Showing posts from May, 2015

Abbey Meadows Wild Flower Maze, 30th May 2015

This was the occasion of our maiden visit to Abbey Meadows for a session at the Wild Flower Maze - located just beyond the children's playground and adjacent to the crazy golf course, close to the Thames. We met in the car park at the end of Abbey Close, where we were met by Lucille from the Abingdon Carbon Cutters group, who have recently set up and look after the area. Having been guided to the site, Lucille then outlined the task of the day, which was to uproot and remove thistle and other prickly plants from the maze, in order to make the area more child-friendly.  The intention is that other wild flowers will be sown in their place. Spades and forks were deployed to tackle the thistle growth, which was already fairly extensive in a number of the beds.  Fortunately, our turnout was sufficiently large that there were enough of us to tackle it without the job appearing immediately daunting!  We were joined by another new member, Victor, who we were pleased to welcome alo

Bank Holiday walk along the Ock Valley, 25th May 2015

We start at the weir at the back of St Helen’s Court and the vicarage. At this point the two branches of the Ock join together and flow into the Thames. We follow the path between the two branches. There are many species of tree along the route, various types of willow, alder, silver birch, chestnut, poplar, aspen, oak, elder and guelder rose. On the right, there are trees planted by Green Gym in past years, which we are trying to nurture and keep alive. They were donated by the Woodland Trust – oak, beech, silver birch, willow, aspen, cherry and rowan. The vegetation grows very fast in summer – large quantities of nettles , rosebay willowherb, goose grass/cleavers/sticky willy, and comfrey followed by Himilayan Balsam. This is an invasive weed, which grows along and close to waterways and we wage annual war on it. We pass a couple of donated and memorial trees on our left. Then, on our right, we come to an area where the Town Council, which is responsible for the path up to the mi

The Elizabeth Daryush Memorial Garden, Boars Hill, 16th May 2015

On Saturday, we were again working in Elizabeth Daryush Memorial Field on Boars Hill.  The meadow had been cut recently. The bulk of the hay had been picked up by the mower, there was plenty left behind to rake up by hand.   We could not quite finish this, as the field was just too large. We continued grubbing out brambles and nettles to clear three patches for seeding with a wild flower mix.  We completed this for two patches, which was extremely satisfying.  Seeds scattered, we now look forward to seeing a beautiful mix of wild flowers emerging over the course of the year. There was also a large pile of wood that needed shifting out of sight. These piles are useful as wildlife habitats as they gently rot down in the woods. The orchids are doing well, and were given some space by removing the growth around them. It was a pleasure, as always, to visit this site, and the weather stayed fine for the morning.    -Ursula Preparing wild flower patch Hay raking

Burnt Platt (joint session with Sonning Common Green Gym), 9th May 2015

For today's Green Gym, the Abingdon team was led by Kevin. It was a joint meeting with the Sonning Common group and others came from Bicester and Newbury, so we were quite a big squad.  The job was unusually straightforward and consisted of clearing birch saplings and seedlings from a long section of heather. This was well established but was being threatened by a prolific invasion of birch from nearby trees.  Loppers and saws were the preferred tools. The work proved rewarding in terms of visible results during the morning, but it was hard on the back! The weather stayed fine, with only a little drizzle but some sun as well. -Barry Plenty to go at here! ...and here! A good heather bank here. Eleanor’s cake ... must be time for coffee.... Yes indeed! Time to go. Backs ache, but look at all that heather.....

Withymead Nature Reserve, 2nd May 2015

For this session we ventured farther away than usual, to Withymead Nature Reserve near Goring. This is one of our favourite sites. It's just a pity it's about 20 miles away! We had chosen the right weekend as the Loddon Lilies, for which this riverside site is famous, were in full bloom. Fifteen of us turned up and we were pleased to welcome a new member, Kristine, who had seen our group mentioned on the Cothill Fen notice board. It was also the regular Saturday for the Withymead volunteers. The main tasks were to move earth from the nettley future wildflower garden and pond site to the area outside the Study Centre. Paving has recently been laid there and we needed to make a smooth slope up to the paved area. It wasn't easy to dig the stony soil and we had to hack at it with mattocks. In doing this we were asked to make south facing "cliffs" so masonry bees would be encouraged to nest there. We transported the soil in wheelbarrows and the Withymead volun