CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE GARDENS.
There are several gardens looked after by the Garden Department, most on the main college site and others at satellite sites close by. The team responsible for the upkeep and development of the gardens are Head Gardener Dave Barton who joined Corpus in 2011, Tim Bennett who has been in the department since 1985, and Max Scott who joined the team in the summer of 2013 straight from horticulture college.
The gardens range in style from rigidly formal to relaxed woodland planting. There are displays of seasonal bedding that are designed to give maximum colour, with minimal maintenance requirements whilst being able to stand up to our fantastic cornucopia of weather. The summer bedding is either sown from seed, cuttings or bought in as plug plants, then brought on in the college greenhouses. The summer bedding will be planted out toward the end of May and is expected to last until the end of September. The production of winter bedding plants commences in July. The summer bedding is removed still in its splendour, but for a reason. October still has the warmth of summer in the soil, thus allowing the winter bedding plants the luxury of milder weather to get roots into the ground. Once the winter plants are in the ground and the window boxes are in place we feed them regularly with a high potash fertiliser. Window boxes also benefit from half a dozen slow release fertiliser tablets in the soil.
One of the main features of the gardens is New Court lawn with its deckchair stripes. Many people ask the gardeners how they get the lawn in such good condition, and the most accurate answer is “time”. There is a regular regime of feeding, hand weeding, moss killing, scarifying and dew switching to keep the lawns in tip top condition (although when you view the “lawns “ gallery you’ll see that it doesn’t always go to plan, especially the scarifying!) The lawns are used for functions such as the May Ball and theatrical productions. This often results in damage, but then presents the ideal opportunity for more invasive care.
Underneath the sundial in Old Court is a Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans. The original label is still on the plant, and it tells us that it was planted in 1966. Back then it was known as Bignonia radicans. The name has changed but it still provides bright orange summer trumpets.
Up against the shady dining hall wall is the climbing Hydrangea peteolaris, bright acid green leaves in the spring, followed by frothy white dinner plate flowers, then the leaves turn to a soft butter yellow before falling to the ground.
Dotted around Old Court are half barrels. Some are full of seasonal bedding plants, and some contain Rhododendrons and Camellias that are none too keen on our alkaline soil
THE BURSAR’S GARDEN
The star of the garden is the gnarled old Mulberry tree. Its unremarkable flowers are followed by the crimson purple fruit, filled with a stubbornly staining juice. At the roots of the tree there are burrows into the ground where mice have made their dry, warm homes. Their summer foraging made easy.
At the time of writing there are plans to develop this garden. You might like to come back to the galleries to see what changes have been made.
At the time of writing replanting of the court is in the pipeline. The plan is to soften the appearance of the court and provide year round interest. Again, you may wish to revisit the galleries to see what changes have happened.
Another Mulberry resides in this garden. The one in the Bursar’s garden is surrounded by Cyclamen, the one in the Master’s garden floats in a sea of crocus. In the raised bed behind the Mulberry are an array of Hellebores in plain white, plum purple, creamy yellow and Dalmatian spotted. There are many spring bulbs in this area making this spot a spectacle in February/March. They are backed by the fiery stems of the dogwood Cornus midwinter fire.
Standard Iceberg roses flower all summer long above a mixture of perennials.
Towards the lodge ornamental grasses sway gently in the breeze whilst graceful Verbena bonariensis explodes upwards, attracting hover flies and bees.
A stately Magnolia grandiflora provides huge white goblet flowers, irrisistable to pollen beetles.
The team also look after the gardens in St Benet’s’ church.