Monday 22 July 2013

South Canal beds: inside and out (Week 16, Monday)

Students do not get to take any leave while they are in class term, so they go on holiday when they are out in the gardens, that is how South Canal beds and I are on our own once again. So far so good, we have got to know each other rather well and we do like each other very much!

Still feeling a bit emotional from my trip down memory lane last week, I am trying to concentrate on the stock-checking project.

So far I have printed out the list of plants that have been in the beds (dead and alive) from our living collection database. I have created a MS Excel spreadsheet to record my stock-checking and also include:
  • labels (numbers and status)
  • notes (on the plants)
Then I have taken the list of living plants and gone out into 4 of our 6 beds and around most of our individual plants in the middle area, noting down which plants I found, which ones I didn't find, whether I found plants that were not in the list and how many labels (and in which state) they all had. 

While trying to take a picture of
an awkward label, I inadvertently
hit the switch camera button on
the phone...
That has involved some crawling under Pyracantha and generally making my way through wood, both dead and alive, mostly in the rain when the weather was unsuitable for other tasks! The use of a camera phone and the internet have been essential to read unreachable labels and to help identify dubious cases respectively.

My problem so far has been where plants are not neatly separated but have grown into each other: Rosaceae are pretty vigorous, prolific self-seeders and largely suckering stock! In those cases, I may have not found the labels or I may not be sure whether there are any, swallowed up inside congested plants. 

So, the way I have proceeded is cutting back those plants that have already flowered and clearing the ground, particularly at the base of plants, of weeds, debris and dead wood and leaves, so as to find any labels that might have been covered. It works, but it is rather time consuming.

Anyway, this morning I moved on to stage 2: I took my stock-checking of one of the beds and recorded it into my spreadsheet. Then printed it out and took with me to the beds for double checking.

You can see it took a bit of watering while I was moving sprinkles and hosepipes around, but it did what it was supposed to do. I have double checked the recordings, noted any differences, and at the end of the day finalised the results in the database.

Now I am left with:
  • 3 beds to double check
  • 2 beds to check & double check (including any clearing needed)
  • finishing and double checking all the single trees in the middle area
Enough to keep me busy for the next 6 weeks, isn't it!

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