Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Cothill Fen, 9th February 2019

Twelve green gymmers turned up for our first outing at Cothill Fen for 2019. Today’s leader was Margaret, under the instruction of Judy Webb of Natural England and her colleague Steph. 

Two weeks had elapsed since our last session - owing to the snow of he previous weekend, thus we were raring to go!

It was a beautiful morning with pale winter sunlight breaking through the clouds as we made our way to the fen. On arrival, we could see how much it has transformed since our last visit in December. The pond has expanded considerably over the area, proving that all that reed cutting and raking has been worth it. In addition, there had been a lot of tree work around the perimeter. Many of the ash trees are dying but rather than chop them down completely, they had been topped to allow jet ants to continue living in them, as these attract rare beetles and insects.

Our task for today was mainly hazel coppicing in the woodland beyond the fen. The aim of doing this is to allow light right down to the woodland floor so flora and fauna can flourish. We were to put the logs into one pile, useful long wands into another and brush into a third pile.

Other than that, Judy commandeered three members to rake some cut reeds into a channel at the other end of the fen. While there, a section of alder trunk was recovered from a tree that had recently been felled. The rings were counted and verified and it was found to be 107 years old!

By tea break we had made considerable progress and were ready for our refreshments. In addition to the usual biscuits, we heartily delved into a box full of Devon fudge which Joanna and Andrew had brought back from their honeymoon on Dartmoor. We feared this might precipitate a sugar slump for the second half of the session, but if anyone was planning on this, as Eleanor pointed out: ‘we’ve chopped down all the trees – there’s nowhere to hide!’

Notices were given, with two quiz nights in the offing, and then it was back to work.

A frenzied last hour saw us make good headway into the woods and we were pleased to receive some praise from a local resident who congratulated us on our continued efforts.

During the morning, Judy performed her usual surveys for noteworthy specimens, and shortly before close, she came brandishing a winter polypore fungus for Andrew to photograph. See below for evidence!
-Joanna and Andrew

Photos by Andrew (and Margaret and Joanna where indicated):

Joanna comes in peace.

The ever-changing view across the fen.

Carolyn and Sally get down to business.

What Rosie saw.

Kevin's perfect pitch (forking).

The rake's progress.

Joanna distributes the fudge at breaktime.

Andrew shows off his trunk (photo by Margaret).

Eleanor with nowhere left to hide (photo by Margaret).

The pollarded ash/jet ant hotel (photo by Joanna).

1, 2, 3, 4... 107!

Wands and brash.

The winter polypore fungi.

In amongst the coppice stools (photo by Joanna).

Andrew takes his final photo of the session (photo by Joanna).


Saturday, February 2, 2019


The 2019 batch of Green Gym marmalade has been made. £2 per jar. Place your order now!

Photos of the marmaladies cutting up peel and stirring and of the finished product by Eleanor:

Jarn Mound and Wild Garden, 26th January 2019

Today’s task, under the direction of Rachel from Oxford Preservation Trust was to clear the remaining wood, which had fallen in the storms and snow of 2017 – 18 and to transport it to the bonfire site in the middle of the wild garden.

This time OPT had arranged a Landrover and trailer to transport the wood. We split into two groups, most going to help load the trailer while the others stayed at the bonfire site. Graham, as usual, was the bonfire expert and soon had it lit. We cut and sawed the bigger branches into suitable sizes for the bonfire while waiting for the next trailer load. The wood was thrown down the bank and dragged over to the bonfire.

After our tea break we continued with the work and kept the bonfire going. The last trailer load was a long time arriving and we wondered whether we would get it all on to the bonfire in time, but with everyone working hard, the task was completed.

We look forward to seeing the development of the wild garden over the coming years.

Photos by Margaret (first 6) and Eleanor (last 2):