Strictly speaking this isn’t a ‘doing something for wildlife, Day 24’ but more of a ‘one I prepared earlier’. However, this is something I’ve done for the wildlife currently living in my pond so that makes it completely relevant to now.
October 2013 saw the liner go down for a new wildlife pond. The water was left to settle and planting began in April 2014 with small plants bought online. I would have preferred to have bought more pond plants locally but they weren’t available. Opening the boxes of posted plants was very exciting! This was my first proper water garden :-)
The planting approach taken for this pond was much the same as any other garden border. I was looking for a mix of leaf shape and size plus the same with flowers too. As well as attracting new wildlife in the water, the hope was that flowers would attract a wider range of butterfly species too.
The cuckoo flower was planted especially to attract the Orange tip butterfly. Although I never saw it visit when it was in flower, I got a glimpse of a male back on May 23rd which was great! I was gardening without a camera at the time so no photo records yet.
Native plants were my first focus and that is where buying online really helped me in my selections. Not being a buyer of plants online, I didn’t know what quality of plants I’d get. I was very impressed with the plants and service of Puddleplants and would recommend them to anyone with a new pond to plant up. Their website has good photos and info which is helpful for a newbie water gardener :-)
Below is the full list of plant species I have introduced into my pond. Not all were purchased online and not all are native. The water Hyacinth was a surprise find at a favourite small nursery, I brought quite a few last summer to help cover the surface. I knew these wouldn’t be hardy but they looked great – quite prehistoric.
• Barred Horsetail (Equisetum japonica/um)
• Branched Bur-reed (Sparganium erectum)
• Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga)
• Common cotton grass (Eriophorum angustifolium)
• Cuckoo Flower/Lady's Smock (Cardamine pratensis)
• Curly waterweed (Elodea crispa)
• Duckweed (Lemna minuta)
• Fairy Fern (Azolla filicoides)
• Forget me not blue (Myosotis scorpoides)
• Frogbit (Hydrocharis)
• Hornwort (Ceratophyllum Dermersum)
• Lesser Spearwort (Ranunculus flammula)
• Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
• Penny Royal (Mentha pulegium)
• Rushes: Corkscrew Rush (Juncus effusus 'Spiralis')
• Rushes: Flowering Rush (Butomus umbellatus)
• Rushes: Slender Tufted-sedge (Carex acuta)
• Rushes: Soft Rush (Juncus effuses)
• Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus aquatilis)
• Water Hawthorn/Broad pondweed (Aponogeton distachyos)
• Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia craspies)
• Water Lily 'Marliacea Chromatella' (Nymphaea - Medium)
• Water Lily ‘Perry’s Baby Red’ (Nymphaea - Medium)
• Water Lily 'Pygmaea Alba' (Nymphaea - Dwarf)
• Water lily 'Shady Lady' (Nymphaea - Miniature Pink)
• Water soldier (Stratiotes Aloides)
• Yellow Flag Iris (Iris Pseudacorus)
• Yellow Monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus)
Yes, this is a long list and I’m aware that some thinning out (floating oxygenators) and repotting (pond baskets) will be required in the future. Again, that’s no different to any other garden border. I'm always thinning/dividing and moving plants around :-)
Scum over water surface – finally discovered caused by Woodpigeon bathing!
Garden forums often have questions about numbers and varieties of plants needed for the sizes of their new ponds. I can’t tell if I’ve got the right varieties or numbers or not, but I can say this year, we have a very clear pond so something must be working. It's looking pretty natural too which I'm thrilled about :-)
My pond size is 4.5m long x 3.2m wide, it is shallow on two sides and is no more than 60cm deep in the centre. There’s now a healthy centre planting (1.3m x 1m) of water lilies, curly waterweed, water hawthorn, water crowfoot and forget-me-not blue. Whirlgig beetles are seen bobbing their way through these plants regularly – a safe place for our current tadpoles perhaps too.
Some gardener’s will keep labels, notebook/phone lists of plants in their gardens. I do a mix of all. However, I do like to keep a note of plants that have ‘been and gone’ too just in case they return in the future.
From the list above, I hope to see the water soldier, cotton grass, frogbit and the flowering rush return – lost due to hardiness and birds pecking for the mud at nesting time. The fairy fern was removed when I realised it had the potential of taking over. The invasive duckweed (introduced from my small rockpool pond) was also removed – small bits still hide though ;-)
Large Red Damselflies, female laying eggs on leaves of forget-me-not blue :-)
A wealth of wildlife are currently playing hide and seek in the plants of my pond. I believed the balance would eventually come. I think the rest of the family believe now too as they are being seen standing at the grass edge, looking down, watching all the life that is thriving in this small pool of water. That’s another successful outcome :-)
This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in June 2016.