Total Page-views

Isle of Wight Green Gym - Official Blog.

Blog Archive

IoW GG links

To look at the Isle of Wight Green Gym web page (contains details of sessions etc) please use the following link :-

The link to Twitter is

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wed 10th Sept 2014 - Fort Victoria, Yarmouth.

Carrie's Photographs.

Sue's Photographs.

Once again, it was head west for our GG session this week and back to one of our old favourites, Fort Vic. After a bit of a trek through the woods we were directed to a "clearing" that had become somewhat overgrown during the summer months. This area had previously been planted with hazel saplings but they had become outgrown by numerous sycamore offshoots, brambles, bind weed etc. Team GG were soon spread out attacking the overgrowth with lopers and shears and by tea break the area was looking a whole lot better. Refreshed by a cuppa and a biscuit, we were tasked to tackle another area of overgrown woodland, clear brambles from the seaward side of the fort and to dig up a redundant BBQ post. Whoever installed that post had certainly done a good job.... we had to dig down around 2 foot before the post could be wrestled from the ground!
With the end of the summer approaching, it was decided that we should take advantage of the good weather and have a BBQ after this session. The picnic tables were soon weighed down with all sorts of yummy treats and with both the fire griddles full to bursting, everyone was soon tucking into an excellent lunch. Well done to Steve and Tony for being "chefs of the day" and big thank you to everyone who brought along the food and drink.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

This week’s find - courtesy of Geoff and Tony - is Bryony (scientific name Bryonia Alba).  Its stems climb by means of long tendrils springing from the side of the leaf stalks, and extend among trees and shrubs often to the length of several yards during the summer, dying away after ripening their fruit. They are angular and brittle, branched mostly at the base, while the somewhat vine-shaped leaves are very rough to the touch, with short, pricklelike hairs.

The flowers, which bloom in May, are small, greenish, and generally produced three or four together in small bunches springing from the axils of the leaves.  The berries, which hang about the bushes after the stem and leaves are withered, are almost the size of peas when ripe, and coloured a pale scarlet. They are filled with juice of an unpleasant foetid odour and contain three to six large seeds, greyish-yellow, mottled with black, and are unwholesome to eat.

The name of the genus, Bryonia is derived from the Greek bryo, meaning one shoot or sprout, and appears to refer to the vigorous and active growth of its annual stems.  These grow from the perennial roots, and rapidly cover other shrubs by adhering to them with their tendrils.
Historically under the name of Wild Nepit, this plant was known in the fourteenth century as an antidote to leprosy, while in Norfolk the plant is still called Mandrake.  Its fleshy root contains a milky juice, which is very nauseous and bitter to the taste and of a violently purgative and carthartic nature.  It was a favourite medicine with herbalists, and also much used by the Greeks and Romans.

Thanks to Sue for her photographs and to Carrie for her photographs and Nature Lesson.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wed 3rd Sept 2014 - Golden Hill Fort, Freshwater.

Carrie's Photographs.

Sue's Photographs.

It's the "Limestone Cowboys"..!

An Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar (found in the car park).

Although the weather was warm and summer like, this week's tasking had a certain autumnal feel about it. With summer drawing to a close, it is time to start on those pre-winter prep jobs and this week it involved repairing paths with limestone chippings, cutting back the summer growth and clearing out the ditches. Our friendly rangers had pre-dumped three piles of chippings all ready to be wheelbarrowed to the areas needing attention so it was "Shovel, Shove and Tip" for around half the team. A smaller group set about the clogged ditches with the mattocks and shovels with the remainder  using the loppers and saws to trim back anything overhanging the paths. Busy...busy....busy....!
With the school holidays finished and most GGmers back from their annual vacations, we had a very good turnout for this popular venue.
Next week's session is out at West Wight again, this time at Fort Vic. Please don't forget to bring along items for the BBQ that will be held after the work is done.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

This week’s find was the very pretty flower of the Common Kanpweed (Centaurea Nigra).  It is also known as hardheads or black knapweed, and is one of our toughest meadow plants.  An excellent source of good quality nectar, it is a real favourite of our pollinating insects as well as bees, butterflies and beetles, while the seeds provide food for many birds.  It can be identified by its slightly spherical black or brown flower head complete with its lovely purple, pink or, more rarely, white blooms.  It is found throughout the UK in meadows and other grassland habitats, as well as roadsides where wildlife is allowed to thrive, flowering from June to September.

Carrie's Nature Natter.

September sees the season turning into Autumn, and lately the mornings have definitely taken on an autumnal feel.  Mists cover low steep sided valleys, and spiders webs laden with pearly droplets can look spectacular.  Many of our plants die back to their underground roots, while deciduous trees are losing their leaves in order to protect them from winter frosts and scarce water supplies.  Animals start to put on weight for their winter hibernation, insect numbers enter a steep decline and summer breeding birds fly off to overwinter in Africa where food supplies are plentiful.

Horse chestnut trees are yielding up their seeds in the form of conkers, which fall to the ground contained in their spiky cases, while other trees such as ash, beech and sweet chestnut are also changing their colours to yellow and orange.  The hedgerows are plentiful with the ripening berries of hawthorn haws and shiny red rose hips, while sloes, blackberries and elderberries are a dark midnight black.  Acorns fall to the ground, and their seeds are spread far from the parent tree as they are collected by jays and grey squirrels, who hide them away underground as food for the forthcoming winter.  Some of these are never found again, and grow into new oak trees which bear their own fruit.

On sunny days on riverbanks and in areas of wetland, a highlight of early September are the large dragonflies.  They hunt for insects while moving with great speed and agility, darting this way and that and defending territories.  The beautiful darter dragonfly, the red common sympetrum is not so restless, while the huge hawker type dragonflies, such as the common aeshna, are always on the move and more wary.

Birds have now ceased moulting, and are dressed in their winter plumage. Family groups are often still together, and certainly in our garden we have seen families of chaffinches, greenfinches, blue and great tits, while starling numbers are the highest we have seen for some years.  Many small birds such as chiffchaffs and tits often move through the countryside helping each other to find food.  There are still many insects to be found, and by travelling together prey is disturbed from its hiding place and anything missed by one bird, will be found by another.

Many butterflies are still on the wing, but can sometimes look a bit ragged around the edges, as this is their last month as adults.  The browns and skipper species that feed on grass are still in flight, whilst caterpillars can be found in hedgerows, field edges and grasslands.  The male gatekeeper sets up its territory along hedges, where nectar bearing plants such as mint, wood sage, bramble and marjoram are very attractive. Wall butterflies can also be found basking in the sun on rocks and stones, actually flying ahead along a path settling then flying again, which makes its seem you are chasing it along.

Many thanks to Carrie and Sue for their contributions this week - Wow....what a bumper bundle of a blog for you all to read!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wed 27th Aug 2014 - Play Lane Millennium Green, Haylands.

Sue's Photographs.

Below are a couple of shots after we had finished
down by the pond.

Carrie's Photographs.

Since our last visit to the Millennium Green, back in June this year, the Trustees have been awarded a coveted "Community Green Flag Award" so congratulations to them! This time we were tasked to tackle the brambles and overgrown scrub areas from under the canopy of the trees. Maintaining a site so diverse as this one requires constant attention, especially towards the end of the growing season when everything is in need of weeding out and a good pruning.  With the workforce spread out across much of the wooded area, good progress was made at the job in hand with the cleared areas having the cuttings neatly piled-up alongside. Although the weather recently has been somewhat damp for August, it remained dry for our session and so encouraged a good turn-out go GGmers.

Photographs courtesy of Sue and Carrie.... Many thanks to both!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mon 25th Aug 2014 - Flowers Brook, (extra photographs).

The following photographs were taken by the Ventnor Enhancement Group, who we were working with last Wednesday. The covering email says they were very pleased with our efforts and that the group were planting 1,000 bluebells in the areas we have helped to clear. It should look a real picture next spring!