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Isle of Wight Green Gym - Official Blog.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wed 21 June 2017 - Arreton Down SSSI. GG # 690.

A small select group of us gathered at the parking area adjacent to Arreton Down and armed ourselves with ragforks and black sacks and then sallied forth onto the downs to search for ragwort.  Sunhats, sun blocker and long sleeves were the accessories of the day as the temperature was expected to soar – and it did; it was a beautiful day with a breeze to make it all bearable.  There were many species of butterfly in evidence and a wide variety of wild flowers in bloom.  The ragwort was spread sparsely over the downs, but a fair quantity had been pulled by the end of the session.

Just had a look at our visit to Arreton Down 22/6/16 (see link Wed 22nd Jun 2016 - Arreton Down SSSI. GG # 640. ) – the weather couldn’t have been more different – we were wearing coats and coping with misty rain and poor visibility – today it was scorchio!

Many thanks to Alison for the editorial and photographs this week.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wed 14th June 2017 - The IoW Donkey Sanctuary, Wroxall. GG # 689.

Our hunt for Himalayan Balsam started again this year at the Donkey Sanctuary, and this year in the main it was more of a hunt.  The plant, where it had been rampant in previous years, was now dotted sporadically along the stream's banks. It was however more numerous in patches where winter clearance of thorn scrub had revealed former refuge of plants and seed. Well refuge no more as we soon pulled and cleared these.

Many thanks to Mark for contributing the photographs and editorial this week.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wed 7th Jun 2017 - Brading Downs, Brading. GG # 688.

Mark's Photographs.

Because of a hiccup with our schedule, this Wednesday morning found Team GG on Brading Downs rather than at Wroxall (Old) Station. Frequent visitors to this blog site will know that a visit to the Downs at this time of the year can only mean one thing…..Ragwort pulling…! We were met by Nick from G2N who was happy to issue everyone with a ragwort lifting fork and a black bin bag before letting us loose on the down. One of the hardest aspects of this job is trying to identify exactly which type of ragwort you are dealing with - the "bad" type has a purple coloured stem where the "good" type has a green one. Once you (eventually) get your eye in then it can be seen that the two variants have a different leaf profile but this is quite hard to identify initially. Because the car park here gives wonderful views across the southern aspects of the Island, it is frequently visited by coaches full of mainland visitors who appear quite amused by our antics. I often wonder if they go back to their friends and family reporting that the locals on the IoW are so keen on gardening that they weed the hillsides…! The recent rain showers we have been experiencing held off but there was a rather stiff SE wind blowing. By the end of the session Nick's trailer was quite full of our pickings which should (hopefully) help to reduce the number of plants we have to pull later in the year. One PPP (Pesky Plant Pulling) session down but many more to come in 2017.

Why do we put so much effort in trying to pull all this ragwort? Have a look at this link - Ragwort/RHS Gardening

A note from Mark.

A fine time on Brading Down LNR last week collecting up the Ragwort plants. We've been pulling Ragwort every June since 2004, sometimes twice in the month.  Some of us will remember the huge trailer loads we used to collect, less these days.  The reason of course is to support the conservation work, namely the grazing by cattle which takes place on the Downs over the winter months. 

Many thanks to Mark this week for taking and submitting the photographs.

Photographs will be added as they arrive.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wed 31st May 2017 - Bodster Equine Assisted Learning CIC, Sandford. GG # 687.

Terry's Photographs.

Gizmo…. before he got very dirty!

Grab the tools and

off to see what we are working on.

A rather bland planter.

Placing out the plants prior to planting.

Tackling a huge pile of discarded fencing materials.

What this place is all about…!

Tea break and Merlin hopes for a biscuit.

Dragging the old fencing away.

What a difference…!

The area after clearance.

What a difference.

Ragwort pulling - first of the year (lots more to come!)

A cinnabar moth.

It was only the start of this month when we had our first visit to this wonderful venue. This time we were to continue some of the jobs that we had started before - working on the sensory garden removing a huge pile of old fencing material and trying to reduce the ragwort in the paddock. The main task was to finish off the sensory garden area that we had helped to form on our last visit. There were many wheel barrows full of new plants for us to position before digging them in (see above). Part of the team tackled a rather large pile of discarded fencing material, consisting of tangled wire fencing, wooden posts and barbed wire. This had to be cut apart and then transported up to the barn area. The paddock area had a considerable amour of new growth rag work growing across it so… Team GG decided to try and tackle it (the first of the year…. much more to come I suspect!) As per usual, Terry's excellent photographs beautifully demonstrate what we achieved under that beautiful blue, sunny sky. Many thanks to our hosts for letting us use the classroom facilities for the tea break.

A message from Mark…..

Hi Everyone,

As mentioned last Wednesday we've had a cancellation from Shademakers for this coming Wednesday.  They have had last minute notice from their neighbours that they are removing the wall which would have been damaged in last year's fire and Sandy and Sharon sensibly consider that our being there would be potentially difficult for both parties.  I'm hoping we can arrange a date in the summer to return to Shademakers.

For this week however we will be heading up to Brading Down for some Ragwort pulling. Long sleeves advised. Aim for the big car park where the ice cream van usually parks and we'll adjust from there.

We had a lovely thank you email from Bodster Equine, expressing their appreciation for all of the hard work everyone put in over the 2 sessions. They promise to look after the plants we planted for them last week.

See you soon.

And……some photographs from Giles.