Total Page-views

Blog Archive

IoW GG links

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

The link to Twitter is

If you would like to leave us any comments then please use this link

Friday 26 June 2009

Wed 24th June 2009 - Rew Down, Ventnor.

Helping the Rangers at Rew Down, Ventnor was this week’s venue for the Green Gym, and we had various tasks to undertake. These were building a new stile, entailing the removal of the old broken one, digging out the existing holes to a depth of about three feet, tamping in the new posts using the excavated soil and a few stones, (which amazingly took four of us most of the morning), then attaching and cross members and step; removing and bagging up for later collection any ragwort that could be found; and cutting back some small areas of cotoneaster (having a quick check for any nesting birds first of course).

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

Two interesting finds this week were Wood Spurge and Creeping Thyme (see pictures). Wood Spurge (Euphorbia Amygdaloides) is the only common spurge found usually in English woodlands, and recognised by its hairy, erect stems and yellowish, branched flower heads. It is a spreading and clump forming plant which can also be found (as here on Rew Down) in open, humid areas. Its flowers are very odd, lacking as they do both petals and sepals. Each cup-like structure contains one or more male flowers and a female flower, and some spurges are pollinated not by bees but by ichneumon wasps. Creeping Thyme (Thymus Serpyllum) is an evergreen subshrub that spreads to form a carpet, giving off a strong aroma when trodden on. It has tiny, finely hairy, mid-green leaves on wiry trailing stems and is covered in masses of tiny purple flowers in summer, which are loved by bees. Interestingly in the centre and slightly to the right of the picture, you can also see the elongated pink seed pods of a birdsfoot trefoil, so called because they are shaped like the foot of a bird.
Thanks to Carrie for the editorial and some of the pictures, the other pictures are from Richard the Ranger.

Friday 19 June 2009

Wed 17th June 2009 - St Helens Duver

Assisting the National Trust was this week’s task for the Green Gym, doing a litter pick around the Duver and along the beach at Seagrove Bay, and what a beautiful day we had too! There did not seem to be as many small plastic items as last time we undertook this task, but people still haven’t got the hang of putting dog poo bags in the actual bins rather that throwing them in the bushes - Ugh!! St Helens Duver has been a site of Special Scientific Interest since 1951, with a review in 1995 extending the boundary. It is now known as the Brading Marshes to St Helens Ledges SSSI, designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under an EC Directive and also listed as a wetland of international importance under the RAMSAR Convention. The area is important for wading birds, Brent Geese, rocky shore habitats, sand dune plants, marshland and much more.

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

We found quite a few lovely wildflowers, and here are examples of three of these - the first image is Common Storksbill (Erodium Cicutarium), with rose-pink or purplish petals favouring dry, grassy places and wasteland especially on chalk, and also found on coastal dunes. The second is Common Centaury (Centaurium Erythraea), a lovely compact plant of dry, open ground with pink or occasionally white flowers, found in wild, dry, grassy places including downland, and are good plants for rock gardens or in sandy soil. The last image is a Prickly Sowthistle (Sonchus Asper), which looks a bit like a combination of a dandelion and a thistle. Its flowers are yellow with shiny prickly leaves and if the plant is damaged, it exudes a milky sap. It flowers from June to August, usually growing in arable fields and waste spaces; also in the picture you can see a ladybird nymph (which is the immature form of the insect) on one of the leaves.

A big thanks to Carrie for the editorial and most of the pictures with one from Mark.

Sunday 14 June 2009

Wed 10th June 2009 - Ventnor Botanical Gardens.

Another excellent turnout this week at Ventor Botanic Gardens, Trish is always amazed at how much work 35 people can do in three hours. This weeks tasks were threefold; the first was a bramble bash; the second working in the Australian section to clear out dead trees, generally tidy up the ferns, prune any dead bits, weeding, and removing plants that were not Australian such as some buddleia and wild cherry; the third group cleared out a load of ivy and barrowed a big pile of soil for spreading.
Many thanks to Carrie and Mark for the editorial and pictures.

GG Goes On The Air.

The following message received from Mark......

Hi Everyone,

As a result of our recent good news we seem to be in demand ...Carole and I ,at short notice, were interviewed live on Radio Solent yesterday!! With nerves of steel (not) we sat alone in the studio in Newport awaiting the call.....If you would like to hear the result click on this link and then click on 'listen' once the pop up player has automatically launched and started you can move the slide to just after 2 hours into the programme to hear us. You need 'Realplayer' on your computer to play it, it is a free to download media player.

Take care


Thursday 4 June 2009

Queen's Award for Voluntary Services.

To all you lovely people who make up the

IOW Green Gym

As those of you who were present today will know, we have been awarded the prestigious award - the Queens Award for Voluntary Services.

I was asked by several people for a copy of the application - I attach it to this email, but as Mark has the up to date email address list, I am sending this to him and asking him to forward it to you all.

We had a wonderful morning at Brighstone Primary School where we celebrated our Honour with two of Gwen's delicious cakes, beautifully decorated in red white and blue and green, and absolutely scrumptious, and some fizz, balloons, ribbons, medals, and lots of good cheer.

The children presented to Mark a framed copy of the QAVS logo as the "real" presentation is not until later, they cheered the group as they walked into the area chosen for the celebrations and it was lovely to see all those surprised faces and big cheesy grins.

Congratulations to each and every one of you. Your efforts within Green Gym are outstanding and unequalled and this award is fully deserved - so all out on the razzle tonight, eh?

I also attach a copy of the Press Release, the outline of which was sent to us by the Palace and we just filled in the blanks.

It is expected that the announcement will be in Monday's issue of the London Gazette, it was due to be in yesterday's publication issued on the anniversary of the Coronation of the Queen but it has been delayed.

The County Press were with us today so there may be a picture in this week's edition. We have lots of photographs if anyone wants a copy emailed to them.

Always leaving the best to last.............our thanks go to you Mark, without you Green Gym would not be what it is and certainly would not achieve anything as much as it does. Your standing within the "green" community on the Island means Green Gym gets to visit sites that are both interesting and very rewarding and this makes each Wednesday a pleasure. So thank you Mr. Chairman for being you and for leading us onwards and upwards [and don't you dare delete this paragraph before forwarding!].


Note from the Blogmaster - I am still working on how to publish the actual documents refered to this space......!!!!!

Wed 3rd June 2009 - Brighstone Primary School.

Brighstone Primary School was our venue this week, helping them transform their grounds to help the children learn about plants and wildlife in various areas. The garden is laid out in three sections to represent the Coast, the Downs and Woodland. Our tasks in the area representing the Coast were to replant two small areas with shrubs and flowers, re-locate some Red Valerian, and dig out a giant tractor tyre which will be filled with sand. In the area representing Woodland, which was originally a very overgrown old pond, that has been cleared, we were building a footpath using small logs and woodchips. We found a very handsome slow worm in the log pile, which was carefully re-located to safer area. The school also have two hand-reared lambs which paid us a visit - see photograph.

Carrie’s Nature Lesson - this week’s find was a Comma butterfly (Latin name Polygonia c-album). Only 100 years ago, this ragged looking butterfly was almost extinct in Britain. The reason for this is still a mystery but from 1830 to 1920, sightings in the southern counties of England were reduced to just one or two. It wasn’t until around 1930 their numbers began to increase and today, it is a familiar sight in southern England and Wales. The Comma can be identified by the shape of its wings, the top of which are an orange brown colour, and the underside a dull brown colour with a small white ‘C’ shaped marking, giving the butterfly its name ( if you look closely you can just see this in the second picture). During winter they hibernate on the lower branches of trees and with their wings closed resemble a dead leaf, providing perfect camouflage throughout the winter”.