Welcome Spring  

We are all feeling a little more optimistic about 2021 now, with news that we can look forward to getting back to some sense of normality soon.

Regardless of the pandemic, nature continues unperturbed, and this month is all about yellow. 
A sign of hope, everywhere we look, its brilliance sings loudly, unashamedly heralding that our glorious spring has arrived.
Whether it's the roadside daffs, the blossoming acacia trees or our quieter ( but native ) lesser celandine, popping up near the hedges and waterways, with its carpet of brilliant stars. This first trumpet of colour is most welcome.

Please continue to use the sites for your daily constitutional or socialising, staying aware of current government guidelines. 
Being able to sit with a friend and share these beautiful landscapes is a real treat and very soon they will once again become the places to relax and fully enjoy as intended.

Willow Maze Installation

We are hopeful that work on the long awaited willow maze installation planned for Golden Hill County Park, will be underway by the end of March. All work will be compliant with Covid 19 regulations.

An event is being planned for Sunday April 25th and we will update you again nearer the time. Like everything all these plans are subject to any restrictions being in place. See below for more info.

Our social media pages are a great place to keep up with day to day news.


Sites Information 

We have lots of info about each of the sites on our website and you can still support us by purchasing one of our fab Trail Packs to help you explore them.
These beautifully illustrated guides will suggest interesting routes and contain information about the landscape and heritage, as well as some fun family activities. Ideal for keeping the younger ones outdoors and motivated.

These packs also come free as part of our Gift to Nature Supporter plan, so please consider getting more involved with our work by supporting us with a small monthly amount. 

We love to see what you find, so please share your thoughts and comments with us on social media or by email. 

Our rangers continue to work on all essential maintenance on the sites but 
as usual, if you notice anything that might need our attention please call us on 01983 296244 or email 

Ranger Blog - February 2021

Welcome to our February Blog.
It has been a challenging winter not least because of the lock down and the usual British weather. There are signs of spring however, with birds preparing to nest and the first spring flowers emerging. During one particularly mild winter I can remember lesser celandine in flower in a hedgerow close to home just before Christmas. From now onwards until April and May is their most prolific time. You can see these on many of the Gift To Nature sites often in damp, shady places. Another early flowering plant is the primrose that is just starting to show. Good displays of these can be seen at Sandown Community Orchard under the fruit trees and at Merstone Station on and around the old platform. At Merstone you will also see many cowslips that start flower slightly later, although their leaves are already in evidence.

Due to the lock down, we have greatly missed our volunteers. Edward and myself have either been working as a socially distanced pair or solo. It was very helpful and encouraging to have support from a reduced Green Gym in the autumn of 2020 to assist with meadow cutting and raking. Recently we have been cutting some of the meadow areas at Pig Leg Lane, Ryde in preparation for fresh spring growth. Other work has included cutting regrowth willow (one or two seasons) for use as material for sculpture building at Golden Hill Country Park. All being well, Eddie Glew and his team are preparing to start construction in March. We have collected material for this process from Sandown Community Orchard, Merstone Station, Pan Country Park and Afton Marsh.

Over winter we have had cows grazing at Nansen Hill and Brading Down. These have now been moved off and at Nansen we have been clearing some patches of bramble and Buddleia that without control will spread across the site. Buddleia is a useful garden plant but will spread profusely in natural habitats if the conditions are suitable, shading out the chalk downland plants and increasing leaf litter. A more mundane job has been to clear out a drainage ditch at Merstone Station. This was blocked with vegetation and silt and we undertook the job over three sessions and happy to say the water is flowing more freely now which helps to make the wading around in mud and silt worthwhile.
We thank you for your support, we hope you are keeping well and look forward to seeing you as the year progresses.


Site of the Month Quiz

This is a bit of fun to encourage you all to visit our biggest source of information - Our website !
Did you know that as we have been revamping our physical sites, we have always upgraded the webpages as well, where there are stories to tell these extend up to 6 pages per site, about nature, heritage and any unusual snippets of information we discover.

So try this little quiz and email us the answers to and every person sending  the correct set of answers will win a voucher to receive a free (preloved) book of your choice from our shop in Holyrood Street ( We hope to open our doors again on April 12th ) 

We suggest reading up on Dodnor Creek, Sandown Community Orchard, Golden Hill Country Park, Merstone Station, Brading Down, Pig Leg Lane, Nansen Hill and Pan Mill Meadows. to help.
Good luck !

  1. What is the main food for chalkhill blue butterflies on Brading Down ?
  2. Where was Sandy’s garden?  
  3. What did Matalan’s car park used to be ?
  4. What Gift to Nature site should be used for the recreation of the youth of England and Norway? 
  5. What happened to 4 ducks and a rabbit in 1889? 
  6. How did Clara Louise Pragnell die ?
  7. At what site would you start the Crouchers Circular walk or cycle?
  8. What did Freshwater Parish Council splash out £750 on in 1968? 


Golden Hill Country Park Update
 Work to Begin 

Like so many projects planned for 2020 the installation of our wonderful willow maze had to be postponed until everyone felt it was safe and appropriate to proceed.
We are now pleased the time is right to begin the work and we are expecting willow artist, Eddie Glew along with his team, to be on site from March 22nd.

Covid-19 rules and regulations will be adhered to throughout the build. If you have any questions about the works please do feel free to call us on 01983 296244.

The team on site will be very busy, and time and Covid-19 restrictions will make it not possible for them to answer enquiries on site, other than a cheery wave of course :)

Many people have worked very hard on the Golden Hill Country Park project and the feedback has been really positive. Once the final pieces are in place we hope to have a event on site to welcome the public back and give you all the chance to experience the revamped site. If appropriate to do so we hope to hold this event on Sunday 25th April adhering in full to the Covid 19 rules and regulations.

Golden Hill extends to 20 hectares of wood and parkland so we hope it will be possible to hold the open air event and maintain social distancing and adhere to the highest Covid-19 protocol. If it is not, the event will be postponed until later in the year.

We will send an update to you all as soon as we know but please continue to follow us on social media for more regular updates 

As part of the monitoring process of the project we would ask you for your own feedback by clicking on the link to complete a short survey here ; Golden Hill Country Park Survey


Mountbatten's Copper Beech; image created by Pete Johnstone 

The Gift to Nature Shop 

Shop News

The shop team are very excited that we can open again just in time for the busy Spring season.
Please come along and support your local countryside by discovering what's new in store for 2021 

Big fans of re-wilding, the Gift to Nature shop has two new ways for you to spread the wildflower love this year.


Seedballs make amazing gifts but also just a really convenient way of getting native wildflowers directly into the ground with little fuss! They are mini ecosystems, protecting your seeds from birds, ants and slugs and giving them nutrition as they germinate and grow.

Sitting alongside Seedballs will be the Sinesteisart range combining art and nature, these gorgeous packs will stimulate conversation as well as wildlife. 

Franchi Seeds 

A new delivery of the Chef range of seeds is now available in store and can be ordered from our website 


There has been a new delivery of our popular, UK made stoneware. As always we only ever have one of anything at any given time, so get in early if your are planning a focal piece for the garden this spring. 

Keep on Donating 

We are still accepting items for the shop preloved section. If you are having a clear-out, we would welcome your donations.
What are we looking for ? - Adult clothes and home decor items of saleable quality. Plants and garden pots, tools and any outdoor activity equipment. 

We are fit to bursting with books, cds and dvd's and we don't have the right audience for children's clothes or toys but other than that we are grateful for most things.

You can drop your donations to our office at
The Shide Meadows Centre, Shide Lane, Newport,  PO35 1HR
Between the hours of 10am - 1pm Mondays, Tuesday, and Thursdays, or call us to arrange on 01983 296244

Please follow us on our Facebook page to keep updated on news and any offers we are running each week.

Find us at 12 Holyrood Street Newport - Just opposite Hursts.


Dates for your Diary

Monday 22nd March - Work starts on willow maze at Golden Hill CP
Sunday April 25th - Golden Hill Country Park Lets Go Fly a Kite Picnic 

Do check out the Isle of Wight Natural Historical and Archaeological Society programme below. 

Though it was not possible to celebrate the Centenary of the IW Natural History & Archaeological Society as planned in 2020 with a special conference, we are now pleased to bring you a series of live webinars featuring an impressive line-up of speakers from the original billing to help us learn, understand and discuss how we can protect the Island's wildlife and landscape in an era of unprecedented environmental change.

Webinar Schedule & Themes

There will be a series of four live evening webinars, taking place twice a week over two weeks during the last week of March / first week of April 2021 via Zoom.

Each webinar will start at 7pm, last approx 1.5 hrs and feature 3 or 4 speakers followed by a plenary session for open discussion associated with each theme as follows:


Climatic Change: Past, Present and Future (7pm - Monday 29th March 2021)


Species Invasions: History & Horizon Scanning (7pm - Wednesday 31st March 2021)


Habitats & Species 1 (7pm - Monday 5th April 2021)


Habitats & Species 2 (7pm - Wednesday 7th April 2021)



We have invited local speakers and national experts with knowledge of the Island.

Keynote speakers include:

Prof. Juliet Brodie (Natural History Museum London, National University of Galway)

Clive Chatters (Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust)

Jonathan Cox (Jonathan Cox Associates Ltd.)

Dr Emilie Hardouin (Bournemouth University)

Prof. Stephen Hawkins, Southampton University (UK Marine Biological Association)

Prof. Helen Roy MBE (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford)

plus many more local expert speakers 

*Please note

Each webinar requires a separate booking

Tickets and more information available via Eventbrite here
The event is free of charge, however tickets must be booked in advance.


Support your local countryside when you shop online 

Please remember to use Easyfundraising every time you shop online! Over 4,000 shops and sites will donate, so you can raise FREE donations for us no matter what you’re buying. These donations really help us out, so please sign up if you haven’t yet. It’s easy and FREE! You can get started at

You can also choose Natural Enterprise as one of the charities to support via Amazon Smile 
Thank you for your continued interest in the Gift to Nature project. We are a charity and if you can help by making a small donation to our work it would be put to good use in the management of the 29 sites we look after for everyone to enjoy.
If you can help support us please visit our website for how to help

Gift to Nature is part of Natural Enterprise.
Registered charity number 1083233
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