Drought Tolerant Planting

When selecting plants we consider the environment, and plants needing additional regular watering – other than for establishment – are not used. Our aim is to enhance habitats, to encourage year round wildlife activity and introduce adaptability to cope with any impact of the effects of global warming.

Since 2019 we have been using drought tolerant varieties of tender perennials including Rudbeckia, Dahlia and Salvia.

This year the Environment Agency declared droughts across most of the UK including the South West. The photos below, taken this summer, demonstrate how adept these drought tolerant species are to drought conditions with no watering whatsoever!

The Salvia have established here very well, are softly structural and full of colour. In the past this area would have been planted with an annual bedding scheme which can require watering during difficult phases of weather.

Drought tolerant planting at the north east corner of Hatherly Labs

Drought tolerant planting at the north east corner of Hatherly Labs

 

The Sunniest Sunflower!

All members of the Grounds Team took part in an in-house Sunflower growing competition this year.

The Sunflowers were grown from seed and were then planted out at the Grounds nursery. Their growth has been very closely monitored over the last few weeks with some of the early front runners fading away.

The competition was strongly fought with a large amount of care and attention lavished on the Sunflowers, with some team members really going the extra mile to encourage growth in some rather unusual ways (singing, playing music and dancing have been reported)!

We are delighted to announce that the winner of the prestigious Sunniest Sunflower 2022 Award, with the tallest and most floriferous Sunflower, is Elliot Smith. Congratulations Elliot!

The Sunniest Sunflower Award was created in-house from fallen timber on campus, which not only makes it sustainable, personal to the team but also economically viable as it cost nothing to create!

The winner, Elliot Smith, next to proudly accepting the Sunniest Sunflower Award

The Sunniest Sunflower Award

Blooming Lovely Wallpaper Installation!

An exciting new wallpaper installation designed and created by Bee Watson, founder of wild hive paper flowers, has been unveiled.

This spectacular wallpaper is inspired by the flora and foliage on the Streatham Campus. The flowers and leaves are all constructed from paper, photographed and then transformed into a repeated pattern.

The creative journey that led to this piece being created included workshops with students and staff and a site tour with the university’s Grounds Team to identify plants and flowering times.

The wallpaper installation is now on display in the Queens Building on Streatham Campus.

Bee Watson said:

“Abso-blooming-lutely thriled to finally reveal what I’ve been  working on for the last couple of months. Our first ever wallpaper installation! I wanted to capture the experience that people have of being greeted by the steep banks of greenery dappled with Rhododendrons, Ferns and Azaleas as they walk up through the campus in late spring / early summer.

It’s been an absolute dream of a project from start to finish. The wallpaper installation is now on display in the Queens Building on Streatham Campus; if you’re in the area go check it out, get a photo in front of it and see if you can lcacte the flowers on campus when they’re in bloom next year.”

Bee Watson proudly revealing her new wallpaper installation

 

 

Challenging times but what a transformation!

Our wonderful team of gardeners work very hard looking after and maintaining the 247 acres of diverse and beautiful grounds on Streatham Campus.

This has proved even more challenging over the last 18 months as staff were furloughed and unable to work on campus. They have spent the last few months tackling all the overgrown vegetation to bring the campus back to its glorious best.

The latest project was clearing the hidden overgrown areas by Reed Pond and the Reed Sunken Garden – what a transformation!

Area 1 – BEFORE

Area 1 – AFTER

Area 2 – BEFORE

Area 2 – AFTER

Area 3 – BEFORE

Area 3 – AFTER

 

More Wow Wildflowers!

The wildflower areas at St Luke’s Campus are looking fantastic.

New Research – big bumblebees learn locations of best flowers

Big bumblebees take time to learn the locations of the best flowers, new research shows.

Meanwhile smaller bumblebees – which have a shorter flight range and less carrying capacity – don’t pay special attention to flowers with the richest nectar.

University of Exeter scientists examined the “learning flights” which most bees perform after leaving flowers.

Honeybees are known to perform such flights – and the study shows bumblebees do the same, repeatedly looking back to memorise a flower’s location.

“It might not be widely known that pollinating insects learn and develop individual flower preferences, but in fact bumblebees are selective,” said Natalie Hempel de Ibarra, Associate Professor at Exeter’s Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour.

“On leaving a flower, they can actively decide how much effort to put into remembering its location.

Bumblebee flower

Bumblebees carry out “learning flights” after leaving flowers (credit: Natalie Hempel de Ibarra)

Bumblebees carry out “learning flights” after leaving flowers (credit: Natalie Hempel de Ibarra)

“The surprising finding of our study is that a bee’s size determines this decision making and the learning behaviour.”

In the study, captive bees visited artificial flowers containing sucrose (sugar) solution of varying concentrations.

The larger the bee, the more its learning behaviour varied depending on the richness of the sucrose solution.

Smaller bees invested the same amount of effort in learning the locations of the artificial flowers, regardless of whether sucrose concentration was high or low.

“The differences we found reflect the different roles of bees in their colonies,” said Professor Hempel de Ibarra.

“Large bumblebees can carry larger loads and explore further from the nest than smaller ones.

“Small ones with a smaller flight range and carrying capacity cannot afford to be as selective, so they accept a wider range of flowers.

“These small bees tend to be involved more with tasks inside the nest – only going out to forage if food supplies in the colony are running low.”

The study was conducted in collaboration with scientists from the University of Sussex.

The bees were observed in greenhouses at the University of Exeter’s award-winning Streatham Campus, and Professor Hempel de Ibarra thanked the university’s Grounds and Gardens team for their continued support.

The study was funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

The paper, published in the journal Current Biology, is entitled: “Small and large bumblebees invest differently when learning about flowers.”

Sustainable Practices – seed propagation and plants grown in-house

We have been busy with seed propagation this week in our Estate Services Centre Nursery.

The cuttings are soft-wood material using the techniques of nodal, heel and mallet cuttings.

This important work, of growing plants in-house and planting them on campus and by residences, means that we are reducing our carbon footprint, working within our sustainability practices and reducing costs.

  

Plant Sale – Tuesday 11th February 2020

The Grounds Team will be selling a mixture of indoor and outdoor plants from 9am to 2pm on Tuesday 11th February 2020 in Cross Keys on St Luke’s Campus.

Do come along and treat yourself to a fabulous new plant!

 

 

 

 

Christmas Plant Sale – Tuesday 17th December 2019

The Grounds Team will be selling beautiful handmade Christmas wreaths, Poinsettias and a mixture of indoor and outdoor plants in The Forum Street from 9am to 2pm on Tuesday 17th December 2019.

Please do come along; it’s a great opportunity to buy some Christmas presents, add a Christmas wreath to your festive decorations and also to treat yourself!

Rustic Christmas Wreath

Traditional Christmas Wreath

Poinsettia