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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

Thursday 23 September 2010

Wed 22nd Sept 2010 - West Wight Sports Centre.

Mark's Pics.

Eddie's Pics.

Carrie's Pics.

This week was our regular visit to the West Wight Sports Centre, to undertake the Autumn tidy up of the grounds around the centre. An excellent turnout on an extremely warm day saw around 30 of us getting stuck in to a great deal of weeding, especially at the front of the building. There was also lots of cutting back shrubs and trees, some of which were obscuring windows which have not had a wash for some time. All the results of this work was loaded into barrows for a large number of trips to the compost heap at the back of the building. As you can see from the images, one of the beds is in the middle of the car park, which means great care has to be taken in terms of safety, so we make sure we wear high visibility vests and surround the area with cones.

Many thanks to Carrie, Mark & Eddie for the text and photographs this week.

Friday 17 September 2010

Wed 15th Sept 2010 - Millenium Green, Ryde.

Eddie's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

Our second visit in recent weeks to Millenium Green community area, continuing the work previously started. The strong winds had eventually died down and it was quite a warm day, when about 30 volunteers set to on the tasks in hand. Further clearance work was done in and around the area near the pond, then the vegetation was stacked in neat piles. Another group were in the wildflower meadow which has undergone an extensive re-generation since we got rid of the bramble which had infested it, and there were still a lot of bees and a few butterflies taking advantage of the plants which still had flowers on them. Our first task was to collect as many of the seed heads from the plants as we could in a large bucket, which were then transported to the pond area to be scattered around in the hope they will regenerate this area in the same way. We then proceeded to cut back the dead areas and bramble round the edges, but leaving those plants still in flower for the bees and butterflies.

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

Just a note on my lesson from last week - good job I don’t identify fungi for a living! Now my resident expert has returned from his holiday I showed him the picture of the one we found last week at Ventnor Botanic Gardens, and he instantly identified it as a Deathcap! Oops! This is one of the most poisonous European toadstools, all parts of the fungus are deadly and it should never be eaten.

This week’s finds are firstly a Sloe Bug (one of a group of insects known as Shield bugs) Polycoris Baccarum also known as a “Hairy Bug”. This unmistakeable species is one of the very few shield bugs in our part of the world with ringed antennae, which give the impression of being “double”. The eggs are deposited in spring with the larvae being seen on various plants, especially those of the rose family, in the summer. Neither the larvae or adults have ever been seen feeding on Sloes, and the origin of its name has been lost in the mists of time. The adults appear at the end of summer on berry bearing shrubs, with their slow method of flight producing a low humming sound. They are also known as stink bugs because they leave behind a stinking substance on all berries they walk on, making them totally inedible. This substance is made for protection as a bird or other enemy will eat only one bug in its entire life, as it will always remember the dreadful taste. The second find is a plant known as “Woody Nightshade” (Solanum Dulcamara), the most common of the Nightshade family. It scrambles through hedges and shrubs entwining the branches, with clusters of purple flowers each with five petals and a golden cone (anther) in the centre of each. These are followed by glossy, oval berries which are red when ripe and VERY poisonous. The plant is also the source of a drug used for skin diseases and chest problems.

Many thanks to Carrie and Eddie for their contributions.

Thursday 9 September 2010

Wed 8th Sept 2010 - Ventnor Botanical Garden.

Eddie's Pics.

Carrie's Pics.

Our second week in a row at Ventnor Botanic Gardens – the hop picking is now all finished, so sadly no opportunity for another taste of the beer they made. Around 30 of us on a rather damp drizzly day, got stuck into clearing the very large hydrangea bed at the top of the gardens of the ivy which has infested it. The idea is that when all this has been cleared away, they will plant lots more hydrangeas to make the area look more colourful. Trish very helpfully came round with the tractor and trailer so all the ivy could be taken away, and we managed to fill the trailer about ten times with all the stuff we cleared out. The before and after pictures only show a small part of the big area we managed to clear.

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

In the absence of my fungi expert, I have tried to identify this week’s find from a fungi book – I think it is a member of genus Russula, a group that have become known as brittlegills. It has been commonly known as the Common Yellow Russula for some years, and latterly the Ochre Brittlegill. It is widespread, and common in mixed woodland, with a dull yellow cap which is initially convex, later flat or slightly depressed. It can be confused with the similar-looking Russula Claroflava.

Many thanks to Carrie for the text and pics this week and to Eddie for the first pictures.

Friday 3 September 2010

Wed 1st Sept 2010 - Ventnor Botanical Gardens.

This week the Green Gym was at Ventnor Botanic Gardens, helping Trish with the hop picking. About forty of us were stretched out in long lines and filling the large buckets which had been provided for us. Happily for several of the Green Gymmers they actually got to sample some of the beer which had been made earlier. Judging by the laughter coming from the end of the field, it was definitely going down well.

Hops are the female flower clusters (commonly called seed cones or strobiles) of a hop species. They are used primarily as a flavouring and stability agent in beer, to which they impart a bitter, tangy flavour, although they are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine. Hops were cultivated continuously around the 8th or 9thcentury AD in Bohemian gardens in Bavaria and other parts of Europe. However, the first documented use of hops in beer as a bittering agent is from the eleventh century. Prior to this period brewers used a wide variety of bitter herbs and flowers. Dandelion, burdock root, marigold, horehound, ground ivy and heather were often used prior to the discovery of hops. They are used extensively in brewing for their many purported benefits, including balancing the sweetness of the malt with bitterness. Historically it is believed that traditional herb combinations for ales were abandoned when it was noticed that ales made with hops were less prone to spoilage. The hop plant is a vigorous climbing herbaceous perennial, usually trained to grow up strings in a field when grown commercially.

Many thanks to Carrie for the text & photographs and a big thank you from me to all the people who signed the get well card for me.......I hope to be back with you all soon.

Thursday 2 September 2010

Wed 25th Aug 2010 - Millenium Green, Ryde.

This week saw the Green Gym at Millenium Green - which is a local community project. The Green was once grazed meadowland, but no grazing has taken place since about 1980; this has allowed the germination of acorns and undisturbed growth, resulting in an unusual area of naturally regenerating oak woodland. The clay soil and rich humus deposit provide an ideal environment for these young trees, and good woodland management is needed to ensure the correct selection of trees for thinning takes place in the future. The Butterfly meadow has a large variety of wild flowers in Spring and Summer, which have been helped by The Green Gym’s previous clearance of brambles. The Green and surrounding fields support a rich birdlife, and a survey in the 1990’s revealed over thirty species of bird. In August 2009 a local dragonfly expert visited the pond, and counted 17 Migrant Hawker dragonflies, as well as a lone male Southern Hawker defending his territory - an indication the pond area is providing the right habitat for these species to thrive.

Our tasks were to put in some more steps, and cut back a very large area which has been taken over - literally - by horsetails. Once we had cut them back it was amazing how much wildlife there was underneath - we found yellow and black beetles, several different types of spider including harvestmen, several crickets and butterflies. We also went to look at the flower meadow where we have worked on previous visits, and now all the bramble has been cleared it is just amazing how the wildflowers have re-generated, and how many bees and butteflies it has attracted this summer.

Many thanks to Carrie for the text and photographs.

Sorry that the blog was published a bit late this week - Bob the Blog was away getting repaired..!!