Gardening: Make a splash – water features
Water adds movement and sound to your garden, and will act as a magnet for wildlife, says
The sight and sound of water gives a garden soul. It’s one of the most appealing elements as it creates a cool and mystical atmosphere, adding drama, music and excitement!
Just like a flickering fire on a winter’s day, gazing at the reflections on the pond’s glassy surface or watching fish darting in the hidden depths will lift your spirits after even the most difficult day.
Designing a pond depends on your imagination, and on how much interest you have in encouraging wildlife. Fish, frogs, dragonflies, newts, water snails, nymphs…the species one little pond can support are numerous.
To create a stunning garden feature, you can opt for a sunken pond which you excavate and then line with special pond liners (pondkeeper.co.uk), or a prefabricated, rigid pond. Alternatively, choose a raised pond (see No room for a pond?, far right) that can be planted and brought to life with fish, aquatic plants and maybe a fountain or other water feature. Or leave it as a still, reflective pool that brings the everchanging sky down to earth.
Most pond-keepers recommend using a pump to keep water clear, but in open water you’ll find that by introducing aquatic plants you’re able
to maintain clear water and prevent algae. Lush planting and colourful blooms are the key to transforming what could otherwise be seen as a dark muddy hole in the ground into a sparkling ornamental pond. They provide colour and texture, and balance the gases and minerals released by algae and fish, keeping the water crystal-clear and reflective.
In medium-sized ponds, you can go for more ambitious planting if you created shelves around the perimeter of the pond when you excavated the hole. On these shelves you should be able to sit baskets planted with marginal plants that don’t thrive in deeper water; marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), which grows to 30cm tall and produces bright yellow buttercup-like flowers in early spring, is ideal. Japanese Iris (Iris laevigata), available in various shades of blue and white, will grow around the edges of ponds in boggy soil and just a few inches of water.
The ornamental bulrush,
Typha latifolia ‘Variegata’, and the exotic arum lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Crowborough’, need a water depth of around 30-45cm, so are more suited to larger ponds. Once leafy plants like water lilies are established, though, fairy moss, which is especially rampant, will need thinning out or removing.
Keeping it clear Oxygenating plants like the feathery water milfoil and the seaweed-like curled goldfish weed (Canadian pondweed), are the lungs of the pond, pumping out essential oxygen,
and are vital for keeping the water clear. Another, Hornwort, will grow in sun or shade, and is easy to control as it doesn’t root – simply drop it in the water.
In a small pond (2.5m x 2m) you’ll need 15 bunches to aerate the water, and 35 bunches for a pond up to 5m x 3.6m. Pot up a bunch or two, in small aquatics baskets, and position the containers 90cm apart on the pond floor.
Adding a solar pump and fountainhead (from £14.99, primrose.co.uk) can improve the circulation of water in your pond, helping fish and plants to thrive – and there are no running costs.
Marsh marigolds thrive in the