lots of information for the team to think about, thank you Chris for coming in to see us.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Willow Weaving A Goose Proof Fence, A Flower, Fish, Dragonfly and An Igloo

The six Scarlet Willow, Salix alba 'Chermesina', planted by the lake in April 2012, see blog entry 17th April 'The Stump Border', are pruned at this time of this year to encourage new yellow-red stems for display next winter, but what to do with the huge amount of willow prunings?

Pruned hard back the willow produces an annual growth of stems of up to 10 foot tall, so for the first time the prunings have been used to create the goose proof fence (usually made with wooden stakes and wire, see blog entry 18th March 2014 'Canada Goose Proof Fence').


To start, some of the long willow prunings, rods, were bent over and their ends pushed into the soil. (It is hoped the ends will not root in to the soil too deeply as the fence will need to be removed when the marginal planting is cut down next January). Simon, Kieron and Ali then continued weaving more willow onto this framework to create a goose proof fence to stop the geese from wandering in to the Provost's garden. Once finished a flower, fish and a dragonfly had also been created, even an igloo play den in the garden!

Weaving The Dragonfly



Goose Proof Fence

Igloo (Play Den)
Whilst creating the fence to keep the geese out the swans decided to show Kieron and Ali the defects and weaknesses in the early stages of the design. The following series of photographs show their encounter with the swans who broke through the fence and, somehow, gave them tips on how to improve and strengthen the design!

Try again Kieron, you need to make it bigger and stronger!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Pruning The Salix' Yelverton' For The Return Of Winter Colour

The four Salix 'Yelverton' were planted out in the college gardens on the 28th November 2013, see blog entry 'Salix alba ssp. vitellina Yelverton', to provide rich bronze-red stems in the winter. These colours were seen in their first winter, 2013-14, but during the last winter 2014-15, their second winter, the colour was a much weaker yellow-green.

In order for the rich red-bronze to return Simon made the rather brave decision to prune the trees heavily, removing their top growth, the crown, and shortening all the remaining stems

By the time Simon, Ali and Danny had finished pruning only the trunks remained. This heavy pruning will cause the trees to produce a mass of new growth from the top, new, young bronze-red stems for next winter.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Silver Maple Or Red Maple?

The gardener's often get asked questions by visitors about the names of plants in the gardens, most of which are answered, but today one was asked which they were unable to give the answer to. The question, the name of a tree with tiny clusters of red/yellow flowers on the branches? This question needed further investigation. A large tree with the flowers very high up but a few were found on the ground. Leaves were also found around the base of the tree giving the Genus in which to look, Maple (Acer), now which species is it? Next to the book 'Trees of North America and Europe' by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, full of photographs to refer to, Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) or Red Maple (Acer rubrum). The question has almost been answered but which of the two Maples is it? The team are still undecided, it may even mean waiting until it is in full leaf and even as far as waiting for the autumn colour. In the mean time they are waiting for the flowers to open completely in the hope that this will give them the answer sooner rather than later.

Lifting, Dividing And Planting Snowdrops

The snowdrops have provided a wonderful display this year but are now going over. The flowers are fading first so it is a good time to lift and divide large clumps and replant them, 'in the green', the best way to establish snowdrops. Large clumps were lifted from the Nelson Street path, an area by the sports field, and taken in trugs for planting in a bare area beneath the canopy of a beech tree on the Nuffield lawn.

Beneath The Beech Tree (Before)

The clumps were divided in to smaller pieces, approximately 10 bulbs in each, gently prizing them apart causing as little disturbance as possible.

Holes were then dug, the snowdrops planted in at the same depth as in their previous location, and gently firmed in. A few thousand snowdrops were planted beneath the tree, in addition to a similar amount that had been planted on Tuesday. Watered in, it is hoped that they will establish, creating a wonderful drift of white next year.

Beneath The Beech Tree (After)

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Swans Return

The swans left the college lake on the 10th February, to where is unknown, but today, exactly a month later, they have returned. They stayed on the lake after they abandoned their nest last year, see blog entry 18th June 2014 'Swans Abandon Their Nest', following the unsuccessful incubation of their eggs, unlike the previous year when they left immediately following their first attempt at incubating their eggs. Last year they started to rebuild their nest amongst the reeds on the 21st March 2014, see blog entry 'Rebuilding Last Year's Nest'. Ali will be watching them to see when the begin to rebuild this year and, hopefully, it will be third time lucky for the swans.