Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Barton Fields, 25th August 2018

This session saw our annual visit to Barton Fields following the cutting of the wildflower meadow. It’s important to rake the cut vegetation off as quickly as possible so the nutrients don’t leach into the soil and make it too rich. Wild flowers thrive on poor soil. 

There was a big turnout, including a new recruit. A group of Scouts and their leaders from 2nd Abingdon also came along to help David Guyoncourt and the Abingdon Naturalists Green Team, who look after this site.

The weather was fine and sunny but fortunately, fairly cool. The cut vegetation had been raked into piles by the Green Team earlier in the week and our task was to transport it to the heaps at either end of the meadow, either with pitchforks, drag bags or on large sheets of plastic. 

The task looked really daunting at the start, especially as we knew there was a smaller meadow beyond, but we set to work and by break time we had achieved a lot. We found a few small toads, which had had a lucky escape and you can see a photo of one of them. The children enjoyed climbing on the heaps and jumping to squash them down. They worked very hard and willingly.

We stopped for our tea break and David had provided buns and apples to keep us going. We were surprised at how much we had cleared and we were very soon able to move on to the smaller meadow. By the end of the morning we had cleared all the piles in the meadows and met some young, potential volunteers so it was a very worthwhile morning.

Photos by Eleanor unless otherwise stated:

Young helpers from 2nd Abingdon Scouts.

Joan and Rosemary add to the heap.

New member Charles.

James at work.

Kevin and Carolyn fill a drag bag.

A loaded pitchfork.

Toadlet. Photo by Sally.

Margaret. Photo by Petra.

Photo by Michael Bloom.

Photo by David Guyoncourt.

Photo by David Guyoncourt.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Autumn 2018 Programme

Our new programme for Autumn 2018 has been published.  View below or click HERE to view/download a pdf version (opens in a new window).

Summer Picnic, Jarn Mound and Wild Garden, Boars Hill, 11th August 2018

We had our Green Gym summer picnic on Saturday with not a pair of loppers, saws or rakes in sight, although we were tempted to have a go at pulling the odd shoot of himalayan balsam!

As per the last few years we chose Jarn Mound as the venue. It is an Oxford Preservation Trust site at Boars Hill, one of our favourite work locations.

There were eighteen members attending, bringing with them a delicious selection of their mouth-watering home-cooked food. Definitely an excuse to have second or third helpings!

It seems to have become a tradition for us to build up an appetite by going for a short walk, to a well known spot looking out over the "Dreaming Spires of Oxford" made famous from a poem by Matthew Arnold. On this clear, fresh, sunny morning the view didn't disappoint.

We were well into our meal when we had the added enjoyment of the arrival of Kate with her daughter and her 6 month old twins Frankie and Eddie. They became the centre of attention, being passed around by everyone for a cuddle.

Our thanks to Carolyn for her efforts in organising the event. The great weather was an added bonus, ensuring that it was a most enjoyable picnic.

Rosie and Joan make a spirited lead.

Shady, sunken path, with glimpses of golden meadows beyond.

Cowboy Colin heading for the roundup!

Overlooking Oxford. Sign language by courtesy of Colin's hands!

The Signal Oak, which should have been the Signal Elm from the poem.
Colin manages to roundup and corralled the GG'ers for the album!

Heading back with an appetite!

The best part!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Caldecott School, 4th August 2018

This week we were at Caldecott Forest School to rake the cut grass and add it to the compost bins, under the direction of Marion Owen from Carbon Cutters, who looks after the site. We have been here in August for several years now.

There were sixteen of us, more than expected. Marion told us the tasks – raking up the cut grass and transporting it to the compost bins, pulling up the grass from around the young trees and shrubs and raking it from under the hedge.

We had to be careful as there was clearly a wasps’ nest in one of the bins. With sixteen of us working, the grass was raked up and stacked and the areas under the trees and bushes cleared by tea break time.

Marion had brought a delicious home baked courgette and walnut cake, which we all enjoyed. The work was finished, so we packed up early. This was probably a good thing as the temperature was creeping up above 30°C.

Trying to prop up a young tree.

Pulling up grass from around the trees.

Graham raking.

Tea break – Marion cuts up the cake.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Cothill Fen, 21st July 2018

We were a team of 11 for this sunny morning at Cothill Fen. We made our way from the meet point to site which is about a 10 minute walk in woodland.  After making base and having our intro talk from Judy Webb on what we were to be doing, most of the crew began by raking up and relocating cut material from the edge of the fen bordering parsonage moor, some started the task of moving logs from the south end of the fen up to the north east end to prepare for damming the ditch.  

While we raked and moved logs, local pond expert Rod D’Ayala arrived and started on the task of damming up the ditch that runs along the from north east to south east of the fen. This is to aid in filtering the water of contaminants from local farmland and redistributing cleaner water to dryer places in the fen that need to be made wetter. All this activity lasted until tea break – a welcome break where we were treated to cake!

After tea the next activity was to cut down growth on stumps from previously felled trees which fulfils a number of benefits – the main reason is to stop the stumps re-growing, it also allows easier strimming of the area later in the season.  The cut growth from the stumps was used to fill the ditch being dammed.

Ditch Damming was a big job and continued after our GG time was up although good progress was made. At 12:30pm we gathered our tools and made our way back to the meet point to disperse homeward for a well earned rest!