“Pond”erings

Water Lily just openingAs I am a novice at water gardening, I’d like to hear from anyone with a pond.

In a moment of creativity I made a mini bog garden out of an inverted plastic dustbin lid that had been kicking around for years. I dug out just enough turf and soil from a corner of the lawn and pierced the lid with an awl, feeling sure there was a better way to do it, but it was a thing of the moment – it had to be done! The lid was placed in the hole so that the edges wouldn’t be visible or damage the mower. The soil and upturned turfs were put back in the lid and left to break down.

Soon after, I was given an old pre-formed pond liner from a neighbour who had graduated from goldfish to koi! I didn’t feel up to digging a hole myself, so sat it on a gravel bed surrounded by containers of different heights – giving access to anyone who might care to live in it. The ‘bog-garden’ is near-by.

Frogs came – and went! I think because I’d had trouble getting the water right. It became so pungent that any amphibian would turn its warty nose up at it.

The water was actually the melted snow that had settled in it after the winter of 2010. I topped it up from other rainwater containers and from the mains and installed a selection of oxygenating plants and barley straw. I had received so much conflicting advice: from using assorted chemicals to just allowing the water to ‘right’ itself. I wanted it to be as natural as possible. I ‘de-sludged’ it twice, bailing the bilge, and scooping out as much gunge as possible– a horrible smelly job – so this year I have installed a proper pond pump/filter and used an organic compound intended to break down decayed matter. The water is lovely now and I can see to the bottom!
Water Lily in Pond
The reward is my water lily open for the first time today. I’d almost forgotten it was there and I had to look twice at the tight pointy-egg of a bud, and visit it several times a day as it slowly opened – a beautiful diving nymph showing her set-albumen tutu and egg-yolk underskirt.

When a new plant flowers for the first time I just have to greet it (a sign of madness?). Like little children, new blooms deserve praise and encouragement for good behaviour. Well done Lily!

I’ve added half a dozen shubunkins to the pond as company for the only one to survive the winter. They are such pretty fish: deep red-orange, silver and black. They already wait around eight AM in the same spot for me – or maybe for their food!

And, although I was talking to my ‘man-who-can’ about a scheme for inserting the pond into the ground and extending the bog garden, we both agreed that this part of the garden looks just as if it was planned.

Victoria

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A Night under the Stars

When I was small, we lived in a tiny hamlet near Moreton-in-Marsh, with no streetlights and no sounds except the occasional flight from the aerodrome, which is now the Fire Service College.

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Victoria’s Garden Buzz

Victoria's Veg Patch with Sprouting Broccoli

You should hear my garden, humming and buzzing with activity. You’d have thought our coldest April would have put paid to anything I’d planted early, but it’s as if nature simply went to sleep and woke up so fresh and revitalized that the herbaceous plants and vegetables are reaching double their usual height and you can almost watch them growing. How does your garden fare in this crazy weather?

What a difference a mow makes! After the cool spring rain the garden looked more like a meadow lush with daisies, buttercups and cowslips – it had been so long since it was cut. It was hard to see where the lawn ended and the borders began. Then, one hour with mower and strimmer, and it was a picture framed. Which garden task do you think makes the most difference, especially if you are short of time? Perhaps it’s weeding or pruning or hedge-cutting . . .

More rain! Never mind! The plants do so much better when nature waters them – somehow the rainwater penetrates plant and soil far more efficiently than a hose can. Plus, weeding is easier when the soil is wet and everything smells so nice. The downside? I can’t excuse myself from housework . . . although, there’s always something to do in the potting shed! How do you prioritise your time around your home or allotment?
Victoria's Veg Patch with Sprouting Broccoli
The purple sprouting broccoli lasted so much longer this year. It’s early June and I’ve just stopped picking it as it is in flower and will be too tough to eat – but just in time for the first broad beans. I have the baby pods whole and when the
first ones have set I pinch out the tops and eat those as greens – yummy stir-fry! I saw that one or two pea pods have set too. What spring vegetables do you look forward to most? How do you like them prepared?

Early last year in a bid to rid bindweed, I had my whole long border up. I divided and potted up perennials, put bulbs aside, pulled up as much of the pernicious root systems as I could and left them to wither and die! Then I dug in lots of my lovely garden compost and replanted. Last summer, the border looked glorious – this year even better – however, of course, the bindweed is back! Such is life. What is your worst weed? Have you managed to beat it?

Composting, I maintain, is a form of alchemy! Taking raw, base materials and turning them into black gold! I wonder who first thought of it – in primitive times, perhaps. My heap is six feet by three and growing as the garden matures.
Synergy, perhaps? I love the fact that the garden feeds itself and it’s a good place to put any slugs and snails I catch to help the process. Life, death, decay and life again: primordial recycling.

Victoria