There is something very soothing to the soul to live near water, and if you can’t get a sea view in London then at least you can sit by a pond. (By this I mean a wildlife pond, not some unnatural Koi fishpond, you won’t get much wildlife around that!) I grew up with a mother who was a primary school teacher and every Spring we had to go frog spawn hunting so that she could teach the cycle of life to a new generation of pupils. It’s actually a rather horrid lesson, when you think of the thousands of tadpoles and how many actually make it to Froghood. Everything eats tadpoles! I used to spend my days trying to save them from newts and blackbirds etc., only to find they did something stupid like sunbathe on a lily leaf until they frizzled up.
Hooking duckweed etc out of my pond was a lengthy process as I had to help each little black blob back into the water. I have great respect for Gardeners World and Monty, but he’s absolutely wrong when he says to just “leave the weeds on the side of the pond for a while and the creatures will crawl back in”. They jolly well don’t, and you go back to find these poor little Ramshorn snails and water slaters gasping away on the bank, or worse, idiotically crawling away from the pond. The only things that seem to be able to wriggle back in are leeches and diving beetle larvae (– which also eat tadpoles…).
Anyway, I am now older and wiser, or perhaps just have better things to do. We have so many toads and frogs that come back to our 30 year old pond every year that it has dawned on me nature carries on working without needing my help. I do still net the pond at mating time when the Heron and Crows come down for party snacks, and I don’t mow near the pond in July when the froglets are leaving to make their way in the Big Wide World, after one traumatic year.. It seems to work!
Apparently 1 in 7 of us now have a garden pond, which act as a network for wildlife since so many agricultural ones have gone. Our recent survey of CABAHS members showed that 32% have a pond, so we are much better than the average! Apparently in 1890 there were 1.25 million ponds in the UK, a mix of natural ponds and dew ponds created by farmers for livestock. About 70% of those have been lost or are polluted with fertiliser and pesticide run-off. Or salty runoff from de-icing the roads. So garden wildlife ponds are increasingly important, not to mention a whole lot of fun!
Here are some pictures of mine, trying to turn itself into a bog garden at this time of year, but very full of life.