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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

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Wed 29th April 2015 - Pan Mill Meadows, Shide.

Sue's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

Pathway building.

Closing off a pathway.

Extreme wheelbarrowing!
Mark's Photographs.


Common Toad.

As somebody famous once said...."A picture paints a thousand words" and the picture below is a rain radar plot taken at 11:30 on Wednesday morning - it explains everything about the weather at that time!

Needless to say, Team GG got VERY wet during the session even though we started, and ended, work in the dry. The mown area of the meadow is looking wonderful but we were tasked to concentrate on the pathway that runs along the eastern boundary of the site. Most of the work this week involved a certain amount of re-cycling.... wood chips to build paths, gravel (from the dry stream bed) to fill in the areas that flood, the cuttings taken from the overhanging foliage was either replanted or used to fill in gaps and all the litter was sent off to be re-cycled at the tip. Green Gym really has become GREEN...!

A big "Thank You" to the staff and parking attendant at Matalan for allowing us to park there free of charge (perhaps the IoW Council could learn from this?)

Carrie's Nature Natter.

Two finds this week, the first just at the start of the session by Terri (who is holding the slow worm (Anguis Fragilis) in the picture).  With their long, smooth, shiny grey or brown bodies these look very similar to tiny snakes, but in fact they are harmless legless lizards.  Although found throughout mainland Britain, they are most common in Wales and south-west England, but absent from Ireland.

They like humid conditions and creep out from their hiding places at dusk or after rain, hunting for food, while spending the winter hibernating under piles of leaves or within tree roots.  If attacked by a predator they can shed their tails to escape, although they never fully grow back.
They eat slugs, snails, insects, earthworms and spiders, and you can see them in meadow and woodland areas, or hiding under rocks or logs in grassy meadows, farmland, woodland margins and open fields, usually from March to October.

Our second find was wild garlic (see picture) which smelt lovely during the morning session, especially when the rain started.  This native British plant is also known as Bear leek, Bear’s garlic, Buckrams, Ramsons, and Broad-leaved garlic.  It can grow to heights of between 45 and 50 cm with edible leaves and flowers.  The young leaves are delicious added to soups, sauces and pesto, best picked when young and appear in March.  The flowers emerge from April to June, and can add a potent garlic punch to salads and sandwiches.

The Latin name “Allium Ursinum” refers to the brown bear’s taste for the bulbs, and they are also a favourite with wild boar, although you don’t see many of either species in the Britain of today.  It is used traditionally throughout Europe as a spring tonic due to its blood-purifying properties, and is also thought to lower cholesterol.

The smell is said to repel cats, so may be a useful inclusion for a keen ornithologist’s garden, but despite its strong scent, it has a much mellower taste than conventional garlic.

Many thanks to Sue, Carrie and Mark for the photographs this week and to Carrie for the Nature Natter.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Wildlife-friendly gardening competition.

Any GG members living in the Newport area interested in a wildlife friendly gardening competition? Have a look at the poster below... Good Luck...!!!!

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Wed 22nd April 2015 - Golden Hill Country Park, Freshwater.

Carrie's Photographs.

"We're the kings of the castle...."!
Or, what 6.5 tonnes of limestone chippings looks like.

A rather amazing caterpillar - prior to careful re-homing.

Mark's Photographs.

Our "employer" for the session.

The barrow boys!

Island Roads..... eat your heart out...!

Bluebells and butterfly

One of the super views around the park.

It was the start of September, last year, when we last visited the Golden Hill site. With the bird nesting season well underway (so no cutting back) and two trailer loads of wheelbarrows in the car park, it could only be one task for us this week..... laying limestone chipping pathways...! By the time we had left the car park and headed down to the southern boundary of the park, it was about 10:15 before the first barrow was loaded. Nick, the ranger, assured us that we didn't have to lay all 6.5 tonnes of chippings during this session - especially as the loaded barrows had to be pushed up hill from the pre-dumped pile. As it turned out he shouldn't have been concerned, Team GG got stuck in and cleared the whole lot by tea break at 11:00 - which must be some kind of record even for us! Other team members gave the undergrowth around the adjacent pathways a light trim and carried out the usual litter pick. Although we have worked at the park many times over the years, it is always a pleasure to hold a Green Gym session there with the wildlife, numerous woodland walks and beautiful views over the surrounding countryside. The excellent April weather this year continues to hold with blue skies and bright sunshine - even the cool breeze wasn't an issue once the barrowing was underway!

Many thanks to Carrie and Mark for their photographic contributions.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Wed 15th April 2015 - West Wight Sports Centre, Freshwater.

Sue's Photographs.

The overgrown frontal areas.

Where do we start...????

Working on the flower (weed?) bed.

A traffic island gets the GG workout..!

One job completed.

Work is well underway.

The "runways" after clearance.

The front beds after a weeding and "haircut".
Carrie's Photographs.

Before (above) and After (below).

Before (above) and After (below).

And a couple of "work in progress" shots.

It has been some time since Green Gym visited this venue and the gardens around the centre certainly reflected this...! Perhaps the kindest description would be to say that they were "overgrown" with most of the planting we had done in the past being in desperate need of pruning. Such was the scope of the task, we deployed GGmers all around the periphery of the building and got "stuck-in". All work areas were carefully inspected to ensure that we would not be disturbing any nesting birds. As with all these sort of jobs, it is easy to cut things down but the difficult bit is transporting all the cut material to its final resting place. Apparently the sporty types use the walkways for circuit training so we were instructed to cut everything back HARD, leaving them a clear track to run around. Other GGmers tackled the flower beds to the front of the building and prepared a raised flower bed for planting up..... wow, we were busy! With a clear blue sky and the temperature up in the low 20's it was a very pleasant session indeed. Everyone was more than ready for our tea break - many thanks to the centre's catering staff who supplied us with tea and biscuits. Mark made a presentation to our outgoing treasurer and thanked him for his many years of excellent service. On completion of the work, there was a buffet lunch organised for those staying on for the AGM.

As we approach the General Election, I have thought of something you can ask the canvassers when they bang on your door. We are told that we should all be doing volunteering under the "banner" of The Big Society - something that many of us have already been doing for years. The question to ask them is "Why, when we give up our time and pay our own transport costs, do we have to pay car parking charges at the venue we are working at?"  We used to visit this venue and were given a council exemption for parking fees during the time we were working there, we now have to fork out £3:40 for that privilege. Surely volunteers should get a free pass, is it too much to ask for? Just a thought.....

The photographs this week were courtesy of Sue and Carrie, many thanks to both!

Sunday 12 April 2015

Sunday 12th April - Carrie’s Nature and History Natter.

Carrie’s Nature and Nature and History Natter - April.

April is an amazing month for wildlife as shrubs and trees burst into life with fresh green foliage, and bird songs grow in volume and diversity. Although our breeding birds don’t usually arrive until May, early morning sleep can be subject to disturbance by a strident blackbird or song thrush, while in the countryside on sunny days the chiff-chaff and blackcap will have been singing for a week or two.

Our overwintering birds visitors such as fieldfares and redwings leave us in April, as do visiting geese, swans and waders, while the summer visitors arriving to replace them include house martins and warblers such as whitethroats, marsh, sedge and willow warblers.  The three types of returning birds that perhaps most signify summer are the nightingale, cuckoo and swallow, while some resident bird species such as blue tits and blackbirds may also have had their first broods.

In our ponds the frog spawn and toad eggs can be found in large quantities, and such species are becoming more dependent on gardens as their usual strongholds of farmland ponds have largely disappeared.

Badger activity is high by now, with sets having been spring cleaned and adults making foraging sorties each night.  Although the young are born from mid-January to mid-March remaining in the breeding chamber for about eight weeks, April will see the young appearing above ground for the first time.

Peacock, orange tip and speckled wood butterflies will be appearing this month, and in southern areas the yellow brimstone will already have been on the wing for several weeks, having over wintered amongst ivy as adults.  Ash trees will be in flower, but their leaves are one of the last to emerge around May.  The male parts consist of a bundle of purple pollen filled clusters while the female parts dangle in the air to pick up wind borne pollen.

In history April was the second month of the initial Roman calendar, until January and February were added in 700BC.  It is thought the name originates from the Latin word “to open” and describes the trees opening at springtime. It could also come from the Greek goddess Aphrodite.. Its historical names are Aprilis – Roman, Eosturmonath (Easter month) - Saxon and Oster-mond – Germanic.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Wed 8th April 2015, St Mary's School, Ryde.

Mark's Photographs.

Creating the clearing....

A nice open air classroom!

Above and below - the old watercourse.

Sue's Photographs.

Removal of dangerous fencing.

Spot the cricket..

The next generation of frogs at the spawn stage.

Carrie's Photographs.

Just some of the litter we collected.

It was back to school for Team GG this week even though everyone else was on the Easter holiday. We have visited this venue several times in the past but it was back in 2011 when we last worked there.  The school is lucky to have an allotment area, a pond and quite a large area of woodland - all within the grounds. We were tasked to work on all those areas for this session with multiple jobs in each area. One team set about cutting back a clearing at the northern end of the woods and opening up the walkways for the children to have full access. The hedging around the pond area was given a much needed "haircut" and the overgrown areas of brambles were all trimmed back. Up in the growing area, some of the raised vegetable beds were dug over and will now be ready for planting. The team that were working in the woods discovered more of the stone work that we had found on a previous visit. We think this might have been part of a watercourse from when this was part of the formal gardens of St John's Park, sited here before the school was constructed. (see link below)
The weather was sunny and warm, almost like a summer day - hopefully a sign for GG sessions to come...!

St John's Park 1797 to 1803: Remodeling of the grounds and creation of park by Humphry Repton notable landscape gardener.'  Source Please note - St Mary's School was built in the grounds of what was the Bishop Lovett School now known as Oakfield Primary School.

Photographs kindly supplied by Sue, Carrie and Mark.