The Elizabeth Daryush Memorial Garden, 16th February 2019

We turned out in force for today’s session at the Elizabeth Daryush Memorial Gardens up at Boar’s Hill, led by Kevin under the instruction of Rachel Sanderson of Oxford Preservation Trust. Seventeen green gymmers, plus local resident Patrick, and Stephen who works with Rachel, made our way to the meeting point at the frog- and toad-filled ornamental pond.

It’s the first time we’ve had a session on this site in the month of February. One of the reasons for doing so was so that we could see the fruits of our labours over the last year, and very gratifying that was too. All the clearing of bracken and brambles beneath the tree-lined borders of the garden has made way for the snowdrops and daffodils that have been planted to spring up. Before too many weeks, we’ll see bluebells flowering too.

After a brief introduction to the gardens, we were given our task which, in the main, was to cut back the brambles which have taken over at the bottom of the gardens, choking fruit and blackthorn trees which had been planted many years ago. We were also to cut back the brambles along the dedicated footpath - not a cycle path, although this doesn’t seem to deter some cyclists.

Using scythes and loppers we started hacking away and soon the piles of brush built up. Much as we love a bonfire at the green gym, it was decided not to have one here. Instead the cut material was forked away and added to dead hedges around the perimeter, to encourage beetles, insects and other wildlife. It was a mild, muggy day and before too long many members had disrobed their outer garments and hung them on the trees in the old orchard.

We made considerable progress in the first half of the session, and once the trees had been de-brambled we could see that some of them were in quite a poor condition with lots of dead wood – albeit covered in beautiful lichen. Rachel decided to leave them to see how they fare over the summer, and then to plant new fruit trees where needed.

The break was very welcome and as we stood drinking our tea we spotted some rogue cyclists on the footpath. Naughty! Notices were given, and Ursula brought up the ‘clash of the quizzes’ – not one but two quizzes, both to raise money for good causes, to take place over the following weeks. Eleanor also discussed the big litter pick which will take place in two weeks’ time back in Abingdon.

For the second half of the session, the group spread out over the site for further bramble clearing, continuing where we had left off. Loppers and bow saws were brandished in anger and an impressive amount of clearance was evident by the end of play. Good work from all in attendance!

Photos by Andrew and Joanna:

The gratifying sight of snowdrops.

The meeting point by the pond.

Let lopping commence.

De-brambling around the trees.

Eleanor in action.

The brambles fight back.

Meanwhile at the other end of site...

Trees as garment hangers.

Give it a lichen.

Refreshment break and upcoming quiz notices.

Is everybody having fun(gi)?

A denuded tree.

Rachel leads the charge homewards.

Packing-up time.

Andrew branches out earlier in the session.

It's like a jungle sometimes.

Spot the mouse (if it is even there?!)


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