Saturday, 3 October 2009

Tidying the pond

For some time, our garden pond has been overgrown with Iris and Water Lillies. The upshot is that with a little wind, the vegetation is sucking up the water in the pond and leaving the frogs and newts with low water levels. It is time to clean out the pond.
The first stage in the operation is to lay down a tarpaulin and get out the big planting tray. If I am going to remove vegetation and grunge from the pond it will need carefully screening for frogs and newts as well as pond snails. It does help at the start to cut back the vegetation and this was quickly done by Rosie whilst I was working on a way of lifting the Iris plants which were compacted into the side of the pond in a large root mass.
I ended up sawing the roots and rhyzomes to lift the iris plants in 3 blocks. They were trimmed and a selected group were returned to the pond whilst the others were either re-planted elsewhere or disposed of in the compost.
Scooping out the rotting leaf debris and excess water lilly rhizomes was a messy business, as was sifting through the black and smelly mud to check for wildlife. All I found was one newt and a handful of water snails.
A couple of hours later, the pond was full and the water was clear of many of the excess plants. The resident amphibians will now have more space and still have access to some cover. The pond is now better suited to the needs of the animals when the spring breeding season arrives. This usually gives lots of frog spawn and is followed by an abundance of tadpoles and baby newts.
The whole process was conducted whilst the resident frogs were in the pond. They are use to me working around the garden and don't seem to mind the upheaval. The frogs just watch where I am, move out of my way, then return when I have finished.

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