Thursday, 18 October 2018

Clearing Spaces - The Hidden Pond

Before tackling the Hidden Pond Area

there were some trees to plant

and eggs to collect

Green Patch cats Rosemary

and Basil

The pond had become very

overgrown with reeds and weeds

We began moving the silted tyres

and hope to replant them later on

It is heard to know quite where to begin but we have had some wonderful plans and advice from  Ann Leonard who is used to dealing with huge pond projects through her role as Office Manager at AES Europe and who is a long time participant, supporter and friend of Back To Books. Ann came to visit the site during the planning stages of the project in August and has given us three options to look at.

Green Patch Pond
Option 1
  1. Judiciously prune trees to achieve dappled shade.
  2. Cut back or remove shrub.
  3. Clear out reeds from pond – leave to one side so that pond dwellers can find their way to safety.
  4. Remove tyres.
  5. Reassess the situation. It may be the path of least resistance to trim back the liner to 8 inches from the edge of the pond, install marginal plants round the perimeter and plant up some baskets to put on the shelves.
  6. Allow the pond to fill naturally
Plant list 1 - Marginal
Water forget-me-nots – Mysotis scorpioides (easy from seed)
Molly blobs - Caltha palustris
Brooklime - Veronica beccabunga (easy from seed)
Creeping Jenny – Lysimachia nummularia
Purple loosestrife - Lythrum salicaria
Ox eye daisy - Leucanthemum vulgare - (easy from seed)
Marsh woundwort - Stachys palustris

Baskets filled with a loamy compost , planted and a layer of gravel to prevent soil floating out. Suggest planting a tall plant from below with a couple of menthe aquatic strands.

Flag iris (yellow)
Purple iris
Orontium aquaticum

Option 2
As option 1 to point 4.
5. As there is excess liner it would be possible to excavate a shallow trench under it to add a channel to make a space for bog plants. The channel must be deep enough to contain soil and plants and leave a significant border of liner to “tuck” under the turf round the pond . It is not necessary to surround the entire pond with bog plants, a narrower cut could be made and marginal plants from the option 1 list planted.

Planting would be as Option one plant list for baskets and marginal plants
Option 2 bog plants
Astilbe – red, white and pink shades available
Houttuynia cordata
Hostas – species for damp shade
Geum Rivale
Mentha aquatic

Aquatic plant seeds – it is possible to grow aquatic plants from seed – Forget-me-nots, Brooklime, and Butumos are easy – but Butumos takes several years to flower… could be grown on in baskets over a period of years to replace plants at a later date. Other seeds are available – it may be an interesting project to “grow your own” for volunteers.
Mysotis scorpioides

Option 3
1 Prune trees and remove/cut back shrub/
2 Clear pond entirely including liner
3 Measure fibre glass liner and ensure it will fit in the hole. Excavate where necessary. Aim to have the edges very slightly below the level of the surrounding land, definitely not higher, to allow water runoff from the local area to fill the pond.
4) Line the bottom of the hole with sand. Check depth again. Ensure the pond bottom is absolutely level.
5) Brace the dipped side of the fibre glass shell with wood or bricks to ensure that the level is perfect.
6) Backfill with whatever is available. Hardcore or crushed aggregate could go at the bottom, sand then whatever soil is available.
7) The new area surrounding the pond will need to be graded (made to slope) downwards into the pond.

Plants for baskets as previous options.
As the fibreglass shell has a very narrow lip it would be very easy to achieve some interesting planting effects. Enthusiastic creeping plants like Brooklime and Creeping Jenny would be ideal to offer an open aspect opposite tall plants like Purple Loosestrife.

Further thoughts.
  1. In the medium term once the pond is stable it will need to be maintained, plants cut back in February etc. Overgrowth will need to be curtailed – plants can be divided up and planted elsewhere.
  2. The presence of newts make me think it would be a good idea to create a newt hotel for hibernation. Pile of sticks 60cm high and 100cm long covered loosely with turf.
  3. The area to the left of the pond next to the fence nearest the other pond rather lends itself to a willow hut with some tree trunk sttols for a story telling area.
  4. The ponds need aeration a solar powered floating pump would be useful for both.
  5. The iris basket in the square pond needs hauling out and the rhizome sawing up to create new plants.
  6. Don’t put tap water in the ponds… it has a massive amount of nutrients which will encourage algae to grow.

It seems daunting but we will get there!

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Clearing Spaces - Bird Boxes

October is a time for seed collection and preparation 

Happily there was still warmth and light enough

for the group to work on painting

bird boxes for the Hidden Pond Garden 

and the Wellbeing Garden