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

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Friday 29 May 2009

Wed 27th May 2009 - Osborne Middle School, Cowes

Well it finally rained on the Green Gym this week (a very rare occurrence), on our visit to Osborne Middle School in Cowes. Pupils and staff here are very keen on environmental issues, even having a PhotoVoltaic (PV) panel on their roof; today we were making them a new garden pond. The JCB had been in the previous day to dig the hole, the site of which had to be changed from the original one, as some electrical cables were found underground. Our first task was to move the large pile of soil excavated by the JCB, keeping aside some large stones for the pond; and it is hoped this bed will be planted out with flowers..

Next we made some small alterations to the depth and shape of the pond to improve it for any visiting wildlife, put some turf in to flatten out the bottom, followed by some old pieces of carpet. Next came the thin lining, the very thick pond lining , then another thin lining. These were held down with the stones we removed from the pile and some slabs to ensure the lining does not blow away before the pond fills up; we also put a few buckets of water in the pond to start it off. It is intended to run off from the nearest drainpipe, so the pond can fill naturally with rainwater. Our final task was to erect a fence around the pond which was quite tricky, as there were undergound pipes near some of the edges. While were were making the pond, a female duck made a brief visit (see picture), obviously checking it out for the future!
Many thanks to Carrie for the editorial and photographs.

Monday 25 May 2009

Wed 20th May 2009 - Millenum Green, Ryde.

This week saw us at our second visit to Millenium Green in Ryde, and the lovely sunny weather ensured a good turnout of volunteers. This week’s tasks were general clearance work; a litter pick; removing new bramble shoots from the area we cleared last year, and building three more benches, although we only fully completed two. We also went to look at another area we cleared of bramble last year, and you can already see lots of wild flowers colonising the area including daisies, vetch and red clover (see image). We also found examples of a plant called “Bugle” in the woodland, which is an excellent source of nectar (see image).
Carrie's Nature Lesson.
Red Clover is used as a grazing food for cattle and other livestock, and has also been used medicinally to treat a wide array of conditions including jaundice, asthma and bronchitis. It grows wild in meadows throughout Europe and Asia, and the red flowers at the end of the branched stems are considered to be the source of its active properties. It is a source of many valuable nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine and vitamin C. Bugle is a small spreading plant that produces a ring of blue flowers on top of each set of leaves, has a very dark stem and dark green leaves, often tinged with blackish violet. It is most often found in semi-shaded, moist conditions, but can also feature in sunny damp meadows. It is an important early source of nectar for butterflies, especially the Duke of Burgundy, Marsh Fritillary and the Pearl Bordered Fritillary.
Many thanks to Carrie for the text and some pictures - the others were from Eddie.

Thursday 14 May 2009

Wed 13th May 2009 - Cowes CountyPrimary School.

This week’s visit was to Cowes County Primary School, with another excellent turnout of volunteers. We have visited this site several times before, helping their part-time gardener maintain the grounds, but this is our first visit of 2009 so there was plenty of work for us to do. Tasks involved re-establishing a pathway through the cotoneaster at the front; trimming back overgrown hedges from pathways; weeding and clearing path edges; a litter pick and other general tidying.
Carrie's Nature Lesson.

This week’s mystery find was a Common Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus Icarus - see picture), males having pale violet-blue upper wings with grey-beige undersides, and females predominantly brown upper wings and orange crescents. This butterfly is common throughout the UK, and often produces two broods with eggs laid in June, then August and September. The caterpillars hibernate and pupate in April and May, giving rise to adults in May and June (so this specimen was an early one). Caterpillars are short, green and furry, feeding on the underside of young leaves leaving the upper leaf epidermis intact; they also secrete nutrient-containing substances that attract ants, so in turn the ants protect the caterpillar from predators and probably tend the chrysalis too. Adults drink nectar from flat-headed flowers, while the caterpillars eat wild, leguminous plants such as bird’s-foot trefoil, rest harrow and white clover; they can also be found in grassland, grassy dunes, meadows, woodland clearings and heaths.
Many thanks to Carrie for the above.

Monday 11 May 2009

Wed 6th May 2009 - Roman Villa, Brding.

Brading Roman Villa was our venue this week, in the Medusa Meadow, which has some amazing sculptures made by Eccleston George, who are Island of Wight based public artists. It was funded under the Breathing Places scheme, and officially opened by Alan Titchmarsh. The idea behind the Medusa Wildlife Meadow was to develop an existing area of ungrazed meadow downland, as a public area for entertainment, education and research. The meadow features a nature trail with sculptured seating areas, many of which were created with the help of local families, and incorporate shelter and homes for the many species of field voles, shrews, woodmice, slow worms and other wildlife.
Our tasks this week were to move a substantial sized compost heap from the front of the building to the back, and build a new compost area from wooden pallets; help the Villa’s volunteers weed the paths in the front garden area; and dig up ragwort and remove nettles which were overhanging the path, to help the Villa retain its Disabled Access Certificate.
Many thanks to Carrie for some of the pictures and editorial - and Eddie for the other pictures.
A Message from Mark......
I have had an email from the RCC letting us know about a photography competition which is currently under way in Hampshire and on the Island. have seen some excellent pictures people have taken of the group's activities and so if any of you who have some gems maybe you would like to submit them? The first prize is £100 for the photographer and £500 for the group!....... Judging by Georgie Palmer by the way!
Good luckMark

Friday 1 May 2009

Wed 29th April 2009 - Millenium Green, Ryde.

This week was our first visit of the year to Millenium Green in Ryde. The work undertaken last year is starting to bear fruit, with the area cleared of brambles already showing signs of wildflowers, which will hopefully attract butterflies back to this area. There was an excellent turnout on a lovely sunny day, with a wide variety of tasks for us to tackle. A muddy piece of path near a ditch was flattened out, the ditch deepened so waterflow will be better, and a wooden bridge built across the ditch. Brambles previously cut were moved to create a dead hedge, improving the access and letting in more light; small trees previously removed were cut up to provide a lattice over another very muddy area, and also to fill a gap in the hedge to prevent access; a new bench was built and there was also a general litter pick. While sorting the materials for the bench and bridge we discovered a very large toad, which was subsequently transferred to a much safer and boggy spot!
Many thanks to Carrie for the pictures & text.
A Message from "The Boss".
I am sure I probably don't remember to pass on the many thank yous regularly enough, I am often there at the end of the session or speak to the contact of whichever charity it is after the event and they almost always express their gratitude. A case in point was a very nice letter from the co ordinator of the Ryde Cemetery Project. In it she says and I quote 'The service that the Green Gym provided has assisted the project in not only achieving the majority of the original clearance targets but also revealed magnificent examples of Victorian headstones, vaults and tombs for both our local community and visitors to enjoy......please may I thank all the team who participated.' It is very nice to receive praise and I know we don't do it for that reason, but nevertheless it makes me feel its all worth it and I hope you feel the same way. So please consider yourselves thanked :-) See you soon, Mark