30 April 2024

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As I write this latest edition of my blog, the sun is shining and there is not a cloud in the sky. This feels like a welcome relief from the months and months of grey, wet weather that the Garden Department has had to endure. Reports say that there has not been a full dry week since September 2023. I can quite believe this. It has been the wettest period in my 35 years plus career. Let’s hope for a better late spring and summer.

The Garden Department has been extremely busy this year, more than ever. We have been trying to juggle several projects and still maintain the beautiful grounds that we are blessed to work in.

One of the largest projects that we are undertaking is the building of the new College Community Garden. These are being built at the rear gardens of Park Terrace, the idea being that this will become a non-hierarchical space to build a community of gardeners. The long-standing health benefits are widely reported and should help those that are wishing to undertake a gentle pastime to include growing vegetables and cut flowers.

The gardens will be available, within time, to the Emmanuel community, whether students, staff or Research Fellows staying with us. There will be a selection of raised beds along with composting solutions to help with food waste.

It is unfortunate that we must delay the building of this garden while the quiet period is on, along with the exams. We hope to have a soft launch towards the end of May, when some of the work will be complete. We will continue to build over the summer and should be up and running fully at the start of the new academic year.

We have also marked out two tennis courts on the Paddock. This sees the return of tennis to the Paddock after a break of at least four years due to building works. I have put only two courts up, specifically with the intention of an area to play a little light social tennis. They are to be used as a facility to relieve such pressures of exam stress and encourage students to get out of their rooms and take a short break. If serious tennis is required, then we have some fantastic facilities at the college sports ground on Wilberforce Road. Tennis bookings will soon be available to book via the college CASC booking system.

The rest of the gardens are really starting to come alive. The vegetation around the pond is growing fast, the mini meadows at the front gardens of Park Terrace are thriving, the spring meadows on the Paddock have been magnificent and the lawns are looking lush and green. Warmer weather is forecast this week so please get out and enjoy the gardens whenever you can.

We have been busy in the greenhouse growing plenty of seeds to be planted out later into the borders. The window boxes in Front Court will return in May too.

Kind regards.

Brendon Sims, Head Gardener

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