Friday, 4 April 2014

Making it happen - my pond!

One of the items on my bucket list is to "have a garden with a vegetable patch and a pond".  I've had the vegetable patch for about six years now, and this week can finally confirm that I have a pond.

It has been a work in progress for about two years... maybe more.  I started off by deciding where I wanted the pond.  We had a convenient corner raised bed, surrounded by a wall about 1' high.  So for a couple of years, knowing that this was going to be where the pond would be, I very much neglected this bed.  I'd occasionally weed it, and I gradually moved plants out and put them elsewhere in the garden.

Autumn 2012 I started digging, thinking that I'd get the pond in for Spring 2013.  Winter happened, and not much digging.  During last summer I'd occasionally dig out a barrow of soil, but then abandon it once  more for a few weeks.  By the time I came back it was full of weeds or other plants again.  Autumn 2013 I started digging more earnestly, expecting any moment for snow, frost and other winter weather to stop progress.  The winter conditions didn't really happen, but we did get a lot of storms and rain, so progress slowed once more.

I knew that if I left it much longer then I would once more miss the frog-spawn window, so I got down to it more seriously in February and March.  It's a really big job!  I just seemed to be digging and digging, and disposing of soil in all sorts of interesting places around the garden, and it never seemed to be deep enough.  Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I realised that I was nearly there.  After digging out about 10 wheelbarrow loads in one day, including an unexpected sheet of corrugated iron, I knew that a couple more wheelbarrows would do it.

So I ordered the pond liner, and I ordered some planters and some plants (just a few: some yellow iris, marsh marigold and elodea).  Then I realised what was missing and also dragged a couple of sacks of builder's sand out of B&Q, and a bag of aquatic compost out of the garden centre.  This all arrived on Tuesday, so in order not to kill the plants, I knew the pond had to be completed on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning dawned, and it was only raining a little bit.  I dressed Bug in wellies and splashsuit, made sure that she had her scooter, her bucket, her trowel, and anything else that she might require, got my own overalls and wellies on and headed out for the garden.  Two more barrows full of soil, then another to pick out any stray stones.  We then enjoyed throwing sand into the hole.  We got some free underlay with our liner, so this went in next, and then the liner.  It was massive and manhandling it into place was... ummm... interesting.  So we turned on the hose and went for a hot chocolate.  All this had only taken one hour!

While the pond was filling, we set about planting the planters.  I hadn't bought the suggested horticultural grit, but I guessed filching some gravel from elsewhere in the garden would do the trick.  I did try to pull the liner taut, as recommended, but it didn't really work, so there are some unwanted folds, which I hope won't affect things too much.  Next I waded around the shelf of the pond, trimming the liner.  I cut a little too much in one place, more on that in a moment.  Once the pond was full, I lowered the plants into place, and then started gathering material from around the garden to lay around the edge.  I have sticks, logs, stones and pebbles, a plant pot and a couple of wellies with holes in them.

I quickly realised that the level of the pond wasn't quite what it should be, as I had accidentally cut too much liner away in one corner.  I've put another piece of liner over, but obviously water doesn't respect that and once it gets to a certain level, it's pouring out of that spot.  I've now ordered some Pond Liner tape on e-bay (bargain), and will tape my patch piece in place and build up a little more soil behind it, then I'll be able to fill the pond a bit more, and a lot of the visible plastic liner will disappear.  I'm also going to plant up around the edge a bit more.

I still think it looks a little bare, but I know this is the way it is with a new pond.  Once the plants in the pond get established, and plants start to grow around the edge of the pond, and over into it then it will start to look a lot more natural, and maybe the wildlife will move in.  I'm keeping my eyes open for frogspawn in puddles and the like (where it probably won't survive once the sunnier weather kicks in), to re-home in the pond.

I'm so proud of this.  Not just because it's been a real effort; not just because I've finally ticked something off that's been on my "to-do" list for so long; but also because I can't wait to see the children tucked down by the wall and watching the bugs and beasties that will eventually move in to this awesome nature habitat!

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