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Winter 2024

St Hugh’s Gardens in Winter by Head Gardener, Ed Reid

It was with great regret that we had to say farewell to one of our magnificent Beech trees located on Middle Lawn, which had to be felled in December. The tree has been declining for many years and the tree surgeons had carried out several crown reductions to stabilise it; and we also had yearly decay testing of the trunk by using a resistograph, generated by drilling in with a micro drill to measure the density of the wood. Due to the very low-test scores, and once we had gained consent from the tree preservation officer, we were left with no option but to take action this year, especially due to its location within the middle of the College. We have planted two replacement Beech tree’s either side of the remaining specimen, which will hopefully grow to be as magnificent as their predecessor!

Our main winter project this year has been to replace all the box hedging on the main terrace as it had been attacked by both blight and the Asian Box Moth Caterpillar. We decided to plant Yew due to its ability to cope with both drought and it being relatively disease and pest free. Thanks to a very generous donation from alumna Rose Heatley for which we are immensely grateful, we were able to procure all the hedging plants we needed.

We are grateful to have received an extra pair of hands over the summer and autumn months: Vita Oldershaw has joined the team two days a week. Vita came to the College through the WRAGS charity (Work and Retain as Gardener Scheme) – an incentive launched in 1993 to provide paid practical horticultural training for women to help find a pathway into what was once traditionally a male dominated industry. The charity now has several members working throughout the University college gardens including St Catz, Somerville, Green Templeton and Worcester.

With the arrival of February, we are all now looking forward to the weather warming up and for the first signs of the spring bulbs to emerge. One of my favourites is the Anemone coronaria which always puts a smile on my face when I walk by and see it flowering in the long grass around Kenyon.