Thursday, 19 June 2014
Meet the pond
If you have a garden, but not a water feature within it, then I urge you to put that right this summer. It doesn't have to be a pond - a sunken or stand-alone sink will suffice - plant it up and sit back to await a whole wealth of wildlife that will make a bee-line for your watery offering.
Our own pond is small, some six feet at its widest. When we moved here (pre-children) the pond was already a living thing, full of newts and frogs, damselflies and dragonflies. When our first daughter was born we filled it in as a safety precaution. When our second daughter stopped toddling we excavated the infill, relined it and filled the resulting hole with water. Within an hour a pond skater was on the water surface and the air above was full of gnats. It didn't take long for the wildlife to find it.
I ensured that a few shelves were built into the pond's construction and placed planted containers full of Pendulous Sedge, Water Mint, Marsh Marigold, Greater Spearwort and water lilies. A few uninvited species have suddenly turned up, like the Monkeyflower that has appeared this year. Not only does the ponds edge now have a splash of colour, the plants act as a food source for many invertebrates and a place for odonata to 'hang out'. The dragonfly list is small but worthy - Large Red Damselfly, Azure Damselfly and Southern Hawker all breed in it, plus the odd Common Darter and Broad-bodied Chaser have dropped in for a look.
Birds come down to drink and bathe although they tend to use the two bird baths nearby. To sit by the pond and watch for a few minutes is never dull as there is always something happening. A bank of lavender (don't imagine a hundred yards of well manicured flower here, think four big plants!) nearby is a cafe for a constant stream of insects, some of which might decide to grab an extra snack on the nearby water mint.
So, even if your patch of wilderness is a balcony, a small trough of water can provide plenty of interest for you and act as a resource for the wildlife. It can be an inexpensive way to ensure that our homes are also a home to nature.