June Newsletter

June sees the team flat out looking after the sites and delivering this year's planned improvements.
Merstone Station is looking great and well worth a visit. See below for an update on what's been going on.
All of the sites really are looking their best as the Spring blossum bursts forth with a fresh radiance thats hard to beat, even by the heady colour and scents of summer to come.

Wildlife is as frenetic as the team and quite easy to spot if you take some time to sit and watch their world in action.
It's also a great time to enjoy the wildflowers and Pig Leg Lane in Ryde is blessed with many common spotted orchids at this time of year as well as swathes of campion and wild mignonette across Brading Down to enjoy

Meet us at The Royal Isle of Wight County Show
If you would like to meet the team and find out more about our work, do come and say hello at this year's Royal Isle of Wight County Show, where we will be under the small circus tent with the Isle of Wight College Horticultural team, on the Village Green area. We will be launching our new Countryside Code campaign, about how to get the most out of your outdoor adventures, plus lots of information on our recent projects  and of course lovely plants and garden ornaments from our Holyrood Street shop to tempt you.

Hope to see you there !


Site of the month - Rew Down

Rew Down is one of our lesser known nature reserves. There are always wonderful views from the site, down to the coast, as far as the downs above Niton to the west and over to St Boniface Down in the east. 

The early gentian can be found here and usually flowers during May and June, it is a nationally rare species and Rew Down was the site of the first British record (1883). It likes chalky grassland with south-facing slopes and low vegetation cover, so this site is ideal for it.

Pyramidal orchids will appear in late June and early July. They also like chalk, and will be seen at a number of our sites. This is appropriate as they are the County Flower of the Isle of Wight.

More recently, populations of the adonis blue butterfly have been seen at Rew Down. The adonis is the most striking of the blue butterflies. It was once on the endangered species list but it is now making a good recovery thanks to favourable management of the species rich chalk downland habitat it needs to survive.

Rew Down can be reached from the top by taking the road to the golf course (Steephill Down Road) or from entrances along Whitwell Road.


Ranger's Blog


This month started very dry on all of our sites and the usual spring flush of grass and vegetation growth had not really appeared. However the end of May and early June has made up for it in part with some spells of heavy rain. Consequently, the vegetation has responded with strong growth on most of the sites so we have been cutting paths and grass areas whenever possible. 

We ran a number of Walking Festival Walks including Edward’s Castle Copse Walk and Carol at the Mummies Caves, Dodnor. I led a walk from Merstone Station to Birchmore Pond and back via a slightly different route. This was attended by nine walkers some from the Island, the mainland and even two holiday makers from America so it was a privilege to be able to show some of our wonderful countryside here on the Island. 

The team have been busy at Merstone Station and there are now two new benches, noticeboard, chalkboard, information lectern and railway shelter with historical information displayed. Last week we collected the old Merstone Station sign that is part sign, part sculpture and reinstalled it on the platform. This has had a new post fitted together with an owl carving kindly created by local chainsaw sculptor, Paul Sivell. 

Other work this month has included repairing a hand rail at Pig Leg lane and whilst there enjoying the display of many common spotted orchids across much of the site. Often when you find these orchids you can get large amounts in a fairly small part of an area but Pig Leg is a bit different in that the orchids can be found almost anywhere in the open grass areas. As a matter of interest, many years ago I was working on a mainland project fairly similar to Pig Leg and there were a couple of big displays there and I found one orchid that was 1.1m tall. That’s 3 foot 7 inches approximately, almost a tree! 

Yesterday we had a tree contractor remove a large dead willow at Afton Marsh. This tree was looking unwell last summer and we had to remove one large limb that was growing over a path. We decided to leave it over winter to see if it recovered in the spring. Unfortunately there were no signs of life and due to its location, for safety reasons, it had to be taken down. Later in the month we have the County Show on the 30 June where we will have a Gift To Nature stand and we will still be cutting grass at every opportunity.

Merstone Station wonderful display of wildflowers
Common spotted orchid at Pig Leg lane

Shop News  
Supporting Local

After holding back on plant stocks through the Spring due to the extremely changeable weather, we’ve now got a range of lovely bedding plants in, including petunias, lobelies, busy lizzies, geraniums and begonias. They will all add colour to your flower beds or hanging baskets. There is also a small range of vegetable plants and even some ‘bottle brush’ plants that the bees love. 

In keeping with us now ignoring what the weather is throwing at us, we also have a new range of jute and cotton tote bags that are handy for shopping, but will also be perfect for those much needed trips to the beach when the sun does come out! 

We’re delighted to be stocking 3kg bags of local charcoal too, from Isle of Wight Woodland Products, and made from sustainable Isle of Wight woodland. BarBQ anyone...?

You can find our shop at 12 Holyrood Street Newport – just opposite Hursts.

we are always looking for volunteers to  join us in us in our lovely friendly shop so If you have a few hours to spare why not  pop in and have a chat 


Update on Merstone Station 

Visitors to the our Merstone  Station site have been giving us some wonderful feedback on the progress of the site improvements. With the new shelter, picnic bench and the refurbished, original sign now all in situ, we are close to completing the project.

The site is a little wildlife oasis along the National Cycle Network route 23 and a great place to stop for a picnic, especially now we have another table and bench in place,  beautifully carved by local wood carver Paul Sivell, also responsible for the infamous Arreton Hares.

We will bring you a full update on works shortly but in the meantime here are a few pics from the site.
Do try to visit, and let us know what you think. We like  to hear your comments and see your pics, which we love to share on our social media pages. 

Meet us in the Garden

We are delighted to have been asked to support one of the Open Gardens again this year
That Garden in Cowes is an exotic oasis with some really unusual plants and a totally Mediterranean vibe. All plant sales will go to supporting Gift to Nature and the owner Andrea, grows on some of her special specimens so really worth the trip to get something different.
Join us on Sunday 14th July at 324 Cowes Rd 

Help us by Becoming a Gift to Nature Supporter

Did you know you can become an official Gift to nature Supporter and receive our wonderful Trail pack as a thank you when you sign upp?
for as little as £3 per month you can help ensure the sites continue to be well looked after and free for all to enjoy into the future. it helps us implove the areas and raise our profile to make others aware of these wonderful local assets.
for more info on the benefits of becoming a supporter and how to register please head over to our website


Thank You 

More Gift to Nature news for you next month, so why not forward this one to a friend? New subscribers always make us happy!

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Gift to Nature · Shide Meadows Centre · Shide Road · NEWPORT, Isle Of Wight PO30 1HR · United Kingdom

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