(No) Pond Life

My pond is bereft of life. At least that is the way it seems. It has been overgrown for years. The bottom is a thick layer of waxy Red Oak leaves. The flag irises in the sun have bloomed. Those in the shade have not. It sits, draped in duckweed, with no light piercing the surface. Not a single dragonfly has been seen. This is a pond in need of a makeover.

Yesterday two experts came over and we spent an hour discussing what we might do with it. They had some excellent ideas. They were both on the faculty of Sparsholt College at one time, I believe. It showed. They knew their stuff, naming plant after plant including a past mystery one, which remained so until yesterday. This it transpires is Himalayan Honeysuckle, Leycesteria formosa. And it is reputedly attractive to Bullfinches. This makes sense as we have a pair in the garden.untitled-13I thought I might do a ‘Before & After’ so I can at least record the transformation for my benefit if not for anybody else. I went out this afternoon and took a few photos of the area. This is how it looks today. As you approach it you would hardly know there is a pond here.untitled-9 Walk around the side and you can just see the stone bridge.untitled-10 Here is the section that has done absolutely nothing.untitled-11 This end produced a splendid display of Yellow Flag Irises as it gets the sun.untitled-12 Alongside the Himalayan Honeysuckle are plenty of pondside weeds.untitled-14 Whichever way you look it is a dark, overgrown place.untitled-15 Beyond you see the stepping stones that once crossed the moat of the Japanese water-garden.untitled-16


untitled-18 In keeping with the Oriental feel there is a clump of bamboo growing.untitled-19In estate agent speak I think this has ‘bags of potential’ or ‘ideal for a new owner to put their own stamp on it’.  I call it neglected, wasted, wild and wonderful.

So a plan will be forthcoming. We have already determined that the pond needs to be emptied completely. The plants need to be thinned out. The pond will be refilled, replanted and rescued from its current ignominy. Spaces will be created from where I can create photographic masterpieces of emerging odonata. We shall have

Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,–
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble

I am rather hoping that we get the whole newt and the whole frog.

And hot off the press, I have ordered a bat detector! The bats fly around the garden quite a lot and I want to know whether it is always the same species or could we have several? Will the pond bring in more? I do not know when the work will be undertaken but the consensus was sooner rather than later. Don’t switch off and certainly Do Not Adjust Your Set (Yet).

36 thoughts on “(No) Pond Life

  1. Some one must have really loved this pond once. The stepping stones, the bridge, the plants. I think it will be a rather nice project bringing it back to life. Just think of all the frogs and wildlife that it will attract. Looking forward to seeing the transformation 🙂

  2. It was, surely, once the Garden of Eden. It’s fantastic once and even now; it will be fabulous again! I’m excited about the huge store of potential creativity that lies ahead!

  3. You don’t hang about, do you. I thought one was supposed to watch a garden for a year before upheaving it… I would never have that kind of patience either. Look forward to the (whole) frogs and newts and some bats. I need someone with your skills to photograph our hedgehogs, I can see them, but my camera can’t.

    • Get a trail-cam Hilary and leave it outside. They can detect motion so you could get excellent infra red footage of your hogs.

      I once bought a T shirt that shocked my mother. It pictured 2 vultures sitting on a branch and one saying to the other “Patience my ***, I’m gonna kill something”. That’s how it feels with the pond I’m afraid.

      • I might have to design myself a t-shirt along those lines, I like the sentiment.

        have you ever read anything about the physiology of vultures? They surely are well adapted for the things they dine upon, which are full of bacteria, etc., that would send us off this mortal coil before you could say “Newt”.

      • I have never delved into the inner tubing of a vulture Yvonne. All things have ther place and vulture bowels are fairly distant on my list of places to explore.

  4. Well this is certainly exciting. You have the chance to recreate a lovely pond garden that is in need of some Hardacre TLC. I am sure your experts will guide you to which plants will attract which beasts of your desire. Pictures to follow.

  5. Even so, I can’t dislike the pond as it is now. A credit to your photographic art to show beauty regardless of its neglect. I am sure it will be even more stunning in years to come. I can see the dragonflies already queuing up.

  6. It is has great potential as “they say.” I can see why nothing is stopping by or stepping in. The water looks awfully putrid and a terrible color of green. The water has been in there too long and maybe that’s why nothing wants to dip its toes or beak.

    In a no time at all you’ll have it up to snuff and there’ll be new and exciting life for you to photograph.

    • So, I wondered about the origin of that phrase, and here is one explanation:

      ” ‘Up to snuff’ originated in the early 19th century. In 1811, the English playwright John Poole wrote Hamlet Travestie, a parody of Shakespeare, in the style of Doctor Johnson and George Steevens, which included the expression.

      “He knows well enough The game we’re after: Zooks, he’s up to snuff.” &

      “He is up to snuff, that is, he is the knowing one.” “

  7. What a fun rehab project. I’m sure there will be some beautiful nature shots in your future.

  8. It looks like you have a lot to work with here. ‘Before and After’ pics are a great idea… I look forward to seeing your ‘After’ pics! Good luck with the project.

  9. An exciting project ahead, I think. I was so thrilled to just find a frog in the flower bed this weekend- I immediately put out a little dish of water for him. A pond, hmmm……

  10. Really, a bat detector? That is so cool. Has it detected multiple species? We have Little Brown Bats here, scoffing mosquitoes every evening. Bless them. I love to see their twittering flight at dusk. You pond has so much promise. It will be great fun to watch it come back to life. I wish you many intact frogs and newts 🙂
    Growing up here in Chicago-land there was a newscaster we all loved. Moderate in his reporting, with a gorgeous voice. He became a legend, really. Years passed, he retired and purchased a very large ranch out west and owns a herd of bison. It turns out he kept his estate here in northern Illinois, though, and every year he opens it to artists to paint in his garden. I’d received an invitation through the Chicago Botanic Garden, so I was tentatively proceeding down a long, winding drive through trees. Around a bend, into an opening, and there was my childhood hero, past his knees in the murky water of his pond, wearing waders and a big grin! He waved and went back to work clearing out debris. That is a cherished memory.

    • What a lovely story Melissa. I have only found 2, maybe 3 species so far. All common. I have not seen any recently. It may already be too cold. Not many moths either. It’s not yet 17.30 here but already very gloomy. The seasons are changing fast.

      • I love it that your property is so species-rich. I hope that when spring comes your numbers will climb. Here summer is clinging on rather grimly. Way too hot and humid to stir. Soon enough, I remind myself, there will be snow hurling itself about but then there are snowflakes to study.

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