3 October 2023

Blank image


Welcome back to the news from the gardens.  I welcome all the new freshers, fellows and post-docs to the blog.  It is my intention to keep you all updated with the comings and goings from the department, the successes and the disappointments, the good, the bad and the ugly.


The department has been stretched as always since the last blog.  It has been a very busy growing year in general.  This is the complete opposite to one year ago when the department had witnessed a very challenging year due to the extreme hot weather and the droughts.  This last calendar year has been kinder to us.  The temperatures, although mild, have not been blisteringly hot.  We have had ample rain and warm temperatures, these themselves having added challenges.  This year, the plants and lawns (and weeds) have seen phenomenal growth.  It has been hard to keep up this year.  Hedges have required cutting more frequently, lawns being tendered twice as often, climbing plants being trimmed with regularity that we have not seen in many years.

The department itself is in a healthy position, though.  We do have our regular staff but also one full-time apprentice on the Cambridge Colleges Apprenticeship Scheme and a part-time student, retraining in horticultural from the WFGA.


It was a pleasure last week to welcome some of the apprentices to the Emmanuel College gardens for some training.  The students took part in a machinery workshop that discussed the pros, cons, and legislation within the world of horticultural machinery.  It was a chance for me and our more experienced gardeners to pass on their knowledge.  This is an essential phase of learning and hopefully the students will go on to achieve good things in the future, remembering the positive day at Emmanuel.


Apart from the regular high-quality work that my team provide for the gardens, occasionally we do have to deal with the unexpected.  After a particularly stormy weekend in September, a Monday morning greeted us with an unusual task.  In the Fellows’ Garden, there was some storm damage.  This is not unusual, but what was unusual was that the tree in question had appeared to have been struck by lightning.  The tree in question was the King’s Mulberry Tree in the Fellows’ Garden.  There were large scorch marks on a very large branch and a smell of burning.  The large branch had then fallen and broken some other branches on the way down, causing significant damage.  It took the garden team a while to clear all the debris but hopefully no further damage to the tree’s structure will occur.



Looking forward to future works in the garden, the team will carry out the following tasks:

- renovation to front court lawn;

- bulb planting in the new landscape beds;

- renovation from building works in the swimming pool;

- planting of hedging to replace dying hedging from box moth caterpillar damage.

We look forward to sharing our progress with you in future garden blogs.

Best wishes.

Brendon Sims, Head Gardener

Back to All Blog Posts