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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 :-

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

Thursday 23 June 2011

Wed 22nd June 2011 - Brading Down.

Carrie's Photographs.

This week saw us on one of our regular visits to Brading Down, where we were again working hard on the removal of ragwort (and doesn't the photo of our new van look smart!). We had an excellent turnout on an extremely blustery day, and no work on the down would be complete without a shower of rain - and at teatime!! The programme of scrub clearance and other work in recent years has definitely improved the area for wildlife, as well as making it safe for grazing cattle. Pyramidal orchids are a particular feature, and the area is also good for butterflies including common blue, chalkhill blue, small, large and dingy skippers, marbled white, gatekeeper, and meadow brown. In addition the ancient field system is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, with the finest surviving ancient field system on the Island (probably late Iron Age or Roman)found here.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

We have two items this week, the first is an interesting caterpillar found by Richard which is that of the Six Spot Burnet Moth. These are day flying moths, whose red wing spots warn predators that they taste bad! The caterpillars feed on trefoil and vetch which contain traces of the poison cyanide, and these toxins are carried on through to the adult moth. The caterpillars pupate on grass stems, forming a yellow coloured chrysalis.

The second is Germander Speedwell (Veronica Chamaedrys), a low growing, patch-forming, prostrate plant found in grassy areas and hedgerows. Its pretty blue flowers have a distinct white 'pupil' in the centre, giving it the country name of 'cat's eye'. It has triangular shaped leaves and hairy stems, is a nectar source for solitary bees, and in the past was used in herbal medicine to treat coughs and catarrh, and as a blood tonic.

Terry's Photographs. (showing the brand new Green Gym Mobile...!)

Alison's Photograph. (Showing members enjoying a post GG meeting picnic..!)

Many thanks to all those who have contributed text and photographs towards the blog this week.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Wed 15th June 2011 - Northwood House, Cowes.

This Wednesday Team GG were back at Northwood House - where we visited, for the first time, just a few weeks ago. The real excitement of the day was when the new GG van arrived...all brand new and! Our tasks this week were in the grounds to the north of the house and involved cutting back dead wood, transporting pre cut materials to the composting area, trimming back hedges and bushes, sweeping up fallen leaves and generally having a tidy up. The weather was overcast to start with but after tea break the rain started and was to last for the remainder of the session. Oh well, the gardeners amongst us were pleased to see it...! Unfortunately Carrie's camera seems to have had a bad day (perhaps the rain got in it?) so we are a little short on photographs this week. The one above must be an "action" shot - we at GG don't have the time to stop and pose!

Carrie's Nature Lesson

A unusual shaped cone this week from a Norway Spruce(Picea Abies) The tree is conical in shape, with sharp rich-green needles, long rounded cones and brown scaly bark. The branches of young trees grow upwards, and when the tree matures the branches at the bottom droop slightly. The red-brown hanging cones first appear on the topmost branches when 30-35 years old, flower in May, and the seeds ripen and drop from the cones that winter.
The Norway spruce was a native species in the British Isles before the last Ice Age, and did not return naturally with the melting of the ice but was reintroduced before the 1500's.

It is a useful source of timber as well as providing dense year-round cover for many small birds and animals, with goldcrests and long-tailed tits finding shelter and food in the tree top. Older uses included fuel, charcoal, potash, Burgundy Pitch for medicinal plasters, tanning, scaffolding poles, ladders, spars, oars, masts for boats, flooring, musical instruments, lining parts of furniture, packing cases, fencing and roofing for agricultural buildings; the inner bark was used to make baskets and canoes, while the shoots were made into spruce beer. Its medicinal purposes include the use of its resin for healing ointments and skin pastes, while a tea made from the young shoots was used in folk medicine to ease respiratory troubles such as influenza, coughs and catarrh. The needles were added to bath water, and when boiled in milk whey the cones made a remedy for scurvy.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photograph and nature lesson this week.

Thursday 9 June 2011

Wed 8th June2011- Riverside Centre, Newport

Carrie's Photographs.

Terry's Photographs.

June's Photographs.

The GG session this week was very much on our own turf (please excuse the pun!) - the Riverside Centre at Newport. This is where the GG Team is based and where all out tools, equipment etc is stored. There were numerous tasks to tackle - perhaps the largest of which was to rebuild a large wooden planter in the rear courtyard area. This had originally been built using a false base made of wood which, over the years, had become rotten and had collapsed. The existing plants were lifted, pruned and soaked in water while the whole bed was dug out, repaired as required, partially filled with re-cycled plastics, fitted with a new plastic liner before being refilled with new top soil. The old plants, along with some new additions, were then planted up and a good layer of wood chip mulch applied to retain the moisture and keep the weeds down.

Another large job involved the dismantling of an old shed and the re-siting of another one - see the pictures above for details of that work! Other GG members weeded and turned over the soil in various flower beds and the whole area was given a spring clean. In the midst of all this work (chaos?) several of the team were being interviewed for a radio about multi tasking....!

We had a really good turnout and with the exception of a short sharp rain shower, it was dry and warm.

Many thanks to Terry & June (sounds like an old TV show!) for the photographs.

Friday 3 June 2011

Wed 1st June 2011 - Brading Downs.

Terry's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

This week the GG meeting was part of a much bigger event called Bioblitz. It allows lots of the groups associated with nature to come together and also have a "nature day" collecting data on a given area. Brading Down has recently achieved Local Nature Reserve status so it will be interesting to see what is growing and living in this area of rich biodiversity. We were tasked with several jobs this week, extreme pathway building (see below), ragwort pulling and general trimming of the undergrowth along the numerous pathways on this site. It was an excellent turnout and good progress was made on the given tasks. At tea break we were treated to delicious cake, the occasion being farewell to one of our long term ranger friends, Rick. Good luck in whatever you decide to do next......!

Definition of extreme pathway building - take a pile of about 5 tons of stone chippings - get as many wheelbarrows as you can muster (complete with athletes to push them!) - find the steepest path around (at LEAST a 30 degree slope) then barrow the chippings from the top to the bottom...!!! To make it even more interesting, make sure the slope is south facing and organise the event on a really hot day. You soon become very aware of where your leg muscles are.....

Green Gym had a stand up in the car park area and members of the public seemed very interested in the work we do across the Island.

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

This week we found a Great Mullein, (Verbascum Thapsus), also known as Aaron’s Rod. As well as growing in disturbed areas such as fields and ditches, it is also easy to grow in the garden. A multi-purpose herb it is a lovely addition to your landscaping, with a stalk growing some 6ft high and leaves up to 2ft across. The leaves are spirally arranged, often densely hairy with flowers having five symmetrical petals in colours including yellow (most common), orange, red-brown, purple, blue or white. The Puritans used it as a medicinal herb, with teas and ointments made form the leaves of the plant used for many years to alleviate lung diseases, rheumatism, burns, rashes and earaches. In your garden a good specimen is excellent for attracting bees who enjoy the blossoms, while birds can also eat the seeds.

The other picture shows some of the "beasties" that was found on the day.....!!!!

Many thanks to Terry & Carrie for the photographs and Carrie for the nature lesson.