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Isle of Wight Green Gym - Official Blog.

Blog Archive

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wed 4th May2016 - Cockleton Meadow, Gurnard. GG # 633.

Sue's Photographs.

Pre-session briefing.

The pipe bridge.

Relocated cowslips.

Cleaning up the pond area.

Transporting the grass sods.

The finished pipe bridge.

Tea break.

"We plough the fields and scatter, the good seed on the land"

Working in the orchard.

Making bee houses.

The pond area - work continues.

Bob's Aero Photographs.

The ponds area.

Starting the wild flower area.

The orchard area.

Tea break…!

This was our second visit to this site and the Gurnard Open Spaces Project. (See this link for the first one… Wed 24th Feb 2016 - Cockleton Meadows. - Gurnard. …)We were to continue the clearance and tidy-up work we started last time and, in addition, sow lots of wild flower seeds to give the grass field a meadow look. The area surrounding the ponds needed a really good rake-up to get rid of all the debris from the previous cutting session. To assist the drainage from the field to the pond area, a deep ditch was cut and a length of plastic drainage pipe inserted. The pathway was then reinstated above the pipe. Some of the team went through to the lovely orchard area and continued to remove the bramble and weeds, giving the trees and shrubs room to grow. Obviously, great care was taken to ensure that no nesting birds were disturbed! The wild flower seed sowing team had a tough job trying to remove areas of grass turf before scattering the seed. It will be interesting to come back at a later date and see what a change it has made. Since our last visit here there has been a lot of hard work done to plant numerous saplings around the perimeter of the site - well done to volunteers who did all that. The weather was a glorious sunny day so perhaps spring has finally arrived?

Many thanks to Sue and Bob for the photographs this week.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Merstone Station - Update.

I know a lot of people ask why do we do GG sessions where we just rake up cut grass? Obviously it is VERY good exercise but the main reason is so that it encourages all the wild flowers to establish before the grass over grows them. We did a huge "Great British Rake Off" at Merstone, back in November  (Wed 18th Nov 2015 - Merstone Station. GG # 611.) and the photographs below make all that hard work seem very worthwhile…!!!!

Many thanks to Terry for sending them in for the blog.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wed 27th April 2016 - Shanklin Family Centre (plus others). GG # 632.

Sue's Photographs.

Team 1 with the raw materials!

Team 2 getting themselves sorted.

Team 2 fencing.

Team 2.

Team 1 working on the entrance to the centre.

Work on the planters well underway.

Team 2 doing a "short back and sides".

Team 2 weeding.

Now, doesn't that look a whole lot better?

The children are going to finish the planting.
The area behind the pallets will eventually become a
"Mud Kitchen" for the children. (It sounds real fun!)

And before we leave - a final sweep through and tidy-up.

Mark's Photographs.

Why we check the work area carefully at this time of year…
a nesting blackbird.

Working on the entrance - first impressions are important.

One GGmer finds all this work too much - tyred already (bad joke!)

Hacking out a dead tree stump.

Above and below - the beautiful Bluebells in Batt's Copse.
Flowers like that are why we bother to litter-pick such areas.

I had better start this blog entry by explaining the (plus others) in the title. We were scheduled to work at the Shanklin Family Centre today, which is a Banardo's Centre. When Mark did his usual pre-session visit he decided that the area we were due to be working on was rather small for the number of GGmers attending. So it was arranged that we could also work at the adjacent St Blasius C of E Primary School (we last worked there in 2004) and also Batt's Copse (we had been there before, back in 2009) - what a slave driver Mark is! Group one were detailed to work at improve a grassy area, adjacent to the centre, by building car tyre planters and giving the whole garden a makeover. Group 2 worked in the attractive gardens of the primary school, getting them ready for planting by pupils. This included lifting a fallen fence panel back into place; tidying, weeding and pruning all around the garden and the two ponds; and training a large rambling rose over an arch. Group 3 were dispatched to Batts copse to work on a (much needed!) litter-pick. (Sue apologises for not getting any photographs of Team 3 over in the copse). As can be seen, from the photographs above, this was a well attended session so a good job that Mark had the foresight to arrange alternative work. Although it was a bright, sunny morning, the temperatures are still down on the average for this time of year.

At tea break we did all manage to meet up and the kind staff at the Barnado's Centre supplied us with the tea, coffee and biscuits - thank you very much ladies - much appreciated!

Many thanks to Sue and Mark for taking the photographs this week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wed 20th April 2016 - Martin's Wood (The Bee Fields), Newchurch. GG # 631.

Mark's Photographs.

Removing the redundant plastic rabbit guards.

Tackling the pesky bramble!

It looks as though the wood mice have been busy...

Another "scrape" takes shape.

Just part of the new bee "housing estate".
Steve's Photographs.

A return to this tremendous site for Hymenoptera (bees, solitary wasps etc), where we've been exposing new ground for their burrowing requirements for several years. Having all met up in the village car park, it was a short walk down to the EMH "Field of Memories" - an area planted with hundreds of daffodils and beautiful to see every spring. The area requiring our attention was just to the north of this field and we were soon as busy as bees (sorry - rubbish joke!) attacking the turf. For those who haven't seen the previous blogs about this site, we create "scrapes" to make things easier for the numerous bee and wasps that reside in the area. The soil here is the light, sandy type that is typical throughout the River Yar valley - our task is to remove the covering turf to expose the soil and then pile the turf in a pile around the edge. Have a look at the above photographs to get a better idea of what is difficult to explain in words! Other GG Team members busied themselves removing the plastic rabbit protection guards from the trees that had outgrown them and trying to reduce the amounts of bramble that springs up between the trees. Of course we did the usual litter-pick across the whole area we were working on. We had a visit from the IW Community Action Awards judges during the session who seemed very interested in the work we have been doing here both today and over previous years. 

One of the useful tools (besides a good spade) we find excellent for creating "scrapes" is a thing called a MATTOCK. Think of a pick axe with blades, instead of points, and you have the idea . also great for grubbing out bramble roots!


The earliest mattocks were deer antlers but later evolved into several basic designs. They have a broad blade, at 90 degrees to the handle, and another parallel with the handle, like the one shown here, that is perfect for cutting. It has been renowned for centuries for its versatility as a hand tool for breaking up hard ground, grubbing out tree roots and digging out stones, they are used by the army for digging 'foxholes' and were also used as primitive pole weapons in Europe throughout the Middle Ages. Smaller versions are invaluable in archaeological excavation.

Many thanks to Mark and Steve for taking the photographs this week.