Ruth takes delivery of aquatic plants and looks back over the first year of pond life

In April 2019 we dug a small wildlife pond in the garden. I say small, and it is small, and one large Koi carp would probably fill it, but it was blinking hard work to dig because our garden is on a thick layer of chalk.

So after all that backbreaking work it is a joy and a relief to see that the pond has become a thriving microcosm of garden wildlife in general.

Digging the pond was hard physical work!

For sure, the newts and frogs have yet to make an appearance, but many other species have been putting the watery facilities to good use. The pond is teeming with strange wriggly invertebrates, skaters and water beetles of all sizes including the large ones that paddle up from the depths and stick their bottoms out of the water to take on oxygen before scurrying back down again.

The pond is teeming with small aquatic life

This spring has seen countless birds dropping in to drink and collect greenery and mud for their nests and judging by the number of droppings littering the flagstones we laid around its edges, hedgehogs are regular visitors too.

Another fascinating aspect has been watching the water levels rise and fall. During the wet winter it was almost overflowing its banks but once the torrents stopped the levels dropped fast and significantly.  We feared a leak but then had an epiphany.

The pond is settling in well and fitting with the overall ‘pro-nature’ look of the garden

When the water was at its deepest in early spring we placed a short wooden plank into the pond to help any hedgehogs get out if they fell in.

Turns out the plank was absorbing lots of water, which then evaporated in the heat leading to the water drop. The level is now low enough to allow hedgehogs to scramble out via a shelf of stones, so we removed the plank and the water depth has stabilised.

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Our pond is situated in the lawn, away from overhanging trees. It gets sun for much of the day but is sheltered from the worst of the wind.

When we first dug it we added several pond plants but this week, to great excitement, a new batch arrived including a deep-water lily which will start off on a pile of submerged bricks until it grows more and can be lowered to the bottom of the pond.

Placing the plants, especially the deep-water ones, can be a precarious business!

We also welcomed several marginal plants including Mysotis palaustris (water forget me not), water speedwell, Caltha palustris (marsh marigold), Iris pseudacorus, Lythrum salicaria (loostrife) and Eriophorum angustifolium (cottongrass).

Setting the yellow iris at the edge of the pond

These have been placed on a shelf running right around the edge of the pond where conditions vary from wet to boggy, which is what these plants like best.

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A few tubs of oxygenators such as Hornwort (Ceratophyllum dermersum) and Milfoil arrived too, and started bubbling away almost as soon as they were cast into the waters.

It is still early days for the new plants, but hopefully they will thrive and spread and invite in even more life. I will keep you updated!

Oxygenators are thrown into the pond, where they sink and get to work

  • If you are desperate to have a pond in your garden I wouldn’t start digging one now as the ground will be hardening and the conditions drier going into summer. Spring or autumn are the best seasons, when it will fill naturally with rainwater and have time to bed in before summer.

 

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Although many people are coping well with self-isolation, others are really struggling and feeling completely forgotten and alone.

Here at AG we are doing our best to keep connected to our readers though the magazine, this website and also through social media.

Our gardening ‘agony uncle’ John Negus is also still working hard. Send him your problems and questions, with pictures if you can, and he will get back to you with an answer withing 24 hours, as he has been doing for decades. Contact him using the AG email address at: amateurgardening@ti-media.com

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