Showing posts from February, 2018

Kennington Memorial Field, 24th Febuary 2018

It was a bitterly cold day, though fine and sunny as eleven Green Gymmers met for our twice yearly session at Kennington Memorial Field, under the direction of Rachel from Oxford Preservation Trust. Our task was to clear scrub from the south eastern slope to allow primroses and cowslips to come through later in the Spring. We also had a bonfire to burn the scrub. There were hawthorn and blackthorn bushes all tangled up with briars and brambles, the ends of which had taken root again in the ground. We had to keep moving to keep warm. Later on we were also joined by some Kennington families. We carried the cut scrub over to the fire, where the people tending it were able to keep a bit warmer. We were glad when it was break time and we could enjoy hot drinks. Then we carried on with the work and began to feel a little bit warmer. At last it was time to stop cutting and carry the remaining piles over to the fire. We were pleased with how much clearing we had managed to do and I s

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 17th February 2018

A dozen or so Green Gymmers assembled at an unfamiliar spot along the Ock Valley Walk on Saturday.  Described by session leader Eleanor as the flat bridge over the humpy bridge, the revised meeting point was necessary due to the ongoing closure of the normal crossing at St Helen's Court due to safety concerns. This necessitated a longer than usual walk to the woodchip path where we set up shop, ready for a morning of tree planting and litter picking. Eleanor had visited in advance and set out a number of colour-co-ordinated canes, marking the locations of whips of different tree species that were to be planted. Oak, beech, silver birch and alder were all represented and we therefore split into sub-groups to hunt these cryptically arranged sticks and get digging. Among our number were four new members - Tom, Christina, Zoe and Rob.  It was remarked to them that it was best not to get too used to planting trees, for we more usually chop them back! All the saplings had been pla

Jarn Mound and Wild Garden, 10th February 2018

We gathered at the Jarn Mound and Wild Garden, Boars Hill on Saturday, at least 15-strong.  There we met with Oxford Preservation Trust (OPT) warden Rachel Sanderson plus some local volunteers and received our instructions for the morning. As Green Gym session leader James had already outlined in his email during the previous week, the task was to cut up and remove fallen tree debris from the Wild Garden using bow saws and loppers.  The heavy snowfall here over the winter had caused a lot of damage and while tree surgeons had already been in attendance to tackle the most dangerous branches, there was much detritus left for us to clear. By the time we arrived on site, a bonfire had already been lit and some of the smaller cut branches were being added to it. The larger logs were stacked to one side to make a habitat pile for wildlife. Rachel then provided further instructions, crucially including which areas of the garden to focus our activities on.  We set to work fairly fra

Green Gym 20th Anniversary Joint Session, 8th February 2018

6 Abingdon Green Gymmers made their way to Watlington Hill National Trust site to participate in this event organised by Sonning Common Green Gym.  Representatives from most of the other Oxfordshire Green Gyms were present, Abingdon, Bicester, Chipping Norton, Wallingford as well as Newbury & Thatcham Green Gym from just over the border.  There were 49 participants overall, making for a good social/networking event meeting old friends and making new ones. We parked up, put on our boots and set off to site where there was much scrub cutting to be done. The NT wanted the site cleared of scrub and trees in order to encourage and allow wild flower habitat to grow.  So we set to our task after a 10 minute walk to site, started chopping and taking cut scrub towards one or other of the many bonfires that had been started. The wind was bitingly cold, but the work was physical so kept the cold at bay.  Tea break came along at 10:45 (we welcomed it being early!) where there was a hu

Frilford Heath Golf Club, 3rd February 2018

A very depleted group of Green Gymmers met in the Frilford Golf Club car park, a number of us having been laid low by illness. We made our way to Boundary House Fen, where our task was to finish off raking up the reeds and dead vegetation under the direction of Judy Webb and Rod d’Ayala. The weather was chilly, grey and slightly drizzly, which meant there were fewer golfers and flying golf balls to avoid as we crossed the course. On our previous visit before Christmas we had filled the stream flowing through the fen with cut reeds to encourage the water to spread out and Rod had already dammed it in places. This was important as the fen was in danger of drying out. The reeds also help to clean the water and remove nitrates, which damage the fen’s ecosystem. On our return, we found that the water had spread out considerably and formed pools. You can see in the photos the beautiful colours of a fen in Winter. There were piles of reeds from our last visit that needed to be mo