Now we’re in the middle of what passes for a British summer, I’ve turned my attention away from the inside of the house and started organising some external repairs and renovations. I wasn’t going to do much with the garden until everything else was finished, but then I decided I wanted a bike-shed, and that somehow led into the rebuilding of two box-beds, the replacement of the borders of several more areas of beds, the repainting of various walls, and the building of a whole new box-bed where some overgrown climbing plants had hidden more than a metre of extra garden depth up against the back wall. All that lot has left me with a lot of planting to plan out, although one rebuilt box-bed was instantly filled with leeks and golden beetroot plants that had been languishing in various tubs.
As for the other rebuilt box-bed… both the houses I grew up in had ponds, and I’ve been wanting to create a pond of my own for a long time, especially after seeing the display pond that Derbyshire Wildlife Trust made out of an old tyre for Chatsworth Country Fair last year. I spoke nicely to the guys at the local ATS after they repaired a puncture for me in the spring, and came home with two big chunky low-profile tyres that looked ideal for my purpose, and wouldn’t need the sidewalls cutting off as some websites had advised I do.
In the end I only used one tyre, but the other is bound to come in useful for something else later. I dug the hole myself, but ended up getting help from someone with bigger hands to cut-down and bed-in the liner (in fact he finished the job completely while I was showing another useful chap how far we’d progressed with the creation of my hobby and storage space in the loft). The pipe came from the same place as the liner, although I’ll be letting my pond (mostly) fill with rain water, rather than providing any kind of water supply (or indeed piped drainage.
Most of the plants around the pond were donated by a work colleague whose garden is much larger and better developed than mine, and who is constantly thinning out plants she then can’t bear to throw away. I added one extra ornamental grass that I liked the look of when I visited the plant sales section at Newby Hall, along with a small metal and stone bird that I bought from the visiting Zimbabwean sculptors (when the garden works are finished and I have some spare cash, I’ll go back and buy one or two of their larger works).
Most of the rocks came out of my garden, but a few were scavenged from elsewhere, along with the logs to allow amphibians to climb in and out or to bask. The metal dragonfly came from Hardwick Hall, and the pond plants came from the wonderfully named Transcontinental Goldfish. A few very small creatures have taken up residence already, but I’ve been promised pond-snails by a neighbour whose pond is rather overpopulated with them. Hopefully in the spring I’ll be able to encourage visits from frogs and newts too.
And seeing as I have scaffolding all over the back of my house at the moment, I climbed up on Friday night and took some pictures of the whole garden (more or less – the scaffolding stands on a two metre wide patio that I couldn’t get into my shots).
There’s more information about creating ponds for wildlife on the Wild About Gardens website.