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We often take our friends for a walk from Nettlebed to the best bluebell wood in the area, but today I had the great pleasure of helping to tend it. The bluebells were already starting to flower and there were wood anemones out too. We were celebrating GG’s 17th birthday in suitable fashion by holly “bashing”, which means lopping, sawing and stacking. Prizes should have been awarded to all those, like Barry, who managed to get out the whole plant complete with roots. Tony Chandler set the example by creating a wonderful hedge of the lopped holly branches and even joked that we should be clipping it. There were about 14 of us including, Nick Odell all the way from Dorset. Yummy bread pudding from Diane sustained us during the second half of the morning. Thank you to all leaders for such a lovely morning.
Greys Court – green birthday party
It is now 17 years since we were set up in 1998, so we celebrated the anniversary during our coffee break at Greys Court, where our task was to clear and burn brambles in the bluebell wood across the field from the house. The bluebells were not yet in flower, but there were signs of them coming out soon.
We have been gradually removing brambles and other scrub from a fence line at Aston Rowant, and we got a lot more done in our April session. The sun was shining and birds were singing, and we had great fun with the vertiginous slope, making sure we didn’t approach the bonfire from above.
A record turnout with 18 of us working on Nettlebed Common this morning, one group clearing back overgrown bushes and trees near to the pavilion whilst the rest of us laboured to remove brambles from the Priest Hill area of heather. The rain held off. Delicious cake as always from Diane
Our tasks for the March session at Moorend Common included cutting back the side growth from footpaths and a bridle path and coppicing overgrown hazel stools.
Many tasks to tackle in all corners of the water meadow for our late March visit: clearing the brash from a large felled tree in the drove road; making stakes from pollarded willows and burning the brash; cutting up the heavy ivy from a fallen tree; and repairing the stockade by the Thames with willow stakes. Hard hats must be worn when driving in the stakes with the mell.
Really spring-like weather for our 7th March session at Ewelme watercress beds, where we had several sightings of a kingfisher. There was watercress to clear, of course, each side of a dam below the bridge, but we also reduced two clumps of bulrushes which were getting too big for their boots. Lots of wheelbarrowing from the bankside to the compost heap, and more barrowing of scrapings from the verge at the path entrance in preparation for the laying of reinforcing materials.
Today 15 of us were back at Nuffield Place clearing the invasive holly from the woodland As the property is now open to the public for the new season we were not able to have a bonfire but had to drag all the cut materials over to the fire site -heavy work but good exercise. A good session which was greatly appreciated by the gardener
Brian, 5 March 2015
A few days ago, Green Gym went to help Charlotte on her water-meadow in Goring. It was looking wonderful and it is inspiring to see how much has been achieved over the past four years. While Green Gym isn’t the only group to work there, it is gratifying to know that we have helped establish this unique wildlife environment.
This time, there were a dozen of us so we split into 4 groups: one group managed the bonfire, gathering and burning the brash from recent tree coppicing; a couple of the men built a hand-rail over a footbridge; some people cleared the ancient drove road that leads down to the river and the four of us in my group dismantled and rebuilt the stockade fence along the footpath. We sawed uprights which were hammered into the ground with a foot between them, fore and aft, which created a channel into which we placed logs and loose material. It looked pretty good when we finished, confirmed by the appreciative comments we got from passersby walking the Thames Path. Although there was a light drizzle, we were warm enough to take off one layer of clothing. The coffee was welcome after our efforts and the cake was really delicious.
Lovely to walk back to the car knowing that we had had a work-out that was productive, helpful and appreciated.
Sheelagh and Chris, 5 March 2015
Good fun at Withymead at the end of February, where there was a large amount of sycamore and willow brash to burn on the fire site. Others tasks included dismantling a gate in order to replace it with a wider gate and winching out some vastly overgrown laurels which were shading the new pet remembrance garden. Swathes of snowdrops everywhere.