The last couple of months have provided some stunning sights for us here at Churchill not least from the trees and shrubs.

A quick mention of some of the ones that have been wowing us in the last few weeks include the fabulous cherries — Prunus ‘Ukon’ with its lovely greeny cream blossoms and the well photographed  Prunus ‘Tai Haku’, which looked great this year. The very fulsome blossoms of the Judas trees Cercis siliquastrum over by Cowan Court have looked wonderful and the statuesque flowers of the Foxglove tree Paulownia tomentosa in South Court looked stunning.

We’ve also loved the creamy white bracts of  Cornus  ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ which really stood out near the chapel and our very intriguing graft chimaera +Laburnocytissus adamii has produced a yellow spur this year! This is very exciting news as up to know it has only produced flowers of a pinky yellow blend of the two parent plants!

Three years ago we planted a double row of pleached limes Tilia platyphyllos ‘ Rubra’ in the space between the Møller Centre and the Shepherd flats and this year they have really come into their own! Careful training from the gardeners has yielded great results for the limes in 2019! Finally, our new favourite the snowdrop tree Halesia monticola at the front of the college flowered fantastically.

Prunus ‘Tai Haku’

Cercis siliquastrum

Tilia platyphyllos ‘Rubra’

Halesia monticola

Weeds in hot water!

How do you keep the weeds at bay on a large site as we have here at Churchill? This question probably isn’t high on the list of priorities for most but for the Grounds and Gardens team, it’s a challenge that can make a huge difference to the look of the college. The issue can be tackled in a number of ways — all of which have several drawbacks! We’ve done hours and hours of repetitive hand weeding and hoeing — kinder than chemicals to the environment but not wrists and shoulders. Chemicals could be used — cheap and quick but a total disaster for the environment, pollinators and us. So what’s the answer?

Here at Churchill, we can reveal we have taken delivery of our very first hot water weed suppressing apparatus! According to the manufacturers, we are the first college/university to go down this route! You may have seen the blue water tank on the back of the trailer out and about and first impressions are positive! Water is heated to 98 °C and passed over a section of weeds effectively rendering them cooked! It’s been very successful with the ephemerals and annuals,  and predictably the perennials will need a bit more of a going over! We are really hoping it will make a big difference to the weed issue in the long term. Who knew we could get so enthused about weeds in granite chips!

Hot water weed suppression in action.

And into June…

Cricket matches are well underway after successful football and rugby seasons. The pitch is looking good and ready for action!

Ready for the first match of the season!

It’s a hectic month for planting out in the borders — dahlias, salvias, cosmos and a few other annuals! After a really slow start in the herbaceous border — about three weeks behind compared to last year when we look at some photos  —  it’s starting to catch up and is looking very full now!

The planting at the new graduate housing (36a and b) is nearly complete with just one large border to set out and a lawn to lay. It’s been a lot of hard work but is looking really great already.

Planting at the new graduate housing (36a and b).

Last year’s major planting project the Xiaotian Fu garden at 72 was officially opened at the beginning of May and we ‘ve all loved to see it come into its own this summer. The peonies and Salvia ‘Caradonna’ are looking particularly good this week! Take some time and go and have a look!

Geranium ‘Patricia’ in the foreground of the Xiaotian Fu garden.

Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’

— Grounds and Gardens team