Friday, May 25, 2018

Next session, 2nd June...

Please note that the next Green Gym session on 2nd June, will be held at Manor Farm, Mill Road, Marcham.  The main task will be Himalayan Balsam pulling.  Meet 9:30am in the car park outside Cumber's farm shop. Further details will be provided to members via the usual email before the day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Sunningwell Green, 19th May 2018

A glorious sunny day, just the weather to dive into a pond. In some cases literally, as James, leading on the day, managed to fill his wellies.

Sunningwell pond had become overgrown and covered in algae and matts of vegetation.  The main task was to remove this and fill the waiting skip with the sludge.  We only had a couple of pairs of waders, so Eleanor, our Duke of Edinburgh Award volunteer, waded in, together with a local volunteer from the parish council.  Those without waders helped to clear the edges and overhanging vegetation.  The outflowing stream also had to be cleared of encroaching weeds.

There was an area of rough ground to dig for a wild flower patch. The hedge we planted some time ago and is doing very well, had to be weeded.
We also had some volunteers from the local community to help with all the work, which included clearing the ivy from the church wall.

The highlight of the day was the wonderful refreshments provided by Bob Evans and his wife in their lovely garden.  Cakes baked by the local volunteers were pronounced the best ever by a hungry and very dirty mob of Green Gymmers.

The skip.

Eleanor in the pond.

Clearing the outflow.

Weeding the stream.

Cutting back ivy.

Fabulous elevenses.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Cothill Fen, 12th May 2018

Only four of us, Eleanor, Graham, Margaret and Dieuwke turned up for Green Gym this Saturday, the lowest attendance for about eight years. We were working at Cothill Fen under the direction of Judy Webb and the task was much the same as we had been doing four weeks previously, that is, filling the pools and watercourses with cut reeds to lower the concentration of nitrates coming from the surrounding agricultural land.

Before we began work, we went for a short walk to admire the amazing carpet of English bluebells in the surrounding woodland.

We then began work on the other side of the fen to where we had been before, raking reeds into the ditch between Cothill Fen and Parsonage Moor and transporting them from a pile on the other side. After the break, we moved over to the other side of the fen and raked there and filled up the pools and ditches.

During the morning we saw cowslips and bugle on the edge of the fen, a large number of cuckoo flowers (lady’s smock) in the fen and marsh valerian, which has male and female flowers on separate plants. We also saw an interesting dragonfly, a female broad bodies chaser, which was newly emerged from its chrysalis and still drying its wings. Judy found a soldier fly, her speciality. This one was a “banded general” and looked rather like a wasp.

We finished our morning’s work feeling we had done pretty well, considering the low numbers.

Photos by Margaret and Judy:

The bluebell wood.


Lady's Smock/Cuckoo Flower.

Female Broad Bodied Chaser.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 5th May 2018

Last Saturday, the Green Gym met for another session at the Town End of the Ock Valley Walk to complete the tasks started the previous week. Kevin provides the photos:

Work in progress.

Eleanor's discover of wild garlic amongst the nettles.

Eleanor undefeated surrounded by swathes of nettles.

More garlic.

Lesley and Ursula taking a brief breather in their endeavours to control the nettles.

Our enthusiastic Duke of Edinburgh student keeping up the pace to complete the task!

Robert about to run me over in his determination to be wheelbarrow champion for the day!

Rosie making sure no nettles even think about encroaching on to the newly laid path, with her skillful swing of the slasher.

Job done.

A grey heron (photo by Petra).

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 28th April 2018

This Saturday saw us return to the Town End of the Ock Valley Walk.  In an amendment to the programme, we assembled at St Helen's Court rather than behind the Ock Street flats. The footbridge over the weir has recently been replaced, after vandalism of the previous crossing last year. Therefore access to the path is possible from this point again. A second change to the programme saw Sally replace Eleanor as session leader for the occasion. 

Fourteen Green Gymmers assembled at the appointed spot before heading off towards the work site to receive instruction for the tasks ahead. The weather was dull and somewhat chilly, in sharp contrast to the almost summer-like conditions enjoyed during the previous outing.

The main job was to add another layer of woodchip to the path through the trees.  The council had left two piles of chippings at opposite ends of the route. With a pair of wheelbarrows and Colin's trolley to shovel the material into, we set about distributing it as evenly as possible, using rakes to achieve the desired surface. There wasn't quite enough material to finish this time around, but we will be back soon to get it completed.

Other details included a litter pick and the removal of weeds from the bases of the recently-planted trees and from the path edges.

It was apparent that many wildflowers have sprung up in the vicinity since our last visit. Both within the patches that we have sown ourselves and in the wider area. Particularly prolific were the forget-me-nots, speedwell and wild garlic. It was good to see that a number of the fritillaries we have planted are now in bloom.

Several passers-by stopped to talk to us throughout the morning, seemingly grateful for our continued efforts here. However, upon recovering our sign upon finishing up - advertising our activities, all was not well. The leaflet holder had been removed and discarded in a nearby tree! An unfortunate occurrence at the end of an otherwise fun session.

The GG'ers assemble.

The new footbridge.

Ursula and Sally erect the Green Gym sign.

Spanish bluebells.

Sally instructs the group.

Robert slashes some nettles.

Dan tips a load.

Count the number of session participants!

Colin salutes the photographer, while the rest of the group are too engrossed in tea break activities to notice!

Cherry Blossom.


Wild Garlic or Ransoms.

Snake's Head Fritillary.