February is a busy month in the gardens, when we seem to spend most of our time either mulching, planting or pruning.

In addition to this horticultural Spring-cleaning, we’ve also found time to install some nest boxes around the site. We’re hoping that these will soon be adopted by the influx of new birds we are seeing around following the installation of new bird feeders last month. We know that everyone would like to visit these new nest boxes, but we’re keeping their locations secret at present, so our new arrivals can settle in with a bit of peace and quiet. Please be assured that as soon as we can share more information, we will!

 

Restoring the Alpine Rockery

Alongside all the other changes happening around the site, we are also finding time for an important conservation job as we reinstate the rockery opposite Holtby and Penrose. The new border will feature alpine plants in homage to Mary Snow, an alumna with a very apt penchant for alpine plants, to whom a plaque in the Somerville College Chapel is dedicated.

The restored rockery is coming along nicely with some new plantings, all of which will feature the Somerville colours of red, black and white. Progress is not as rapid with the new rockery as it would have been in the old days, because we’re making every effort to be sustainable, sourcing our stone locally and recycling everything. All this takes time, but we feel it’s worth it!  

Coppicing at Harcourt Arboretum

Aside from the normal round of mulching, planting, pruning and so forth, we also found time earlier this month to visit Harcourt Arboretum for some coppicing. We collected several bunches of Birch coppice to use as plant supports in the gardens through the remainder of the year.

Things to look out for in the Somerville gardens this month:

The following flowers are all small, but perfectly formed emissaries of the coming warmer months. Do take a moment to stop and appreciate them if you have a chance!

  • Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ – an older species of iris, first noted in the late 1800s 
  • Scilla – originating in the eastern Mediterranean, this has the common name ‘Glory–of–the–snow’ due to its tendency to flower in high alpine zones  (above treeline)
  • Daffodil ‘tête-à-tête’ – a true narcissus as opposed to a jonquil, as can be seen by this species’ beautiful drooping head
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