Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Ock Valley Walk, Tesco End, 23rd June 2018

Abingdon Green Gym were at the Tesco end of the Ock River Path this week.  Margaret was our leader for this session and our principal tasks were to pull up the invasive Himalayan Balsam and to pick litter.

It was a gloriously sunny morning and we were quite grateful for the cool of the shade as we made our way with the tools and refreshments to our usual spot to set up our base.  While James put up the Green Gym sign post, Dan busily cleared the path and a suitable area from stinging nettles, so that we could put down our tools in comfort.

Margaret then briefed the group on our tasks for the day and we welcomed a new member, Sophie.

We then split into two groups - four litter pickers and eight Himalayan Balsam pullers.

The litter pickers fitted bags to their hoops and were very careful only to put cans, plastic and glass bottles in the clear sacks for recycling by the Council and everything else we found in the blue sacks.  It was hard going to find litter under the vegetation, but we ended up with quite a haul.  We were stopped by a number of passers-by to thank us for our efforts and to find out a bit more about Abingdon Green Gym, which was rewarding.

Our finds of the day were a Spiderman chair, which Petra found, and two pyramidal orchids in the verge.  The chair came in very handy at break time when we were joined briefly by Margaret's partner, Steve, and his grandson, Oliver, who particularly appreciated it.  However, we had to send a search party for Margaret as she had got stuck in the mud in the stream on her quest to pull up balsam!  Luckily, she managed to extricate herself (and her wellies!) intact and came to no harm.  

Dieuwke provided the very welcome refreshments this week and we were treated to custard creams, which were devoured with relish.

After the break, the main focus for the HB pullers was a large area towards the far end of the path, just beyond the humpback bridge, by the wheat field and we all joined forces to tackle this invasive plant.  We could see that the balsam had already started to encroach onto the field.  It seemed to be a sea of balsam!  But we got stuck in and managed to remove a good number of plants, which we then had fun in crushing.

All-in-all, we had a very rewarding morning.
-Sally


Photos by Sally, Sophie and Margaret:



























Monday, June 18, 2018

Southern Town Park, 16th June 2018

Fourteen of us gathered in the car park in Lambrick Way. We were pleased to welcome a new member, Elaine. For once we were not going to pull up Himalayan Balsam, which made a change. Our task was to weed the wild flower patch, which we had sown in March with seed donated by Kew Gardens. This was an extension of last year’s patch.

We also needed to pick up litter, which is abundant in Southern Town Park, though in Summer much of it is hidden by vegetation. We wanted to cut back overhanging brambles and pull nettles from around the fences. Last year’s wild flower patch was in full bloom, with red campion, ox eye daisies, poppies and one of the umbellifer family growing very tall. This year’s patch was also growing well, though not yet in flower. We needed to pull up nettles, goose grass and thistles, and Matt and Kevin set to work to slash the surrounding nettles and long grass.

By the end of the morning the wild flower patch looked much clearer and we could see it was attracting insects. As well as bees, we saw a number of damsel flies and two small skipper butterflies, We collected several bags of litter and the path and fence edges looked much tidier.  
-Eleanor



Weeding the wild flower patch.

Before” photo of last year’s patch.

Lesley pulling up nettles.

Matt slashing nettles.

Tea Break.

“After” photo of last year’s wild flower patch.

“After” photo of this year’s patch.

Common Blue Damselfly (photo by Michelle).


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Mill Road, Marcham, 9th June 2018

This Saturday we were back at Manor Farm, Marcham again as the session at Stonehill Community garden had been cancelled. We knew there was still plenty of Himalayan Balsam to be pulled up.

Like last week the morning began rather grey and chilly but by break time the sun was coming out. As we expected, after a fairly dry week the water level in the stream had gone down considerably so we were able to cross quite easily to where most of the balsam was. After more than an hour’s work we were ready for our break.

Knowing there was a patch of balsam by the road outside the horses’ field I wandered down there and found it had grown very short and thick, but quite easy to clear. The others worked along the stream. Unfortunately there was quite a lot which was inaccessible as the banks were too steep or the water was too deep to cross.

We did our best, but we know there are more small plants lurking there and ready to spring up! Next Saturday we will have a break from balsam when we go to South Town Park.
-Eleanor



Dog roses growing around a log.

Thick juicy Himalayan Balsam by the horses’ field gate.

A group of happy HB pullers.



Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Summer 2018 Programme

Our new programme for Summer 2018 has just been published.  See below or click HERE to open a pdf file version (opens in a new window).



Mill Road, Marcham, 2nd June 2018

This was our opening salvo of 2018 in the battle against Himalayan Balsam. Fifteen of us met in the farmyard of Manor Farm, Marcham and set off to find the plants, which mostly grow along the stream.

The torrential rain of the past few days meant that the stream, which is usually easy to cross at a certain point, was running fast and deep. However, a few brave people got across with the help of fallen tree trunks while the rest of us stayed the other side. Fortunately the weather was now dry and by eleven the sun had come out.

There was certainly plenty of balsam, far more than there had appeared to be on an earlier recce and many smaller plants were hidden by nettles. We saw plenty of dragonflies, damsel flies and ladybirds, too.

We had our usual break at 11 with cake and biscuits, as well as Turkish delight and peanut brittle which Kevin and Carolyn had brought to celebrate Kevin’s birthday the following day. At 12.30 we made our way back to the farmyard. We had cleared a lot of plants, though we realised we would certainly need a further visit.
-Eleanor