5 July 2023

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June has been and gone in a flash. It has been a very busy period for the Garden Department. We have had many of the college calendar events to prepare for, and in what turned out to be the hottest June on record.


The gardens are looking full and in flower at the moment, which has been a hard thing to achieve, but generally I am pleased with the results. We are a little behind on the tasks from where I would like to be at this moment in time but there is nothing we cannot sort out. We have been busy spinning many plates and have just about been able to keep them spinning.

The month saw the June Event Ball, which involved a large event tent on the front court lawn. Only 48 hours later the final of the Cupper’s Croquet was played on the Front Court lawn. This was a huge undertaking to prepare the lawns for these events and I am immensely proud of the Garden Department for making this happen.

Then we had to prepare the Front Court for Graduation - a tight turnaround but just about achieved. We achieved all this whilst pushing for the new build landscaping to be resolved. We finally got the answers we were hoping for and, with delays of around six months, we were able to commence the landscaping. The delays were beyond the control of the college but hopefully we are now making progress as we head towards our next target, which is the preparation for the 'Emma enables' event on 8th July.


In other works, around the garden, we started cutting down the spring meadows around the college. Although these meadows looked tired, the colours from the bulbs and annual wildflowers looked great this year. It is essential to leave at least six weeks after flowering to cut these meadows down but that falls in the exam period. We were happy to get them done in the end and now look forward to next spring's display. This task also clears under the plane tree in the Fellows' Garden.

Some notable highlights this year in the spring meadows included the return of the bee orchids. A beautiful sight to see, and still quite rare.


In other department news, we had Izzie Hare and Douglas Day complete their pesticide license training. Although the use of chemical spraying is something I discourage, it is still required by law to hold a license to apply. I have made a commitment to reducing all spraying within the college, but it is good to know that we will be looking to keep people safe when we do spray.


The summer college meadows in North Court continue to thrive and many insects and pollinators are seen in these areas. Biodiversity is a key agenda within the college and I am pleased we are contributing so well with our objectives. This year, with the help of students, we had sightings of hedgehogs and also built yet another insect hotel as positive achievable things to increase biodiversity.

All in all, a busy but proactive spell within the gardens. Well done, Garden Team!

Best wishes.

Brendon Sims (Head Gardener)

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