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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wed 15th June 2011 - Northwood House, Cowes.

This Wednesday Team GG were back at Northwood House - where we visited, for the first time, just a few weeks ago. The real excitement of the day was when the new GG van arrived...all brand new and! Our tasks this week were in the grounds to the north of the house and involved cutting back dead wood, transporting pre cut materials to the composting area, trimming back hedges and bushes, sweeping up fallen leaves and generally having a tidy up. The weather was overcast to start with but after tea break the rain started and was to last for the remainder of the session. Oh well, the gardeners amongst us were pleased to see it...! Unfortunately Carrie's camera seems to have had a bad day (perhaps the rain got in it?) so we are a little short on photographs this week. The one above must be an "action" shot - we at GG don't have the time to stop and pose!

Carrie's Nature Lesson

A unusual shaped cone this week from a Norway Spruce(Picea Abies) The tree is conical in shape, with sharp rich-green needles, long rounded cones and brown scaly bark. The branches of young trees grow upwards, and when the tree matures the branches at the bottom droop slightly. The red-brown hanging cones first appear on the topmost branches when 30-35 years old, flower in May, and the seeds ripen and drop from the cones that winter.
The Norway spruce was a native species in the British Isles before the last Ice Age, and did not return naturally with the melting of the ice but was reintroduced before the 1500's.

It is a useful source of timber as well as providing dense year-round cover for many small birds and animals, with goldcrests and long-tailed tits finding shelter and food in the tree top. Older uses included fuel, charcoal, potash, Burgundy Pitch for medicinal plasters, tanning, scaffolding poles, ladders, spars, oars, masts for boats, flooring, musical instruments, lining parts of furniture, packing cases, fencing and roofing for agricultural buildings; the inner bark was used to make baskets and canoes, while the shoots were made into spruce beer. Its medicinal purposes include the use of its resin for healing ointments and skin pastes, while a tea made from the young shoots was used in folk medicine to ease respiratory troubles such as influenza, coughs and catarrh. The needles were added to bath water, and when boiled in milk whey the cones made a remedy for scurvy.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photograph and nature lesson this week.

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