Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ock Valley Walk, Tesco End, 24th June 2017


This Saturday was a joint session with Sonning Common Green Gym, the first Green Gym to be set up. We welcomed four Sonning Common Green Gymmers to help us clear the acres of Himalayan Balsam to be found on this site so there were eighteen of us in all.

We split into four groups to go to different areas plus a group of litter pickers – there is always a large amount of litter to be found here as people seem to think it perfectly acceptable to buy their food and drink at Tesco and discard the packaging along the path and in the woods on the way home.

The Himalayan Balsam in the ditch was the hardest to get at as the bottom of the ditch was filled with shallow water and treacherous squelchy mud. It was also a very daunting sight in the wooded area on the way to New Cut Mill, stretching as far as the eye could see. One of the Sonning Common members had an unfortunate encounter with a wasps’ nest while working on the banks of the Ock, but carried on bravely after the break.

We marked the break with plenty of cake and biscuits, including delicious muffins made by Carolyn. Then it was back to work and we were very grateful for the extra help.

Fortunately we have another session on this site in July and there is still more to be done.  Sonning Common told us to watch out for special events and activities in 2018 as it will be their 20th anniversary.
-Eleanor


HB by the Ock.

Lesley litter picking.

HB in the woods.


Sharing the biscuits.

Enjoying the break.


Members of Abingdon and Sonning Common Green Gyms (photo by Julia Booker).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Elizabeth Daryush Memorial Garden, 17th June 2017


On Saturday 17th June we returned to the delightful Elizabeth Daryush Memorial Garden on Boars Hill.  This time it was the pond that need some attention.

Rod d’Ayala, an expert in this field, explained that the pond needed to be cleared of crassula, an invasive foreign species that takes over and smothers native plants.  We were all a bit surprised to find that this plant looked very much like moss and was about the same size, but harder to grub out.

We worked in defined patches, first cutting down everything to ground level which made it possible to remove and safely dispose of the invader.  The pond will have to be covered with fresh patches of plastic liner and gravel to further discourage the spread of crassula.

Although the work was hard, as can be seen from the pictures, we had wonderful weather.  The Damsel and Dragonflies were all around, bees and butterflies buzzed happily, only gnats were a bit of a nuisance.

Our earlier sessions there involved marking the positions of marsh orchids, and they are doing well. The pond margins are also now clear of bramble but water lillies and yellow irises are abundant.

On Sunday we were back in the Garden with the Oxford Preservation Trust who look after the area, to enjoy afternoon tea and jazz.
-Ursula     



Marsh Orchid

Pond Clearing.

Crassula.

Hard work.

Considering it...

More hard work!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Mill Road, Marcham, 10th June 2017

This was our first serious Himalayan Balsam pull of the season. It is necessary to try and get rid of this invasive species as it produces seed pods which, when ripe, explode and release about 200 seeds each. These are carried along water courses and colonise new sites.

We assembled in the yard at Manor Farm, Marcham and were pleased to welcome back Lydia from her honeymoon trekking in the Himalayas. She hadn’t seen any Himalayan Balsam there. We must therefore conclude that it is all here.

We set off down the lane, turning right on to a “Jubilee Walk” footpath which led us to a stream where the Himalayan Balsam grows in abundance. Tackling it is a major challenge here as much of it is inaccessible, either because it grows on the steep banks of the stream or on land which is out of bounds, huge swathes growing on the other side of barbed wire fences.

We set to work to pull up as much as we could. It had grown quite tall and didn’t require much bending over and some was already in flower. There was also a shallow spot in the stream we remembered from previous years where we could cross quite easily.

We returned to the farmyard for our tea break and gathered in the barn. Sadly, the plastic picnic chairs which we had used in the past had disappeared but there was a large concrete block, rather like a sacrificial altar, which served as a table.

Then it was back to work, and by the end of the session we had some pretty impressive heaps. We have one more Himalayan Balsam session here in a month’s time.
-Eleanor


The Balsam pull begins.

A small section of the Himalayan Balsam.

Pulling continues.

One of the largest specimens of the day!

A pile of pulled Balsam.

Tea break in the barn.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Summer 2017 Green Gym Programme

Our new programme for the summer has just been published.  See below or click HERE for a pdf version (opens in new window).




Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Fun in the Park, 3rd June 2017

Last Saturday was the annual 'Fun in the Park' event in Abingdon's Abbey Grounds.  For the past couple of years, we have been relegated to the car park for this community event, but we were pleased to be able to pitch our stall in the park itself this time!  The weather was suitable glorious to boot.

A number of Green Gymmers - Eleanor (and husband, Arthur), Sally, Lesley, Janet, Kevin, Carolyn, Jessica, Colin, Dieuwke, Michelle and Andrew helped out throughout the day, with details including the erection and dismantling of the gazebo, tables and associated paraphernalia in addition to speaking to prospective new members, and selling our wares.

Eleanor had printed and laminated some new photographs for the display boards, and a good amount of people expressed an interest in our activities throughout the day.

The "Find the Lucky Square" game made it's annual appearance and made £8.00.  Along with sales of the legendary Green Gym Marmalade, Eleanor's Lemon Curd, Mixed Fruit Chutney and Rhubarb and Ginger Jam, treasurer Sally was pleased to inform us that a respectable total profit (after costs) of £34.20 was achieved!

A photo of some of our volunteers at the stall even made it onto the popular Abingdon Blog.  A good effort all round!
-Andrew



The Green Gym stall back in the park itself!

Marmalade among other preserves for sale!