Planners permitting (!) there’s going to be a fair amount of water knocking about around our new house, and I couldn’t wait to get started with the three mini-ponds (around 1.5m across) we wanted which don’t need permission. I think it was Pond Conservation’s recent pond digging day that got me charging out into the field armed with my spade before the recent rain. Regular readers of this blog will know I just LOVE ponds – their look, their flora and fauna- they’re fascinating, and I have no idea why everyone doesn’t have one. They’re so easy to make too; I had my three mini-ponds done and dusted in an afternoon. We’re lucky because we’re on solid clay, so I didn’t even have to line one of them.
So far as I understand there are a few golden rules to my sort of pond:
1. Don’t dig them too deep. The one without the liner I’ve dug down to about 1/2 metre at its deepest because the top 20cm of soil won’t hold water.
2. Don’t fill them with tap water.
3. No fish – they’ll eat everything.
4. Be careful what and how you plant. I will only plant natives in my ponds, and very selectively – i.e. nothing that’s going to take over. A purist would say wait until the local flora blows in, but I’m an impatient type and like to have some control over how the pond will look – I’ve got my favourite plants. The aquatic and marginal plants we sell on the website are widely distributed throughout the UK, so you can’t go wrong with them. I also include a boggy area in any pond I dig, which enables me to include plants like Ragged Robin – some of the most beautiful wildflowers we have enjoy the wet. People seem to get in to a pickle when trying to plant on a liner. I don’t like pots, so either chuck in some subsoil to use as a growing medium (i.e. nothing nutrient rich), which covers the liner too, or for bigger ponds you could use our pre-planted coir mats. Having seen Bentomat used for larger pond projects I’d swear by it rather than using a more traditional liner, by the way. One of the reasons I like it so much is that it is so easy to plant on.
For a better guide please look at the Freshwater Habitats Trust site, which also offers advice on pond problems. It will also help explain what the mini-beasts are which mysteriously start to arrive in your mini-pond within hours of the first rain falling…

Ponds to the People

Bentomat Liner
We Paid For This?

Today was the day of our first course – making a large scale wildlife pond. We were a class of 10, with Professor Hugh, from Environments for People, Rob the Plant from Salix Rivers and Wetlands and, of course, Hugh the Slew in charge of the machinery. The dogs thought it was brilliant and we’ve ended up with a state of the art pond, thanks in no small part to the muscle power of the paying punters. Although I was dashing about I learnt a huge amount, and I can’t wait to get involved in some water projects. The quality of our partners in this area means we should be absolutely spanking at it. I’ll post more pictures here and on the photo gallery as the pond fills up so I can get our beautiful plants in and it looks more interesting than a hole in the ground. Whatever Parsley thinks it’s quite an impressive hole in the ground at its deep end, mind you, and its apex will be a really nice boggy area.

Pond digging
Parsley is unimpressed by Hugh the Slew
Lining the Pond
…but we think he\’s great
Deep thought
Roger and Hugh help the Prof. with the overflow
Wildlife Pond
Ready for Rain