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The Gardens in Spring and Summer 2024

St Hugh’s Gardens in Spring and Summer by Head Gardener, Ed Reid

In spring the garden team attended a fascinating wild flower course in conjunction with Loughborough University, learning about the history of wildflowers, how to manage wildflower areas and the reason for their decline. We also spent the day identifying which wildflower species we currently have at St Hugh’s. We identified several ancient woodland species that have existed in the soil since ancient times and have not been introduced by us, such as pignuts Conopodium majus and meadow saxifrage.

Sadly, wildflower meadows have almost been eradicated with over 95% lost within the last century in the UK, so we obviously want to help where we can at St Hugh’s, not by completely changing the gardens over to wildflower, but by providing corridors throughout the College for wildlife to move through.

Gardening Team studying wildflowers in the gardens
Gardening Team studying wildflowers in the gardens
Photo of a collection of pyramidal orchids Anacamptis pyramidalis 
A collection of pyramidal orchids Anacamptis pyramidalis
Photo of the pyramidal orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis 
The pyramidal orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis

Steve, our Deputy Head Gardener has taken some lovely photos of the pyramidal orchids Anacamptis pyramidalis which flower between June and July, and are spreading throughout the grounds.

The garden team was lucky enough to attend the RHS Malvern Spring Festival, Flower & Garden Show. The team was joined by St Hugh’s Custos Hortulorum, Professor Jenny Green who has held the post of Custos Hortulorum for over a decade. Sadly, Jenny will be retiring from the post this year, and I would like to thank her for all the hard work and support she has given myself and the team over the years we have worked together.

Garden Team and Jenny Green at The Malvern Flower Show
The Garden Team and Jenny Green at the Malvern Flower Show
Deputy Head Gardener, Steve Hobson, mowing the College lawns with a battery powered lawn mower.
Deputy Head Gardener, Steve Hobson, mowing the College lawns with a battery powered lawn mower.

The College has continued to invest in electric machinery to allow us to mow unimpeded during the busy exam periods or whilst conferences are taking place. Steve is pictured here with the latest battery powered lawn mower.

A few of the College’s prized Echiums have flowered this year, however there have been no record breakers unlike those in 2022 which grew to a staggering 17 feet high – but we have our fingers crossed for next year.

St Hugh’s has a long history of re-using unwanted plants and gathering cuttings from other colleges. The Echiums, which were removed from Trinity College’s herbaceous border prior to its redesign and given to St Hugh’s, are planted in MGA.

Two of the Echiums planted in MGA.
The Echiums planted in MGA.