Gardeners World Frances Tophill visits a congested pond

Gardeners World Frances Tophill visits a congested pond

Gardeners World programme showed Frances Tophill at a customer's pond to do Autumn Maintenance on a congested pond. It was so 'tangled with plants' that they could hardly see the water at all. Nor could the wildlife creatures that no longer seemed to be visiting that pond as much as they had been.

Ponds need tending at least once a year or they will become a tangle of plants! A clean out in Autumn will get the pond ready for next year and prevent rotting down and decay in the pond water over Winter.

Frances had a good sort out and cleared out a large clump of tall, yellow flowering British Native Iris pseudacorus from the small pond, an overgrown Caltha palustris and lifted out a large waterlily too. The whole water area was too full of plants and congested.

The Iris pseudacorus did not go back into the pond at the end of the clean as it was too tall and would always grow too fast. It is a strong growing British Native plant. An alternative would have been to replace it with a smaller growing Iris versicolor variety. These are shorter growing and not so vigorous but they would still have a beneficial flower in May for pollinators and leaf growth for dragon and damselflies to climb up to emerge as adults.

The Caltha palustris (Marsh Marigold) was broken into smaller clumps and one was repotted to go back into the pond (see our step by step method in our Tips and Advice pages).

The waterlily was cut into smaller pieces of rhizome, each with a shoot and some roots (see our step by step method to remind yourself of the stages). One of the repotted pieces was placed back into the deepest part of the small pond.

The remaining pieces of Caltha palustris and waterlily could be potted up to be given away to friends.

The Pontederia cordata was lifted and trimmed back - if the foliage had fallen into the water it would cause a great deal of slimy decay as the stems are high in cellulose. It was left in the pond because of its benefit to bumble bees and other pollinators. It has a later flowering period than most other pond plants so is a valued addition to any garden pond.

She also added a basket of Mentha aquatica to a shallow shelf which will raft out across the water and give a horizontal protective shelter to wildlife visitors and a scented flower for pollinators. The foliage also smells of Mint when crushed between the fingers. Equisetum scirpoides, the miniature barred rush, was also added to sit on the small shelf by the ramp she made out of rocks and cobbles to enable the amphibian wildlife to escape the pond water when they were ready.

As they completed the day's work a frog appeared by the water and jumped in. That shows that 'if you build it ( a pond) the wildlife will come'. 

Nothing attracts wildlife to the garden like water but you need to do some work in the pond in Autumn to keep it all under control.

Plants and Tips referred to in this week's article: