Gardener's World Frances Tophill visits a congested pond

Gardener's World Frances Tophill visits a congested pond

Gardeners World showed Frances Tophill at a customer's pond to do Autumn Maintenance on a congested pond.

The pond was so 'tangled with plants' when she arrived there was hardly any water to see. Wildlife creatures no longer visited the pond.

  • 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.

How to tackle a congested pond:

Frances cleared out the whole water area which was too full of plants.

She removed 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 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. 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.
  • She divided the Caltha palustris (Marsh Marigold) into smaller clumps and repotted one section and replaced it in the pond. (See our step by step method in our Tips and Advice pages). Pot up the remaining pieces of Caltha palustris and waterlily to give away to friends.
  • Frances cut the rhizome of the waterlily into smaller pieces. Each piece had a shoot and some roots. (See our step by step method to remind yourself of the stages). Place one of the repotted pieces back into the deepest part of the pond.
  • 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. Keep the Pontederia cordata in the pond because it benefits 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 smells of Mint when crushed between the fingers.
  • Equisetum scirpoides, the miniature barred rush, was added to sit on the small shelf by the ramp 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', said Frances Tophill in delight.

Nothing attracts wildlife to the garden like water!

Remember to work in the pond in Autumn to keep it all under control.

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