A time of hope and expectation and our gardens will not disappoint you. We order hundreds, if not thousands, of bulbs each year. The first bulbs to flower are Aconites, Anemone Blanda and then Snowdrops. Most of these are located in or around the woodland walk. Next to flower are the white and yellow Daffodils, Hyacinths and then a multitude of Tulips. Every spring the College is lit with blossom. Along the Grange Road frontage are 50-year-old Prunus Umineko, which give a brief yet glorious show in early spring, and in mid-April one of the prettiest, best-kept secrets in Cambridge is “Cherry Tree Avenue”, the entrance to College along West Bye Lane. The rows of Prunus TaiHaku look fantastic in blossom, and have a delicious fragrance. To take us into the summer we have Alliums (flowering onion). You will find these randomly planted in our herbaceous borders.
This is the busiest time of the year in the garden. All the hanging baskets in Old Court should be out in flower by now and all the summer bedding completed. This is the time that the garden is at its best, and is used to its full potential by the students, staff, public and conference visitors. The lower lawn has a variety of seating areas for students and staff to relax and enjoy the garden. The College has a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere and this permeates into the garden.
Autumn is the time of year when we have a final trim of the Virginia Creeper that covers the walls of the Old Court buildings. The gardeners need assistance with this task and a ‘cherry picker’ (mobile elevated platform) is hired as this climber can sometimes reach the roof – over 12 metres high! Still going strong is our Victorian Border. This attracts a lot of comments throughout the year and can still be a feature up until the first frosts or until the winter bedding goes in. Although labour intensive, it is worthwhile, as it displays a fine collection of exotics, fragrant and tender plants such as Canna, some tall and unfamiliar Salvias, Osteospermums, Penstemons, Lippia Citriodora (a lemon scented plant), fragrant Geraniums, and also a number of unusual plants that we have to grow from seed. We always plant a lot of bulbs at this time of year, and the usual winter bedding like Polyanthus, Pansies and Wallflowers. And of course, in autumn the leaf clearing starts in earnest.
This is a time of year that most people desert the garden. By now most of the leaves should be on their way to the compost heap. Most of the suitable garden waste is composted, as this is an environmentally friendly thing to do and it is also cost effective. This is also the time for some serious pruning and to contact the tree surgeon to make the trees safe. This will also help to promote new and healthy growth on trees. This is also a time for planning next year’s strategies and weatherproofing the garden benches, as well as tidying up the sheds and greenhouses.