As we head into autumn we're getting bulbs in the ground for some spring cheeriness.
Nothing lifts the spirits like the first flowers of spring, and autumn is the time to get bulbs in the ground. We will plant bulbs in Marston this evening on the request of Marston Community Gardeners. This is the 2nd of 3 sessions we have planned for bulb planting this year - we’ll be quite the pros by the end of October! It'll be fun to revisit in the spring to check them out in flower - hopefully next year we won't be in lockdown and will actually be able to.
Some tools will be provided but bring your own gardening gloves, and if you are able to bring a trowel or bulb planter it would be a great help. As the evenings are drawing in I suggest hi-vis for runners if you have them, and headtorches would be helpful for everyone. I'll bring our portable lights and a couple of spare head torches.
* Anyone wishing to run to the task as a group please meet in the car park of the Richard Benson Hall, 276b Cowley Rd at 5:45pm. There will just be a running group this week as it is a little too far to get to Marston in time if we walk. There won’t be a bag drop available.
* If you would prefer to meet at the task please meet us at 6:15pm outside the CoOp on Old Marston Road.
ARK-T centre is a community-minded arts centre and the home of the Waste 2 Taste cafe. Along the side of the centre it has a playground space which is open for members of the public to use every day. Over the summer months the play space has been heavily used, and has also attracted some anti-social behaviour, so the space had to be closed for a couple of weeks to tidy-up. We've been called in by Ark-T a couple of times previously at this time of year to help get the play space ship-shape, so we're old hands at it now.
While 4 of us disappeared off to get extra tools and a wheelbarrow from the Waste2Taste garden all of the other GoodGymers got straight to work weeding, digging out mushrooms (best not to take risks on whether they're the poisonous kind or not!), clearing out the storage benches (SO much rotten wood and heaps of wellies inside), and pruning back the buddleia and willow which were eye-level hazards.
The litter picker team whizzed around the playground, along the lane and plogged the surrounding roads, striking gold early on with a bucket (repurposed for our garden waste) and an onion, as well as the usual cans and (literal) crap.
Back in the playground we rigged up our portable lights and deployed the head torches to keep going as the daylight faded. Leaves swept up, brown garden waste bin filled and several trugs of gardening detritus and plastic tubing were piled up ready for the skip which will be arriving soon.
I call that a highly effective hour's work - Great work dream team!
As the nights get darker we're moving over to tasks in well-lit areas. Tonight we will be heading to a task we've done a couple of times before at this time of year at the Ark-T Centre. The Ark-T Play space gets heavy use over the summer months, and when it gets to this time of year it's always in need of a tidy up. We will be weeding, pruning, sweeping and generally giving it a thorough autumn clear up.
We will have tools, portable lights and litter pickers, but if you have a head torch do bring it along. Gardening gloves will also be useful.
* Anyone wishing to run to the task as a group please meet in the car park of the Richard Benson Hall, 276b Cowley Rd at 6pm. There won’t be a bag drop available but we can use the toilets there. It's a little over a mile to Ark-T from there.
* If you would prefer to meet at the task please meet us at 6:15pm at the Ark-T Centre
Meadow Lane residents have formed a gardening group and are planning some guerrilla gardening along the edge of Meadow Lane Recreation Ground. Last night the GoodGym flash mob was called in to help clear the ground and get it closer to the point where it can be planted up.
Spreading out all along the lane we hauled out long grass, nettles, litter, burdock, and bindweed, tripping to and fro across the recreation ground with wheelbarrows to dispose of the detritus amongst the nettles on the Aston's Eyot side. A couple of frogs/toads were rehomed in a more peaceful spot (anyone know how to tell which is which?), and needles and glass carefully excavated and disposed of safely.
The residents had expected us to just clear one section, but with our bumper turnout we managed to do a MUCH longer section of the lane than they'd anticipated, almost joining up with the area near the playground which has already been beautifully planted up with cottage garden flowers.
We've received heartfelt thanks for our efforts: "Thank you so much for the amazing work you guys did on Meadow Lane tonight! It will make a beautiful public space for all to share."
Definitely one to watch in the spring - what will pop up in the new flowerbeds along Meadow Lane?
Welcome Shati - great to meet you!
Some residents of Meadow Lane have formed a gardening group and are planning to plant up a strip 1m wide along the edge of Meadow Lane Recreation Ground. They have asked for a GoodGym flash mob to help them prepare the ground by digging out the turf and weeds in preparation for planting. A strip by the playground has been started, and we will extend this.
Sunset is at 7:04pm, so we will want to get working quickly, but Meadow Lane is street lit, which will extend our digging time.
Wheelbarrows, forks and spades will be provided. You may prefer to bring your own gardening gloves, but they aren't completely necessary for this task.
* Anyone wishing to run or walk to the task as a group please meet in the car park of the Richard Benson Hall, 276b Cowley Rd at 6pm. There will be running and walking routes planned. There won’t be a bag drop available.
* If you would prefer to meet at the task please meet us on the corner of Jackdaw Lane and Meadow Lane at 6:10pm.
I am hoping to get a booking on the Roger Bannister Track for 7:45-8:15pm and will list that separately once it is confirmed.
South Ward Allotments is a 5 acre plot on the Southern edge of Oxford. After the 2nd World War the allotments here spread from the Old Abingdon Road all the way over to Hinksey, but unfortunately the site now has a teeny bit of an image problem: It's a little bit out of the way and with around 50% occupancy there are quite a few neglected plots gradually succumbing to bramble inundation.
Emma, who's one of the allotment committee, asked us to help get some of the vacant plots cleared of brambles to make them more appealling to potential gardeners, and so we donned our long sleeves and long trousers to tackle the thorny problem.
The light is a bit against us on evening tasks now, but with a hot air balloon floating above and some lovely evening sunshine we managed a full hour of lopping and detangling. We unearthed raspberry canes and a sweet pink swing in the process and were gifted yellow and green courgettes from an allotment tenant as a reward - what will you cook up with yours?! 1 allotment plot down, many more to go...the plot numbering goes to over 200 at South Ward!
Emma has asked if we could come back a few more times, and so we'll look at future dates to try and clear more plots, although they'll obviously need to be at weekends for the next few months.
The garden at the Highfield unit is looking WAY less bramble infested now after our regular work over the spring and summer. This last evening visit of the summer (and of the year!) was an opportunity for a good tidy-up before autumn sets in.
Weeding, raking, nettle pulling, and - of course - bramble lopping were the tasks of the night. We even found buried treasure as we unearthed some teeny tiny potatoes. We replanted them in hopes of a full crop next year.
Side note: only at GoodGym would the declaration "I found a potato!" receive the reply "What? another one?!".
Several of wheelbarrow loads of weeds and grass cuttings were removed, ideas discussed for perennials which might bring some colour to the planting next year, and we were all done before 7:30pm sunset.
We were grateful for water and juice from the ward staff - thank you!
Welcome back to Oxford Jessica L and congrats on your 10th Good Deed!
Well done on your 1st GoodGym Good Deed Jessica V.
A few of you will remember the task we did for Cherwell Larder at the South Ward Allotments - unearthing the allotment plot from under heaps of long grass and brambles. Well tonight we've been called back in, but this time by the person who manages the whole allotment site. We might be in time for blackberries - the silver lining to bramble lopping!
As we saw on our previous visit, the South Ward Allotments has quite a lot of brambles and nettles. They'd like our help in getting some areas less brambley. We'll make a start this evening, but as sunset is 7:20pm this Wednesday any subsequent sessions this year will be at weekends.
Let's see what we can do in an hour!
Please bring sturdy gardening gloves, and long trousers would be best for avoiding nettle stings and/or bramble scratches. (Is it even a GoodGym gardening task without some combination of those two?!)
* Anyone wishing to run to the task as a group please meet in the car park of the Richard Benson Hall, 276b Cowley Rd at 5:45pm. There will just be a running group this week as it is a little too far to get to South Hinksey in time if we walk. This will be a run of approx 2 miles. There won’t be a bag drop available.
* If you would prefer to meet at the task please meet us on the opposite side of the road from the Redbridge Household Waste Recycling Centre OX1 4XG at 6:05pm (glamorous, I know!), and we will walk the last stretch as a group. It is a 10 minute walk from there so we set off straight away and do the register on arrival at the allotments.
PLEASE NOTE: If you are making your own way to the task the entrance is off Old Abingdon Road. Postcode OX1 4XS. Please be careful not to go into the static caravan site at Redbridge Hollow, but take the track to your right before the caravan park entrance. Let me know by commenting if you are likely to arrive after the main group as there is a padlocked gate so I will need to pop out to let you in. Probably best to park at the Redbridge Park & Ride, which is a 10 minute walk away.
We've been helping regularly in the garden of the young person’s mental health unit, the Highfield. There is only one gardener for the whole of the Warneford Hospital site, so it is a difficult to keep it all looking as good as it could.
The Highfield Unit has a large fenced garden divided into 3 different sections, and a public area in front of the ward too. We will split into teams to work in the different sections. We'll be looking to get it ready for autumn, as this will be our last evening session here until the spring. Sunset is at 7:36pm this evening.
We plan to do some weekend sessions in the autumn and winter to plant bulbs and do preparatory work for spring.
Please bring gardening gloves. Other tools will be provided, but if you have a small pair of secateurs please bring them - we always need more tools for pruning at this task.
* Anyone wishing to run or walk to the task as a group please meet in the car park of the Richard Benson Hall, 276b Cowley Rd at 6pm. There will be running and walking routes planned. It's less than a mile to Warneford Hospital, but be warned that it's mostly up hill! There won’t be a bag drop available.
* If you would prefer to meet at the task please meet us on the lawn outside reception at Warneford Hospital at 6:15pm.