Thursday, 19 November 2015

Wrapping Banana Plants During The Tail End Of Storm Barney

The tail end of Storm Barney did its best to hinder the team as they wrapped up the banana plants in preparation for the forecast freezing temperatures due this weekend.

The first layer of protection is from their large leaves as they are folded down and tied around the trunk.

Horticultural fleece is then wrapped around the leaf covered trunk and tied in place with string. However, with the tail end of Storm Barney still blowing strong gusts across the gardens, the fleece is hard to control and manoeuvre around the banana plants. 

Eventually, after a number of unsuccessful attempts by Storm Barney to blow the fleece out of the gardener's hands, all the banana plants are wrapped and ready for the cold weather to arrive. Tomorrow a thick mulch will be added around the base of the plants to protect their roots. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Blooms Are Fading And The Foliage Is Dying Back

Herbaceous Border (L) Before

On the herbaceous border the blooms are fading and the foliage is dying back signalling that it is time to remove all the annuals and cut the perennials back. 

Herbaceous Border (R) Before

Birch Basket Support

Before the border can be cut back all the wooden supports that were made seven months ago, see blog entry 30th April 'Birch Plant Supports', need to be removed. The birch baskets and hazel stakes  are taken to the chipper pile for chipping and the bamboo canes to the wood store for future use. 

Off To The Chipper And Wood Store

Cutting Down and Raking

Yesterday all the supports were removed so the cut down and tidy up could begin first thing this morning. Working together, all the team were involved cutting down the perennials with hedge cutters, raking off the debris and blowing off the leaves from the border, loading the debris and leaves in to the trailer and transporting it all to the compost heap. 

Cutting Down

Blowing Off The Leaves

Debris and Leaves

Compost Heap

Herbaceous Border (L) After
Tomorrow some of perennial plants will lifted, split and re-planted or moved to other areas of the border as well as a further 200 tulip bulbs being planted.(A mix of 50 'Black Hero', 50 Black Parrot and 100 Shirley).  Next week the border will be mulched with leaf mould.

Herbaceous Border (R) After

Friday, 13 November 2015

Planting Wildflower Plugs Plants

Wildflower Plug Plants
The 12 trays of wildflower plug plants arrived from the growers ( two weeks ago and have been in the cold frames waiting to be planted. The 1200 British native plants that were planted today consist of:
Primula veris (Cowslip), Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell), Leuncanthemum vulgare (Oxeye Daisy), Lychnis flos-cuculi (Ragged Robin), Geranium pratense (Meadow Cranesbill), Knautia arvensis (Field Scabious), Ranunculus acris (Meadow Buttercup). 

Using a stainless steel, long handled plug planter, Simon pushes the cutting edge in to the grass then pulls it back out to make a hole, the plug of grass and soil remains inside the planter. 

As he pushes the planter back in to the grass the first plug is pushed out and replaced with the new plug. He repeats this until he has made 1200 holes in the grass and a wheelbarrow full of plugs.

The plug plant is put in to the hole and the soil gently firmed around the neck of the plant to secure it in place.

The team spent the morning working in the Provost's garden planting the plugs, at times, in very wet conditions. Now they have to wait until the summer to see the results.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Five Oak Containers All In A Row

Border At The Bottom Of The Quad (October)

With October and November being unseasonably warm this year the summer bedding displays have been left in the borders and containers longer than in previous years. Last week the display in the border at the bottom of the quad was ripped out and prepared for the planting of the Wallflowers. 

Planted Up With Wallflower 'Treasure Primrose'

Yesterday 230 Wallflower 'Treasure Primrose' were planted. This is the first time the 'Treasure' variety of Wallflower has been used in the college gardens, chosen for its long flowering period autumn, winter and spring.

Summer Display

Today the team turned their attention to changing the display in the containers of the Besse Building courtyard (The Provost's Yard).

Clearing Out Display

All the plants were carefully dug out, the salvia and some of the Anisodontea were taken to the greenhouse and re-potted in to individual pots, the rest of the plants taken to the compost heap.

On The Move

Before the containers were planted up with the winter display they were moved to their new positions, from the side of the courtyard in to the centre in a line rather than a central grouping, five oak containers all in a row.

Re-Planting For Winter

The new planting for this winter is as follows:
Small containers x 2, Phormium 'Bronze Baby', Skimmia japonica 'Foremanii' (syn. Veitchii) (Female), Pansy Cool Wave 'Berries N Cream Mixed'.
Medium containers x 2, Laurus nobilis (Bay), Phormium cookianum 'Tricolor', Pansy Cool Wave 'Berries N Cream Mixed'.
Large container x 1, Laurus nobilis (Bay), Viburnum tinus, Hedera algeriensis 'Gloire De Marengo' (Ivy).

Winter Dispay

Friday, 6 November 2015

A Week Of Heavy Leaf Fall

This week the team have been focused on clearing up the daily leaf fall, as the saying goes 'It's like painting the forth bridge', as soon as they have finished doing it they have to start all over again!

Before the clearance on the Nuffield Lawn can begin, using a leaf blower, the leaves are blown away from the base of the tree trunks, from any large roots that protrude through the grass and from the edge of the tree circles. The leaves are are also blown from the path on to the lawn.  

With all the blowing finished the ride-on Iseki mower is used to clear the lawn. The high speed spinning of the blades within the cutting deck creates a powerful suction, hoovering and cutting up the leaves as it passes over them. 

Over on The Broadwalk it is a more manual process, leaf rakes and leaf grabbers

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Taste Of Worcester

The First Bottles

The apple and pears for juicing were picked from the orchard two weeks ago, 43 trays, just shy of a tonne of fruit taken to Waterperry Gardens for pressing. This harvest has resulted in 700 bottles of 'Worcester College Oxford Apple & Pear Juice' being produced, all of which need to be labelled. Two labels are required on each bottle which means rather a lot of labelling!


The Front Label

A Duck On The Back

A Labelled Bottle

The Demonstration Team

This afternoon the team held an event in the cloisters to promote the orchard, its fruit and the bottled juice. On show, along with the bottles for sale, were named varieties of apple and pears from the orchard and a pressing demonstration with free samples of the resultant juice from the press. 

Bottles Of Juice And Fruit

The Hopper

On a much smaller scale than Waterperry a manual press was used to make juice. First the fruit had to be chopped in to pieces and placed in the hopper. As the handle below the hopper was turned the fruit passed through the rotating metal teeth crushing it in to very small pieces. The pieces, known as 'Pomace', fell in to the bucket below and was then tipped in to the press. Wooden plates were placed on top and the handle turned forcing the plates down, squeezing the juice out in to the sterilised bucket below. This juice was then poured in to a jug and served for tasting. By the end of the demonstration and tasting session 151 bottles had been sold, a great first day of sale and a true taste of Worcester. 

The Press