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Friday, March 9, 2012

Wed 7th March 2012 - Afton Marsh, Freshwater.

Well after a forecast of wind and driving rain, it took a very hardy group of Green Gymmers to turn up at Afton Marsh to help Nick the Ranger, all suitable attired in wet coats and wellies. We were somewhat fortunate with the weather, it remaining fairly dry most of the time only raining very hard at teatime! As it was too wet for a fire our tasks were to cut up some large branches of willow which had already been felled, drag it into piles facing inwards ready for a fire in the future and also to fell and stack some smaller willows - now this might sound fairly easy stuff for us but all this had to be undertaken in thick, black, deep, squelchy mud!! Care was definitely needed not to leave our wellies behind while moving around the site.

Carrie's Nature Lesson

It seems a long time since we found something for our Nature Lesson, but this week we have two finds. The first is Butterbur, a member of the daisy family Asteraceae in the genus Petasites; another common name of many species of this genus is Sweet Coltsfoot. The pale purple flowers are popular with early bumble bees, with male and female flowers growing on separate plants. They prefer moist environments such as riverbanks, marshes and ditches, flowering from March to May and grow to a height of 70cm. Its leaves can grow to 100cm across, and years ago people used to wrap butter in them to keep it fresh, hence their common name. In the Middle Ages the roots were used to remove skin blemishes, and native Americans used them as a headache remedy.

Our second find was Sweet Violet (Viola odorata) - this is one of our most valued flowers of spring with heart shaped dark green leaves which have scalloped or slightly serrated edges and are smooth or sometimes downy underneath. Depending on soil and light the flowers, which all have five petals, may be any colour from deep purple or blue to pinkish or even yellow whitish and bloom from March to June.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs, editorial AND the nature lesson this week.....!

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