A pond or water feature can add liveliness to even the drabbest of backyards. No, I am not promoting a garden makeover, but thought I’d share something of the enjoyment I get from our garden pond, not least because a variety of wildlife get to enjoy it too.
About 15 years ago, we dug – or more accurately my spouse dug – our pond from scratch. We were first motivated to put in a pond to provide a wildlife-friendly water source and also because a water garden can, rather paradoxically, add both vitality and tranquillity. There are good reasons why ponds and fountains have a long history in elaborate formal gardens, in public spaces and in small family gardens too.
Water is a precious resource, and we are fortunate in that we have been able to install water tanks to collect and store rainwater from the roof gutters, and we also divert rainwater from a downpipe to top up the pond directly. So our pond is topped up every time there is a shower of rain, and we can also top it up using the rainwater stored in our tanks.
One of the first pleasures of a pond is that you get to grow native aquatic plants. (Please say no to invasive alien water plants that can choke up our waterways!) This small indigenous yellow water lily, Nymphoides thunbergiana, is particularly suited to small ponds or water features, but unfortunately it can be hard to find, with few nurseries stocking it
In addition to the water plants you can grow in submerged pots, there are many plants that look good at the edges of ponds or nearby a water features, such as this Yellow Wild Iris, Dietes bicolor
You know that your pond is healthy when frogs arrive to make use of it, such as this pair of breeding Guttural Toads, Amietophrynus gutturalis. Usually mating pairs lay their eggs during the night, but early one morning I found this pair in our pond laying their long double strands of eggs
For several years we had Banded Tilapia in our pond. Initially we thought these attractive fish would eat mosquito larvae (which they did) but they bred so prolifically that we ended up with over 200 fish in a small space. What we decided to do will be the subject of a future post!
Accustomed to using the bird baths, it took time for the garden birds to start using the pond, which now has many bird visitors every day. The pond has a safe approach to a shallow end where birds can both drink and bathe. This Cape Robin enjoys its bathing sessions in the garden pond
Hadeda Ibises are common visitors to gardens, using their long bills to probe for worms and other creatures in suburban lawns. Many bird baths are too small to allow such large birds to bathe easily, so the shallow end of our pond is a popular with these birds who sometimes queue up to bathe, as the pond can only accommodate two or three bathing at the same time. Although they are usually fairly tame, perhaps because they feel vulnerable, Hadedas are surprisingly shy when bathing, making it hard to get a photograph of one in the act
Despite all this activity, mostly the pond is a quiet spot apart from the sound of trickling water from our homemade mini cascade. The sound of water falling is soothing and also helps to mask the sound of distant traffic.
The pond then has become a focal point in the garden, for visiting birds and other creatures, and for us it is a place of quiet reflection, and reflections …
A Dwarf Papyrus (Cyperus prolifer) reflected in the surface of the pond
A floating leaf breaking up autumn reflections
Even in a small pond, pond ecology can be complicated and our pond has had several incarnations with alterations to its size and tremendous changes in the plants both in and around the pond. It was surprising to us to find a garden pond to be such a dynamic enterprise. Perhaps I will do some future blog posts on the adaptations we have had to make to our pond over the years and suggest some of the ways to make a pond wildlife friendly.
And in conclusion, just to say, I do ♥ our pond!
Posted by Carol