Friday, 5 December 2014

Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year

(L-R) Simon, Kieron, Ali, Ady, Graham, Danny, Callum, Joss

The team gathered for their annual Christmas photograph, hope you like them. Taken early than in previous years as this blog writer is finishing early, off to sunnier climes. The guys are still working, mulching, leafing and pruning, but this will be the last blog entry for this 'Tercentenary Year' so the team would all like to wish you a 'Merry Christmas and a Happy New year'. Thank you all for your comments, for following and reading our blog, please come back next year, 5th Of January 2015 is when it returns.
(L-R) Simon, Kieron, Ali, Graham, Ady, Danny, Callum, Joss

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Pruning The Climbing Roses

The pruning of the climbing roses has begun in earnest starting with the five roses on the cottages in the quadrangle. When pruning each rose the three 'D's are removed, the Dead, Diseased and Dying branches are cut out. The lateral shoots are reduced by two thirds to three quarters, usually to a bud facing in the direction the gardeners wish the new shoot to grow next year. Old, tired and week branches are removed, the strong new shoots are kept and tied in to fill in the gaps their removal creates.

The next of the climbing roses that will be pruned are the seven located on the top terrace along with the three Campsis and three Wisteria. More climbing roses can also be found at the back of the cottages behind the herbaceous border, all needing to be pruned.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Application Of The First Mulch

Ady, Graham and Callum began applying a mulch to the first of the many borders in the college gardens today. Starting in the Goldfish Bowl, where the herbaceous planting was cut back to ground level on the 18th November, they carefully added the mulch on to the border. This mulch is made up of the material collected last year's autumn leaf fall, herbaceous cut down and grass cuttings. Mixed regularly this material rots down into a rich, crumbly mixture that is used as a mulch, perfect for suppressing weeds, retaining moisture, improving soil structure and hiding debris left from the cut down.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Christmas Decorations

It is the last week of term so the gardeners have been decorating the plants in the cloisters and the Christmas tree in the Pump Quad. The three half standard Bay trees, lollipops, in the cloister's pots have had gold ribbon wound up the stems and 1.7 metres of battery powered, cool white, twinkle lights woven into each crown which come on as it gets dark.

The Christmas tree has been decorated with bell and chilli peppers grown by the gardeners, unlike last year when they were bought from one of the large well known supermarket chains. The chefs are preparing the other decorations, dried, thinly sliced orange pieces, which will be added to the tree on Wednesday.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Black(bird) Friday

Ali had an alternative 'Black Friday' today, a 'Blackbird Friday'! This bird was brought to her attention when it was spotted laying on the ground, wings spread out, struggling to breath, looking like it was dying. Picking it up, she noticed that the reason for this was an orange Pyracantha berry lodged in its throat, the bird was choking, unable to regurgitate it. As Ali gently massaged the bird's throat, the berry slowly moved up the from the crop so she could pull it out, unfortunately there were two more berries stuck that also needed to be removed. The bird seemed very accepting of her help and, once all offending berries had been removed, was happy to sit in a basket recovering from its ordeal. After half an hour of rest the bird was released, one lucky, greedy bird!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Pruning Of The Vines And Climbing Plants Begins

Actinidia deliciosa 'Jenny'
The pruning of the shrub roses has been completed so it is time to start the climbing plants, beginning with the vines and Kiwi fruit. The first, Actinidia deliciosa 'Jenny' (Kiwi Fruit), a vigorous growing, deciduous, climber whose lateral shoots are cut back to three or four buds beyond where the fruit was produced.

Vitis coignetiae 'Claret Cloak'
Moving on from the Kiwi fruit, the next climbers to be pruned were the ornamental vines, see blog entry 9th February 2011'Wires & Climbers' for how well these vines have grown since planting. These vines, Vitis coignetiae 'Claret Cloak' and Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea' are pruned to keep them tidy, shortening all the vigorous shoots back to the support wires.

Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea'
The last vine, the grape vine in the Pump Quad, is pruned whilst dormant, pruning back the laterals to two healthy buds. Now that the vines and Kiwi are complete the next to be pruned will be the climbing roses followed by the Wisteria, Campsis and fruit trees, plenty of pruning to keep the team busy over the coming winter months.

The Pump Quad Grape Vine

Monday, 24 November 2014

Choosing The Christmas Trees

Simon and Ali went up to Waterperry Gardens this, very cold morning to choose the four Christmas trees that will be on display at the college next month. Met by Chris Lanzack, Orchard Manager, they walked amongst the trees carefully choosing the right shape and size for the Dining Hall, Provost's Lodgings, Pump Quad and The Chapel.