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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wed 4th April 2012 - Brighstone Main Road.

Carrie's Photographs.

Mark's Photographs.

Do you remember those old American films where the prisoners were in working gangs repairing the highways? Had you driven through Brighstone on Wednesday morning then you would have had a flashback to that memory - team GG were strung out along the road, attacking the grass bank with picks and spades...! This week our task was to try and dig out some of the sucker roots that had grown into the grassy bank from the hedge above. Although on the face of it, this sounds to be a simple task, it turned out to be anything but. Once the soil had been loosened with a pickaxe, it was then time to try and wrestle the feeder roots from the ground without damaging the surrounding area too much. Some of the suckers were well in excess of 2 feet long and required herculean effort to drag them out of the soil. (see photo below)

The overhanging hedge was trimmed back and once the majority of suckers were removed, new wildflower plant plugs were planted out. This should make this predominant bank an attractive feature of the village for years to come. Last night's long overdue rain shower should help to get the new plants established. Several residents were out helping the 34 GG team members who attended this session and although the morning started cloudy, the sun soon shone through.

Also in Brighstone this week we returned for what is now the fourth time over the years to work in the local Brighstone Primary School. Eleven people were working there to get the school's vegetable garden ready for the growing season. A lot of children enjoy out of classroom activities, and this school has a lovely garden, so to help our group have dig out a lot of ground elder and other weeds so the ground is all ready for the children to sow and plant.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

A real harbinger of spring was our find this week - the Primula Veris or Cowslip, an extremely well known and popular wild flower whose numbers declined dramatically between the 1950s and the 1980s. It grows to a height of 20-30 cm when in full flower, with leaves up to 10-15cm and produces delicate yellow flowers of 1-2cm usually between March and May. Its preferred habitat is open grassland either slighly alkali or neutral in nature, requires a generous amount of light in order to flower and is not successful in woodlands or under tall plants. They are found both in dry and in continuously moist conditions, short grasslands and are a must for almost all non-acidic open grassland sites. The plant forms a key component of spring flowering grasslands, and can be used to create cowslip meadows in ordinary turf grass. It can also be planted at the front of herbaceous borders. They provide a valuable food source for bees and are the larval host plant for the Duke of Burgundy butterfly, providing an important nectar source.

Many thanks to Carrie & Mark for the photographs this week and to Carrie for the Nature Lesson.

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