Wednesday, 17 April 2013
Build it and they will come
Back last year I had a sudden urge to create a little wildlife pond in the garden. I'd heard how important they are to all manner of creatures, and how there is a real shortage of ponds now that farmers have done away with many on their land. I knew it couldn't be too big or too central in our garden, which is, primarily, a football pitch/tennis court/running area for three extremely energetic boys and also a practice chipping area for a golfer (not me). Our garden is not a thing of beauty, more a functional place, with things squeezed in around the edges to leave maximum turfage in the middle. So with this in mind I decided to put the pond right alongside the fence. I drew a few diagrams (I'm that kind of girl) and then headed out with the spade.
This was where the problems started. Our garden is over a layer of rock, albeit crumbly rock, which really doesn't lend itself to deep digging. I excavated what must have been tons of the stuff when I dug raised beds when we first moved in, and about six inches down into the pond hole I struck it again. I have a massive five foot iron bar that we inherited with the house, that is used purely for "digging" in the garden, and my neighbour very kindly set to with that. Another neighbour lent us an enormous pickaxe, and with a great amount of sweat, pain and blisters a small hole was slowly created. I had intended to use a rigid liner, but a huge unbreakable boulder put paid to that idea so I used a flexible liner on top of some beautiful new wool carpet off-cuts that I got from the local Sort-It centre in a highly illegal removal-from-skip manoevre that the nice man in charge let me perform, on the condition that I didn't fall in and sue.
I managed to fill the pond, which is probably about 70 gallons, with rainwater collected in trugs underneath a broken guttering on a single wet bank holiday Monday. I literally spent the day running outside every hour and lugging full trugs up to the pond. The edges are slightly disguised with slate and pebbles, and there are a few little plants - some oxygenating weed, water mint, an iris, a miniature water lily and a water arum. The water lily did send up one perfect little bud, which the littlest boy promptly pulled off. Maybe this year.
But the amazing thing was the wildlife that the pond attracted. Despite being in an open area we had all manner of creatures visiting. And despite not being the most attractive pond you'll ever see, it actually works!
Most fantastic of all, was a frog, who took up residence in the grass alongside. Any time he was disturbed he would perform a fantastic leap straight into the middle of the pond and disappear from sight.
Which brings us to now. All was quiet over the winter, and then the other day the oldest boy came running to find me to tell me there was frog spawn. I asked him if he was sure. He thought he was. I went to inspect. And there it was, masses of it. I mean masses.
I can't imagine how many frogs it took to produce that much. It's a little scary. What are we going to do with all of those froglets? (Remember all the football and tennis and running and golf, not to mention the dangers of the lawnmower.) So, a little anxious, but very excited to watch them develop. Already some of them are out and swimming, although some are much smaller and clearly a different batch. How many frogs have we got already??? I am just hoping that they eat all of the slugs. Otherwise they may have to hop it.