A New Pond!

The dream is finally here! (And we had a visitor!)

What kind of person dreams about one day putting a pond into their garden?! Well, I do for one! Ever since we moved in, we've said we'd like to install a small pond one day, but we'd never gotten around to it. Last December we said that the spring of 2018 would be when we finally had a pond.

I bought everything we would need over the space of a couple of weeks, and store it until the weather was better. I wanted it to be dry enough to dig a hole for the pre-formed pond without making a big muddy puddle!

First though, I had a little maintenance to do on our herb garden. I made us this in March 2017, as an experiment more than anything. As it was an originally a quick experiment (and one that I didn't think would work!) I had just put some gravel over the soil, and then put some pots in which we could place the herb pots into. As it turned out, the herb garden worked brilliantly, but weeds kept showing through. The level of the gravel had also sunk as it settled after installation. So, at the end of last month, I removed as much of the existing gravel as I could and put some weed membrane down. I then cut some holes into the membrane to put the pots into. After they were positioned, I put the existing gravel back and then topped it up with new gravel. The result is a refreshed herb garden that is level with the path. When the weather improves, the herb pots will be placed into the ground pots and we'll have vibrant, fresh herbs for our cooking all throughout the summer! (As always, you can click or tap a photo to enlarge it.)

Our refreshed herb garden

Now on to the pond! Last year I built a very simple coldframe, and we'd grown purple carrots and purple sprouts. Once the (largely unsuccessful) growing season was over, I left the coldframe where it was, as we were planning on growing more veg this year. However, a combination of a hard winter and the garden birds - who take the fleece for nesting material! - had left it looking a little battered. After much conversation, we decided to remove it and put a pond there instead. We are still going to grow our own veg, but we'll limit it to what we can grow in the greenhouse.

Our very worn coldframe
I dug a hole for the pond liner, laid sand on the bottom and around the sides, and then placed the liner in. I then backfilled with more sand and some topsoil.

I'd bought a couple of cheap paving slabs and some white spar gravel, to surround the pond. Breaking up the slabs was easy - it's so satisfying to hit something with a big rubber mallet and watch it break into random-sized pieces! I'd also bought some heather (I love heather!) to plant on two sides of the pond.

Once the heather was planted, I filled the pond with water. Originally I'd only bought enough gravel to renovate the herb garden and put the rest down one edge of the pond. Once I'd done this, I decided that it simply wouldn't do at all!

So I went out and bought some more!

Now I know that, at the moment, it looks a bit much, but there's a plan! The heather will grow to fill the space it is planted in, thus hiding most of the gravel in that spot. Under the rest of the gravel, we've sown various wildflower seeds. These should grow through over the next few months, and break up the effect a little. In the meantime, the gravel will keep the neighbourhood cats away from the pond.

I also did some complimentary planting. The plants I've chosen, although small at the moment, will grow to fill the space. The width and height of them, once they've grown, will provide an effective wind barrier and shelter the pond. Most of them are also RHS 'Perfect for Pollinators' certified, so the bugs and other winged things will love them too!

As I had a bit of gravel left over, I decided I'd scatter it amongst the new plants. Once they grow, we'll not see the gravel. In the meantime, as with the pond, it will keep the cats at bay!

I'd also ordered some pond plants, which arrived a few days after the Easter weekend. All of these are selected for small garden ponds, and are designed to attract various wildlife to the pond.

Marsh cinquefoil

Yellow loosestrife

Hard rush

Yellow flag

Dwarf water lilly

Willow moss, to oxygenate the water

Water forget-me-not

Here is the finished pond, with the plants in. You cant see the willow moss, as the water was very cold, so the plant had sunk to the bottom.

While I was potting the plants into the baskets, I noticed a frog sitting on our steps! I was so happy when I saw it, as the pond had only been in for about a week and already we had wildlife! We always get frogs in the garden, but as we have the only wildlife friendly pond around here, I've absolutely no idea where they came from before!

Eventually our amphibian visitor had made its way to our new pond! I was so excited I sat for 20 minutes waiting to see if it would go for a swim!

Eventually, it sort of fumbled its way into the pond and stayed in this position for a little while:

Erm... What exactly are you doing?!

We've never had a pond, so I didn't know if the frog's behaviour was normal or not. Something told me that this was not something a happy, healthy amphibian would do, so i fished it out. When it didn't even try to hop away I became more concerned. I had a gut feeling that something was very wrong... After a little while, it crawled rather haphazardly back into the pond, and assumed the same pose as before. I left it there, as I didn't want to interfere too much.

When Anneka came home from work, she checked on our froggy friend. The next morning (as I was already in bed asleep) she told me that it was in the same position, but now on the bottom of the pond. She thought it was probably dead...

I went to check and, fearing the worst, I fished it out of the pond...

Sadly, Anneka was correct. Our first friendly frog to visit our pond had died. I felt so very sad. It appears as though it had come to us for the sole purpose of finding a safe place to spend its last moments. While I am glad it had somewhere to go, I really wish our first amphibian had been a happy, hoppingly-happy one.

We are hoping that over the next few months we'll see more wildlife (perhaps alive!) in our pond!

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