ponds and water plants
The Titchfield Gardeners' Club were entertained by an excellent talk from Ray Broughton in May who has been teaching a wide range of horticultural subject for over 39 years. He focused on starting a pond, the type of water plants he favoured and how to get rid of some of the pond menaces.
Starting a pond
When siting a pond, he emphasised the need for a good soak away to drain excess water and the need for the pond to be in at least one third shade. Also, the pond should not be built at the bottom of a slope as there would be no chance for good drainage. Avoid building a raised pond as the pressure of water could weaken the sides unless reinforced.
Having dug the hole, smoothed the base with sand and laid out a liner, a useful tip to avoid creases in the liner is to place bricks evenly round the surface of the liner while filling with water. If you must make underwater joins or repair leaks in the liner, he recommended a gas welder that works under water, and to use a beetroot dye to find the leak.
A tip to avoid algae is to wait a while before introducing new plants into your pond. Put them in warm water for 4 hours to soak to remove impurities.
With duck weed he suggested washing new water plants before planting out to minimise the risk. If already present, then suck out with a water vac and in the winter wipe down the edges to remove the seeds.
Algae bloom often arrives about this time of year and is removed by cleaning the bottom of the pond to within 4 inches of silt. This job best done in July when all the tadpoles and other pond life has matured.
To clear the pond water, he suggested small bricks of organic barley straw (rabbit bedding) be placed in the pond every 3 square metres at the beginning of May. Every month the bricks should be carefully removed in a bucket to avoid contamination and replaced with another bale until the end of September.
Pond plants recommended
Caltha Palustris – commonly known as marsh buttercup
Acorus Gramineous variegatus – ornamental grass up to 30cm in hight; needs to be in a pot as spreads
Zantedeschia aethiopia – known as Arum Lily with normally a white flower
Primula Japonica – a robust and vigorous plant normally known as Japanese Primrose.
Mentha Aquatica – a good plant for attracting wildlife and fertilizes the soil. Needs to be in a pot.
Lobelia Cardinalis – a nice red plant that likes to be semi submerged
Juncus effusus f. spiralis – different texture sometimes known as the corkscrew rush with twisted grasses
Iris Laevigata – known as Japanese iris; likes shallow marshy waters in shades of blue, purple, and white.
Statiotes albides – known as water soldiers; unusual pineapple top foliage that sinks in winter and turns purple
Nymphaea Cus – water lily – he favoured the smaller leaf North American variety for garden ponds
At the end of an enjoyable evening, with lots of anecdotes, we were all enthused to go wading in with our rabbit bedding and sort out our ponds!