Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Water in the garden

How would you convince someone, like Nan at Gardening Gone Wild, that they just couldn’t survive another growing season without water in the garden? Oh… I’m not talking rain water which she would dearly love! I am talking water features like ponds, waterfalls or container gardens.

Mm… yes, I have a tiny pond I could tell her about but first I’d much rather share some of the photos I have taken for reference over the years at shows and on walks. Here goes Nan - perhaps you might like to pour yourself a coffee and turn up your speakers as here are some of the reasons I love water in the garden!



Mm... what do you think - tempted to add water now?

Okay… I here you say ‘but ponds/pools require maintenance – are they worth the bother?’ True, they do need managed but when this is done correctly that isn’t so bad. The positive benefit to mood in the garden far less the value to wildlife, and the opportunities you will have to see it, outway any negatives.

The smallest water feature in my garden allows me to see birds bathing and drinking. It is a very simple large grey plastic plant pot saucer with some blue grey pebbles on the bottom. It is positioned on the ground under a small pine tree in a border with ground cover plants around it. This area is partially shaded and it doesn’t need topped up too much. I also have a free standing bird bath which you can see in the opening image of my Sept GBBD video. I love watching the raindrops break circles on its surface. Simple yet at the same time quite magical.

What nobody wants to see is the green pea soup water in a pond or pool. Through reading the posts for this Design Workshop you will know how important plants are in the water to keeping it clear. As Nan is in America and I am in Scotland I will let others give plant suggestions. However, I am guessing they will include some sort of oxygenating plants which would apply to any country.

A pump and perhaps a pond filter (in cases of large ponds with fish) helps keep the water clear. I have a small pump in my tiny pond but I switch it off during the winter. I know some people may remove the pump completely but I don’t know if that is necessary – maybe others do? Barley straw is another simple and natural way to help keep the water clear and is one of the suggestions that the RHS here in the UK suggests you might find their advice for algae in ponds interesting.

Choosing the best position for a pond is one of the first keys to its success. Generally speaking you should choose a sunny position away from overhanging trees. Of course that isn’t always where you have space for it. A small pond is likely to overheat in hot days and that causes algae problems so you should bear that in mind too. My pond is tiny and is in a mostly shady spot only getting early morning sun. I have wonderful mosses growing over the sandstone rocks I choose to edge it with.

The surface of your pond large or small should also be partially covered. The RHS suggests that you should ‘Aim to have at least one third of the pool's surface area covered with oxygenators or other aquatic plants. If you have fish or are considering adding fish to your pond it also suggests you should ‘Avoid over-stocking with fish, which produce nutrient-rich waste.’ All pretty sound advice I would say.

So what advice would I give? Well, throughout the year I’d regularly go fishin in my pond and I would recommend that for any invasive plants. Blanket weed, if I have a problem with that, I usually remove by twisting a cane round and round and pulling it up like candyfloss being made at the Fair. However, at the moment the leaves are about to fall of the trees. Windy days are more common and even without and overhanging trees you could get leaves blown into your pond. I try to remove as many out as possible but I do get a clue if any are still there by the oily surface on the top of my pond. Oh yes... and would regularly top up my bird baths with fresh water.

Finally, if you are still in doubt about adding a pond/water to your garden I’ve links two more of my back posts for those who may have missed them. They show the wildlife I discovered on a visit to a nature reserve in the summer and the unlikely wildlife couples I saw when doing my own pond watching during the evening. Oh yes… ponds have interest at night too!

Sorry, there are lots of links in this posting but water in the garden is a huge subject and I have only made ripples in it. Sorry couldn’t resist that! So what do you think Nan? Have I convinced you, or anyone else, that water is just great to have in the garden and well worth any efforts to look after it?

The photos in the video slide show above were taken in the last 8 years.

18 comments:

garden girl said...

Very nice video Shirl!

I love water in the garden! A pond would be lovely here, but for now our birdbath and swale attract many garden visitors.

I like the variety of water feature styles you show in the video. There are so many beautiful ways to add water to the garden.

nancybond said...

What a great video, Shirl -- your voice is well suited to voice-overs! When I have the space, I will definitely have a water feature in my garden. I have it pictured in my mind, a composite of many that I've discovered while cruising through Blotanical.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi Shirl,

Lovely vid of gorgeous ponds.

You don't have to convince me about getting a pond in my garden. I had one in my old garden and miss it very much.

We had hoped to built a pond in September but due to all the bad weather that didn't happen. Guess I'll have to wait till next spring for my pond. Til then I'll make do with my birdbath. ;-)

Cheryl said...

Hi Shirl.....you are so right ponds are a wonderful addition to any garden......especially for wildlife...

We added an ornamental pond this year....8 foot x 8 foot......I have put water mint....dwarf rushes....water hawthorn etc etc.....I have been amazed to see young frogs, diving beetles and other creatures that I don't recognise.....

The only disadvantage as far as I am concerned is that it is the biggest time waster going. I walk into the garden and head straight for the pond........half an hour later I pull myself together and set about the tasks I should be doing..........

Joe said...

Hi Shirl,

Great video. You may already know that I plan to get a water feature and a pond in the future. The noise of water trickling is so relaxing!

I already have a popular bird bath. I don't think that the management of a water feature is as bad as people say it is. There were some great contrasting water features in that video.

Best wishes, Joe

perennialgardener said...

Wonderful video Shirl! Your photos & narration have convinced me to have more water in my garden.

shirl said...

Hi again Garden girl, Nancy, Yolanda, Cheryl, Joe and Racquel :-)


Garden girl – Thank-you! Yes, I remember you saying you would love to have space for a pond. As you have said you can still get visitors to the small amount of water you do have! Ah yes… I have been looking out photos since the beginning of the month for this. I do have a wide mixture and it was difficult deciding which ones to use. I thought this was too many for one post so I abandoned my first draft and went the video route instead. Yes I agree :-D

Nancy – Thank-you! I am trying to find the best way to do them – its all a bit new yet. My youngest daughter (now a teenager) loves hearing my voice in the videos – she says it reminds her of me reading her bedtime stories when she was little. That does make me smile. That is the great thing about garden blogs with photos - we are able to get so many ideas from real gardens. I look forward to seeing what you do when you have space :-D

Yolanda – Glad you liked it :-D Yes, I remember you telling me when we walked around the Botanics in Edin. I did wonder if it would be your next project after your long border! I’m sure it will be worth the wait :-D

Cheryl – Lol…. Yes I can understand that quite easily! I could sit and watch the bubbles on ours spin and pop for hours ;-D Yes, it is amazing that the beetles etc find the ponds – how do they do it when there is no other water around? Good list of plants – I have duck weed ;-D

Joe – Thank-you and yes I did remember ;-) I was already planning this post when you mentioned your plans so I hoped you might get some ideas with this one. If you already have birds enjoying your bird bath I am sure you will get plenty of other wildlife with a pond too. Ah yes… I deliberately choose as much contrast in my final selection of images – I had more. Have fun with building your pond :-D

Racquel – Thank-you! I am delighted to hear that. I really hoped I would convince someone :-D

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Wow Shirl, I love all those ponds that you have on the video. I also love hearing your voice. You have such a soothing voice, much like the ponds you showed.

I don't need convincing as to the necessity of a pond, I just need an appropriate placement.

I so enjoy all the pictures and video of the wildlife at your pond.

Carolyn gail said...

Wonderful video Shirl. A garden without water is like a day without sunshine to me. Just to see it, hear it and see the life going on there makes me happy.

Barbara said...

I agree with you, water is an important element and should belong to every garden...it makes it complete! I love to sit near the pond, relax and watch what is going on with all the animals visiting it..BTW, thanks for the hint to Joe's blog in your last post!

shirl said...

Hi again Lisa, Carolyn Gail and Barbara :-)

Lisa – Good, I tried to give a variety of styles. Thanks, this is my third voice over – I tried it out for my Bloom Day videos too. The reality is that my Scottish accent is actually quite fast especially when I am enthusiastically chatting - ask Yolanda! I thought when your large pine tree came down you might have more space for a pond. I am delighted that you have enjoyed mine. BTW I noticed on a comment of yours on Mike’s blog that you like the pink footed geese. They are starting to arrive to a loch near me and are numbering in their thousands now. The schools are off on hols for the next two weeks – I’ll try and get round there and get some video for you :-D

Carolyn Gail - Thank-you, how nice to have you visit again. I completely hear what you are saying. With the wildlife and birds that use mine I too cannot imagine a garden without one. I have always adored the reflection of water and would love to have a ‘proper’ wildlife pond one day – no space here at the moment :-D

Barbara - Glad you liked the link to Joe’s blog, I was hoping he would get lots of new visitors :-) Yes, there is just something so ‘deep’ about water in the garden. I agree it does complete it :-D

Layanee said...

Great video! Nan does need to have water in the garden and I believe that this may have convinced her.

Gail said...

I loved the video and the post. This gardener needs to get water in her garden...the birdbath isn't enough! With the droughts we continue to experience the critters need more water.

Gail

Nan Ondra said...

Yes, yes, you've convinced me, Shirl! I apologize for the delay in responding; it took my computer a while to show me the entire presentation, but it was worth waiting for. How could anyone resist such a splendid multi-media masterpiece, complete with your voice for the extra-special personal touch? All of the photos were beautiful, but the very last one particularly spoke to me, so I'm thinking something like that is on my to-do list for next spring. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this together!

shirl said...

Hi again Layanne, Gail & Nan :-)

Layanne – Thank-you! Yes, I think I have :-D

Gail – Excellent! I agree completely and looking at the next comment I do think I convinced her :-D

Nan – Oh… I am delighted that you finally managed to view my video. I was wondering what you thought. I do appreciate that this file was larger than usual and the more components I add to the vids the larger the file becomes and I was concerned that some people could have probs with it. Excellent – a result! I think that is a good choice too. You are most welcome! I thoroughly enjoyed doing it and knew one day these photos would come in handy. I have loads of photos BTW :-D

lotusleaf said...

Thanks for a very informative post.
The pictures are lovely.

Katarina said...

A very informative and highly inspirational post! Thanks!

shirl said...

Hi again lousleaf & Katarina, thanks for dropping by this older post :-)

I’m delighted you both enjoyed it. I loved looking back on it myself although still not sure about adding my voice to the images. It was an experiment at the time.

Looking forward to joining you both on odd Fridays in the future :-D