Located in the heart of the Cotswolds, Cheltenham College is a leading independent boarding school which dates back to 1841. Well known for its classical, military and sporting traditions, Cheltenham has approximately 700 pupils between the ages of 13 and 18 with many of whom go onto world-class universities such as Cambridge and Oxford. The College also features a prep school with pupils aged between 3 and 18.
Christian is the man responsible for maintaining the grounds at both the main site and the prep school, and was initially drawn into the world of groundsmanship through his involvement with club cricket. He went on to work in a number of deputy roles in public schools before getting his opportunity at Cheltenham College.
Christian now oversees a team of four and ensures that the sports and surrounding grounds are at a consistent quality all year round.
“As you would expect, we have cricket in the summer term and then we change into rugby which lasts pretty much up until Christmas,” he says. “After Christmas, it is mainly football and rugby sevens until Easter with hockey which is played on our artificial surfaces.”
“We overseed our winter pitches with MM60 and this is done twice a year,” he says. “Once in August so we are ready for rugby and then we apply again in the spring. We overseed with MM60 after we’ve scarified the smaller cricket squares during the renovation period – purely because it is a stronger mix and can withstand winter sport.”
As Christian says, Limagrain’s MM60 grass seed is renowned for performing incredibly well on winter pitches and produces an excellent playing surface. It is a 100% Ryegrass formula which is perfect for renovation and divot repair, has a high disease resistance, fantastic aesthetic qualities and offers extremely fast germination. MM50, is arguably a more popular choice for cricket groundsmen. This superior mix contains the perennial ryegrass cultivars, Venice, Alison and Malibu, which are renowned for providing a great sward. It features excellent shoot density along with tolerance to close mowing making it particularly suitable for cricket squares.
“I’ve been using MM mixtures throughout most of my groundsmanship career and I don’t have any reason at all to change. Both MM50 and MM60 are very strong mixtures, we’ve never had any problems with them, the recovery is very good and they withstand a lot of wear.”
Both MM50 and MM60 are boosted by the inclusion of Headstart GOLD®. Developed using the latest scientific findings and field experience, Headstart GOLD® is a natural revolutionary grass seed treatment that ensures rapid germination and is perfect for enhancing performance on grass seed coatings for sports fields, golf courses, lawns and amenity turf.
“The seed is always quick to establish – it is strong and has good rooting. They are just great products which perform well and provide great colour all year round. The mixtures are always available and are easy to get hold of which is another benefit.
“I also have a good relationship with Matt Gresty who is always on the other end of the phone if I need him. He is also quick to offer technical advice as and when it’s required.”