I love sharing with you all the things I’ve been doing in my garden to help wildlife. But I equally love showcasing the activities of others who have been inspired to make changes.
So, today, you get to see a new garden pond that has appeared in the Midlands.
I say it has appeared. It actually took a minidigger being operated by a novice minidiggerer (if such a noun exists) to dig out the 6 x 7 metres (20 x 23 feet) hole.
How exciting is this as a result?!
The maker of the pond in her email said, “I am so nervous about showing you this…Lots of things didn’t go to plan (such as a Mole deciding to destroy one of the shelves the night before we did the liner which then meant we got levels wrong and, well, you know what happens after that…)
“But overall I’m pretty pleased. It looks a bit stark as it needs more planting, especially around the edge. But this weekend I got my first dragonfly so I’m very happy – wildlife doesn’t care how it looks .
“Any improvements you can recommend? Does it look ok?”
Well, I felt suddenly quite powerful to think that people show me their creations with an element of nervousness. It’s as if I’m Prue Leith on Bake Off about to mark their attempts at a raspberry millefeuille (for non Bake Off fans I’m talking about delicate flaky pastry layered with a silky crème diplomat and raspberry jam, topped off with a classic feathered fondant top. Mmm mmm mmmmm).
I was pleased to be able to go back to the diggerer with some comments that indicated how genuinely brilliant the creation looks, and that its soggy bottom was exactly what I was hoping to see. Look at those gorgeous ledges and shingly beaches. Perfect!
What I did ask is whether there are parts of the surrounds that will be allowed to grow tall to provide cover for things such as amphibians as they enter and leave the pond (which they surely will).
And, yes, indeed, there is a whole wildflower area going in right next door. “I used the subsoil from making the pond to create it. Here it is in its early stages – it has a temporary fence around because the Rabbits decided that the new shoots were the tastiest things they’d ever come across, so it will stay in place for a year or so until the perennials are able to hold their own.”
I also asked about shading for the pond. A fully sunny pond is fine, but a few shrubs along the southern edge somewhere might provide not only a bit of cooler water (helping reduce build up of algae) but also provide ‘stepping stones’ down to the water’s edge for birds coming to bathe and drink.
As a result, the pond owner is going to put in a Cornus Midwinter Fire, which is a lovely little dogwood with indeed fiery red winter stems, which can be coppiced each year but will provide fabulous reflections.
So, is the pond working? “Already there are dragonflies, diving beetles, pond skaters, water boatmen, and a Wren has visited and I have Grey Wagtails in the garden for the first time at the water’s edge. I love it!"
Oops, I haven’t actually revealed the creator. It is none other than the RSPB’s England Director, the wonderful Emma Marsh, and the pond was one of the lockdown activities she undertook during a 'holiday'.
If you’re inspired to have a go at making your own pond, the RSPB now has some starter pond liner kits, including underlay to keep it safe from piercing, which comes with an instruction guide that I put together. Now is a perfect time to try. And I'm sure almost every pond owner in the country will confirm that 'love' is indeed the feeling you'll have once it is in.
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654