Virginia Barton

Honorary OUS Gardener’s Notes, August-November 1986


Entries in the Oxford Union Society Garden Journal


28 August 1986
Last weekend was the wettest Bank Holiday weekend for 20 years! It certainly felt like it – poor roses rotting on their stems.

At last the huge pile of rubbish left by the gate was moved (2 skips) and Brenda arranged that rubbish should be stored behind the Old Library where it always used to be stored.

Chris, Andrew and Sian removed the lilac tree (old and nearly flowerless) in the process of removing one branch – apparently it “fell” down. A good thing as more light can get on my hedge when it comes.

Spoke to Andrew at West’s today and I should have the laurels within a fortnight. Jeremy’s vast bulb order is going to arrive any minute now – I can feel it.

We now have a large scrubby piece of land (can hardly call it grass) in front of the Steward’s House. It looks heaps better but not yet good. Would like to put 2 small trees there – but if they have a Ball (and they promised me they wouldn’t but I don’t believe them) the entrance tent will have to be there.

Good dark purple clematis out on Steward’s house wall, intertwined with useless grape vine – which I can’t cut back till they mend vandalized windows in Steward’s House. The shrub rose there (Contesse Marie de Murinois) is doing well so maybe I’ll transplant 2 more.

Asters have done well. Bought 6 white heathers from open market yesterday and put them in Jackson bed. Also moved more pachysandra there. Six miniscule green holly seedlings also transplanted there – eventually they might make a tiny hedge!

Terry Bull walked round with me yesterday and has more plants from Bryan’s garden lined up. Am longing to do a conifer bed – possibly south side of Chamber?

Reminded Douglas Henchley about railings yesterday – going through Planning Permission he said.


Garden 3


4 September 1986
David Gillett, Tree Conservationist from OCC, came this week. He had Dr. Halls’ report and was relieved to find we didn’t actually want to do all that Dr. H. recommended, i.e. no felling.

Anxious to maintain security aspect from St. Michael Street so I explained about railings. Then he gave us virtually carte blanche. So wrote off to the tree surgeons he suggested, Messrs. Birkett & Wilder, for estimates.

Dug out indeterminate bush in PH bed and will make a hedge out of it as there are many rooted shoots. Bryan Wilson came back from Australia today and was pleasantly impressed!

Completely finished going over big bed and bulge – noted some things will need moving – olearia and spring honeysuckle, and albertas badly need support.

Very excited about the trees! Mr. G. stayed for one hour mainly gossiping about his halitosis, his dyslexic son and his Tree Society which I promised to join!

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4 November 1986
An enormous blister on my hand testifies to the 216 assorted bulbs I planted today – took 3 hours.  8 dozen Queen of the Night (black) tulips and 8 dozen Triumphator (white) tulips planted in Crescent and Bar beds, large bed in front of the New Library and the odd ones at either end of the other formal bed.

4 dozen Orthinogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem) in Jackson bed, 2 dozen Narcissus Triandrus Thalia (white) in Crescent bed, and 4 dozen fritillaria prelearis (mixed) behind the laurel hedge. God willing they’ll make a stupendous show in the Spring!

Kind present from Jeremy Catto, cost £40.50. The colchicine he gave came up well under the magnolia but not a sign of the white ones – hopefully next year.

Awful lot of leaves to clear, did a sack full, too tired to do more! Lots of chaps stopped to chat.

Just hope I’ve planted the autumnalis deep enough – it has buds on it, no sign of cyclamen underneath. One potentilla looking ill – someone trod on it. Others OK.

Lovely bright cold day and lovely to be in the garden again after visit to Germany. Pulled out asters, lavateria and some dahlias. Dead-headed roses; still quite a few flowers.







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