A New Wildlife Pond (Finished...at last)

  • In reply to Catlady:

    Hi, aquatic acquaintances. Oh dear…….has it really been mid October since I last updated this thread? I’ve had wheens (Scottish word for lots) of images on the PC since way back in July, and I’ve only now got around to having a look through them.!! If anyone is still interested (or even remembers) the pond build, this update is going to cover the planting of the Hibernaculum, and maybe a few other planting issues/solutions as well. If you can remember waaaaay back to the end of the Hibernaculum build, we left off with the structure of the Hibernaculum being covered over with soil and stones, all ready for planting. The pond was also beginning to turn green…beginning to come to life.!! This first photo shows the collection of plants that we’d gotten in to plant up the Hibernaculum, with a few extras for down the ‘path side’ of the pond. I chose most of the plants myself (to the raised eyebrow of Mrs A), and I’m hoping that they’ll settle in fine. The positioning of the Hibernaculum is in partial shade, so I’ve tried to select plants to reflect this. Please don’t ask me any of the names of the plants, as I think you’ll have discovered from earlier updates and other threads, plant ID’s are not up there in my top 10 strong points. I will, however, happily confirm or deny the colours of the plants.!! (mostly green) :-) . Anyway, the plants….as they were in mid July.

    I had selected a few different Heathers, so Mrs A had told me what type of soil they needed….(which I can’t remember at this exact moment)…but this next photo shows some of the soil mixed in with ‘normal’ soil, purely for the use of planting the Heather.

    I began by placing the plants where I intended to plant them. I did actually read the instructions on the labels, and I’ve placed them in accordance to (most) of the rules. I specifically chose them for their different heights and spreads; hopefully the flowering ones will also attract insects and all the things that like to eat the insects. There is also a variance in colouring as well.

    The plants…..where I intended to plant them.

    And a 'zoomed out' view (with green water in abundance).!!

    My phenomenal memory for plant names tells me that this next one is a Corkscrew Rush.!! No praise please….you’ve either ‘got it’ or you haven’t.!! This particular plant has been planted at the edge, with its roots in the waterlogged aquatic compost.

    Corkscrew Rush.

    These next ones I do actually remember the name of (I hope). I’m pretty sure that they’re all varieties of Sedum. I had deliberately left open ‘pockets’ beneath the flagstones down this side of the pond. The intention was to fill these pockets with soil to plant the Sedum’s in.

    After a bit of digging and scuffling about, the plants are in their homes at last.

    I’ve almost forgotten that all of this happened way back in July, so I think we may take a slight detour to see what else was going on around then.

    Mrs A’s hanging baskets were coming on a treat…..

    ……with pinkish white flowery things…..

    ……purpley, bluey flowery things. I’m not sure if it was these particular flowers that gave of a beautiful scent; these hanging baskets were on the side of the house, and are only slightly higher than ‘head level’. Every time you passed under them, the aroma was gorgeous.!!

    Down in the Greenhouse, Mrs A has added a few decorations. This wee Puffin was bought on the ‘May Princess’, a wee boat which takes you out to the Isle of May, in the Forth estuary. She actually returned to her seat with the Puffin and a glass of wine?? I actually saw a few people on the boat with glasses of wine?? Somehow these types of things seem to be just out of my reach for some strange reason.!! Anyway…back in the Greenhouse…Mrs A’s Puffin.

    ..and I've no idea where this came from.!!

    Moving swiftly along, we now come to the business of putting the Water Lilies into the pond. This may seem like an easy task…..but it’s not….apparently.!! It seems that you can’t just plonk the Lilies into the deep end and hope for the best. The nice lady from the nursery where I bought the Lilies told me that they needed to be lowered gradually to the required depth. It would appear that the Lily pads should never be more than a few inches below the surface of the water as they are lowered towards the bottom of the pond. In other words….I needed a plan to slowly lower the plants towards into the depths, allowing a period of a few weeks to pass as the Lily pads slowly grew towards the surface.!! The required depth was two and a half foot, and 3 foot respectively. After careful consideration, a list of ingredients was assembled for the task.!!

    I know what you’re thinking….”My God…..a drill.!!” Don’t worry though, it’s not going to be used to drill holes in the Lilies.!! Please bear in mind that I don’t intend to have to physically get back into the water (unless several glasses of the aforementioned wine are involved) :-)

    I came up with a plan of attaching four ‘hooks’ to each plant basket. This will allow me to attach a ‘running line’ of good strong string to each basket. With each running line passing through two of the hooks, I’ll be able to slowly lower the baskets over a period of a few weeks, thus giving the plant the much needed time to reach towards the surface. Don’t worry if it all sounds a bit technical; the next few photos should help to explain.

    With a hole drilled through the basket, the first of the four hooks is fashioned using a stiff piece of wire.

    The basket with four 'hooks' attached.

    A reasonably stout piece of wood was brought out of retirement to balance the plant basket on as the two pieces of string are passed through the hooks at each side. I wouldn’t personally jump up and down on the piece of wood, but it was sufficiently strong for the task required.!!

    A different view, from the side. Not too complicated….one plant…..one piece of wood…..six tent pegs…..four hooks.

    The finished article, ready to be lowered slowly down…a few inches at a time, over a period of a few weeks.!!

    OK.....call me fussy if you want; the thought of chaffing string keeps me awake at night.!!

    The second plant is afforded the same courtesy. Into the dark green depths.!!

    With double the ‘anti-chaffing’ measures….obviously.!!

    Looking down the garden, it’s all now starting to look distinctly ‘pondy’.!!

    Time is running on now, and much as I'd like to keep going with this update, I have a planned visit to Loch Leven in the morning.!! I hope you've enjoyed this, and I'll try to bring it all up to date soon. Until the next time....

    Paul

    My bird photos HERE

  • In reply to Paul A:

    How wonderful that you are back with your inimitable SOH firmly in place!!!  So pleased you have remembered us waiting for this update!  Have a very enjoyable trip to LL & look forward to more pics of same!  Please tell Mrs A how wonderful her hanging baskets look & just love that Puffin's woolly hat!!  Take care!

     

     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • In reply to WendyBartter:

    Seems along with Wendy I too am a night Owl tonight  lol     Well Paul, what can I say except I just love these updates !  The pond and surrouding area is looking superb with the wonderful selection of plants;  you and Mrs. A are to be congratulated on your beautiful garden and also the fabulous hanging baskets which are stunning.   When it comes to ingenuity you have it in spades  Paul   lol      

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • In reply to HAZY:

    Paul, hello again. How spooky that you should post last night, it was only earlier in the evening that I had been thinking about your lovely stories and wondered how things were going! How things have come along, and looking lovely. Mrs A baskets are lovely, with her coloured flowery things!! Have a good day and I look forward to your in depth, funny and wonderful updates.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • In reply to Catlady:

    Hi Paul, really enjoyed catching up with your update and report-you have obviously put a lot of time and effort into this project,which I'm sure will reap rewards for you.Love your ingenious plant lowering contraption,lol! Enjoy you day out and I look forward to some photos of your trip.

    PS - I'm sure Mrs A loves you really!

    Jayne

    See my Flickr photos here.

  • In reply to welsh lass:

    Ha ha WL, maybe on a 'better the devil you know ....' basis!!  That sign did make me laugh too PA!

     

     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • In reply to welsh lass:

    Thank everyone; I’m glad you enjoyed the update. It took me ages to load the photos so there are still more to come when I can summon the time and willpower.….which I will…..when I can summon the time and willpower to summon the time and willpower.!!

    welsh lass said:
    I'm sure Mrs A loves you really!

    I often tell her that she has won the Lottery in having me, Jayne. This normally results in an almost indistinguishable shaking of the head, and some quiet mumbling under her breath. I’m certain that she’s actually thanking her lucky stars when she does this.!!  :-)

     

    Paul

    My bird photos HERE

  • In reply to Paul A:

    Hello Paul,

    thank you very much for the great update on your garden-pond, despite all the trouble. How on earth do you always get the ideas for making work easier? (I'm talking about the mechanism for lowering the lilies). I, too, love Mrs A's puffin. And her hanging-baskets look just great. I hope you are well, and I'm looking forward to the next update.

    Kind regards, Bente

  • In reply to Bente S:

    Hi, Bente. It's nice to know that you're still out there, and many thanks for your very kind comments. I'm planning on adding another update soon, but that's what I said back in October; I'll try not to leave it quite so long this time.!! Mrs A thanks you (and all of the others) for your kind words in regards to her garden and hanging baskets. As for the wee Puffin with the woolly hat on...he's not said a single word yet.!!

    Paul

    My bird photos HERE

  • In reply to Paul A:

    Hi folks, this is (I think) going to be the final update in the pond thread. All of the building and planting is long since completed. The pond has long since cleared, grown, died back, frozen, thawed, re- frozen and re thawed. Now that I mention frozen, it occurs to me that I’ve actually forgoton to take any photos of the pond with ice on it. There’s time yet I suppose, I am in Scotland , so it could still easily freeze over up until about August.!!  :-)   Anyway, I’ll try to bring all of this to a conclusion, and I’ll maybe throw in a few shots of some of the other stuff that was going on around the time the pond was being built. It was back in the summertime so we’ll start off with a shot of a mother Rook and her youngster (not that the youngsters are demanding you understand).

    On top of the telegraph pole.

    In the pond itself, my wee Loosestrife thingy is starting to get used to its new home. I got this because I'd read that seemingly they're good for attracting Damselflies and Dragonflies?

    The first things that actually moved into the pond were one or two wee black flies. I’ve no idea what the correct name for them is, but I would call them Black Gnats. They just appeared as if by magic.

    Followed very rapidly by around one hundred squillion of their wee pals.!!

    The entire circumference of the pond was moving with them. I was thinking that they were going to live their lives and then die off rapidly as the ‘green algae’ died off, and I was correct. I get along great with all of my neighbours, but I still wouldn’t like to try to explain a ‘Black Gnat infestation’ in their gardens.!! Anyway, they did actually die off within a week or so....so all was well. Meanwhile…the birds were starting to get used to the pond; although one or two of the House Sparrows still appeared to peer into the depths with a certain amount of suspicion.!! (perhaps wondering where all of the wee black flies had gone...who knows the mind of a Sparrow).??

    Starlings, on the other hand, well….you know what they’re like.!! < sighs >

    Slowly backing away from the madness for a moment, back in the garden we have a much more civilised and refined creature. I think this is a Small White Butterfly, but please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.!!

    Happily feeding on one of Mrs A’s Buddleia’s

    OK...Mr 'Golden Wonder' hasn't exactly been bashing my door down, but my tatties turned out not too bad actually....and very tasty they were too.!!

    Unfortunately, my Cabbages didn’t do too well at all.!! They were viciously and maliciously assaulted by marauding gangs of wee caterpillars, and call me a ‘Big Softie’ if you want, but I just couldn’t face the thought of evicting them; instead I spent most of the summer trying to keep the Cabbages alive, just to give the Caterpillars a fighting chance.!! Once again I’ve no idea what kind of Thug.…sorry….Caterpillar this is, but I did manage this shot before he rampaged through the garden, breaking windows and stealing the stereo out of a neighbours car.!!

    Back at the pond, you can see that the water had started to clear, and although the plants on top of the Hibernaculum have yet to spread out, they do seem to have taken root quite well.

    We’ve almost forgotten to look up now and again, and by a bit of luck, this rather handsome Lesser Black-backed Gull happened to pass by. He very graciously dangled a pair of lovely yellow legs, just to help us in identifying him.!!

    Looking out over the fields at the bottom of the garden, the farmers had been busy with the harvest.

    Back in the garden again, the resident male Blackbird was looking particularly dashing.!!

    Mrs Jackdaw was in the process of being run ragged by junior.

    …although she had long ago learned that there’s really only one way to gain a few seconds of silence.!!

    Attempting to facilitate a smooth transition from birds back to the pond, the House Sparrows had at last got over the ‘mysterious water thing’ and are now embracing the pond with unabashed glory.!!

    We've already talked about the Starlings' attitude to all of this.

    I had mentioned in the previous post about planting a few wee Sedums’ down the path side of the pond; this wee chap is one of them.

    ...with this being another one of them.

    The water in the pond has cleared really well; the oxygenating plants have been doing their job admirably.

    There's still a wee ‘smidgen’ of green algae on the stones under the water in this photo, but it did actually clear much more so than the photo shows.

    If you remember the update about building the Hibernaculum, this is how the entrance looked in the late summer. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this area comes on this year.

    Staying out of the water for a moment; the area contained within my new wall wasn’t looking too bad. There were lots of wee fluttery and buzzy things going about their business in here.

    Talking of fluttery things, this wee chap decided to make himself known to me by landing on top of the 400mm. I couldn't not take a photo of him.!!

    A final look out into the garden finds this gorgeous Wood Pigeon foraging for seeds on the lawn.

    Back in the water, there is most definitely life…and lots of it.!! I’ve seen fly larvae by the thousands, wee Diving Beetles (although no Great Diving Beetles as yet). I’ve seen lots of wee underwater swimming things (Corixae?). This next shot shows one of the beasties who’s decided to live in the pond. (the feather looks like it belongs to one of our Starlings, whilst the several wee 'buzzer' things under the water are insect larvae). I do have a photo of a large water snail, but it was taking far too long to upload it.!!  :-)

    This is the area where Mrs A carried out her unexpected inspection.!! (remember that?)    :-) ……oops…..I meant   :-(

    I think that it would be a bit inappropriate if I was to end this thread without a few photos of the project supervisors.!! As I’m sure you’ll know if you’ve followed all of this, the pond build has been supervised (on and off) by my cats. This (as I’m sure you’ll remember) is Harry. It may appear from this photo that Harry is a ‘Happy go Lucky’… ‘Stroke me at Will’ type of Pussy Cat, but this is not the case. The photo was taken with the 400mm from around thirty foot away. If I had moved in any way quickly, or towards him, he would have vanished without a trace. He does however sleep in the house at night, and once indoors he is one of the most affectionate cats you could hope to come across. The moral of the story….don‘t try to psychoanalyse a cat.!! You’ll lose.!! Anyway, this is Harry. He’s old, cuddly, and totally unpredictable.!!

    This, on the other hand is Tee Tee (as once again, I’m sure you’ll remember). It worries me a bit to see her as active as this.!! As you can see from the photo, she’s like a coiled spring, all agitated and wound up.!! Normally she’s much more relaxed than the photo would have you believe.!! I really do worry about her when she works herself up to this level of activity.!!

    Tee Tee.

    Anyway, I suppose I’d better add the last few shots of the pond, as it was at the end of the Summer. This first one is looking from the garden path across to the Hibernaculum.

    And a final shot of the pond, looking down the garden.

    I would really like to say thanks to everyone who’s joined in (and looked in) on all of this. I do hope that you’ve enjoyed this. For me it’s been great fun and a great education, plus we’ve had some really good laughs along the way (ignoring all the abuse and intimidation)…..obviously.!! :-) I do have another potential project up my sleeve, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with wildlife. I suppose if I take photos of the birds as I’m doing it, we might just get away with passing it off as an appropriate thread. Hmmmm….we’ll have to see what happens as the season progresses.

     

    Paul

    My bird photos HERE