I'm delighted to welcome back Denise Smith from wildaboutdevon.co.uk for today's blog:

I enjoyed reading Adrian’s post on 22 March about how it’s possible to have a neat wildlife garden, a point my grandmother-in-law worked hard to convince me of when she first visited our house. I think part of my love for a wild-looking garden stems from laziness. I try to plant only native plants partly because the wildlife is adapted to them and partly because they tend to require minimal maintenance in our climate.  I kept to this theme when I designed my wildlife pond, so I planted some ferns at the edges, I placed some Yellow Flag in the water (the blade-like leaves in the photo) and left a log covered in moss that I found behind my shed sloping into it, in case any creatures needed something to grab onto if they were struggling to find their way back out again. I made a bank of stones at the back to offer shelter to amphibians and I left the rest to nature.

Within two months some Water Milfoil appeared, which I guess had been bought on the feet of a bird. I was very pleased about that because it’s an oxygenating plant, so will help to maintain the quality of the water. Some Common Rush also emerged - unintentional but welcome. Then came the Frogs, who spend their days in gaps between the stones and spawned in the Milfoil (right).

Now, the Water Milfoil has formed a solid surface layer, about 3cm deep, which birds use as a platform from which to drink. My pond is very small, with a surface area of about two thirds of a square metre, so luckily it’s easy for me to clear some out regularly, along with the duckweed that arrived last year (which I just pull out). It’s good to keep between a third and a half of the surface of the pond clear for amphibians and invertebrates to move around in.

The Blackbird is a regular visitor, sifting through dead pieces of Yellow Flag, very particular in which bits she will use for her nest, tossing the others aside. The pond is now full of tadpoles and I wonder if the birds have a go at those too, but I’ve never actually seen it. So, there are still bits of liner showing and some of last year’s dead leaves, but to me, it’s a joy to observe.

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