Wildlife Around my Pond
I am so grateful for my little pond; this small area of water attracts many insects to our garden. As well as planting up my pond with aquatic plants that live in water, I’ve planted the narrow border around my pond with garden plants that will attract bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies, and other insects. If you’re interested in growing plants for bees and butterflies, you won’t need a pond or a boggy area of ground to grow these garden plants – they grow in regular garden soil – my plants are growing in free draining, sandy soil; so I’ve chosen mostly drought tolerant plants.
Leucanthemum vulgare is a gorgeous herbaceous perennial and a super plant for bees! As well as bees, I’ve spotted hoverflies, butterflies, and other insects feeding from Leucathemum vulgare flowers. Leucanthemum vulgare is a superb plant, a great choice if you want to add a fun but soft, relaxed and meadowy feel to your garden.
Another fabulous garden plant for bees, butterflies, and hoverflies, is Origanum onites. I’ve spotted countless bees on my plants – here are some of the bees I’ve found on this lovely (and delicious) herb…..
I get so much pleasure from growing plants for bees, butterflies, moths, and other insects. I think insects make the garden come alive! There’s nothing more relaxing than listening to bees buzzing and birds singing.
I can’t tell you how tiny this bee was – it really was mini!
I love watching Leaf Cutter Bees collect pollen on their abdomens, they have some interesting moves! Watching bees is so relaxing, it’s a lovely way to spend time.
Echium vulgare is a fabulous plant for bees! My plants positively vibrate with bees at this time of year. I’ve spotted a few types of bee tending to the flowers. The bee in my photograph above has gathered lots of powder blue pollen.
Teucrium hircanicum is another plant that I’ve grown to support bees, butterflies, and other insects. It’s not the most popular bee plant in my garden, but Teucrium hircanicum is a hardy perennial with spires of purple flowers that the insects enjoy, which needs no special care and reliably grows back each year.
Origanum onites really is an absolutely fabulous plant for bees, butterflies, and hoverflies! This is a true gem that produces these pretty flowers that attract bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. Plus, Origanum onites is a delicious herb, that’s a true blessing in the kitchen, enhancing a wide range of dishes from salads, pizzas, risottos, and more.
Some of the bees that visit my garden are really tiny!
I enjoy growing native wild plants in my garden. This is Stachys sylvatica, also known as Hedge Woundwort, this is a commonly seen wildflower in the UK, that’s very popular with some species of bee. I rarely glance at Stachys sylvatica without spotting at least one Wool Carder Bee.
Here’s another herbaceous perennial – this is Teucrium hircanicum. This is another easy to grow, hardy plant with spires of purple flowers.
Teasels (Dipsacus) self-seed freely, so if you’re growing Teasels in your garden you may need to brace yourself for many new plants! This is another superb plant for wildlife. Bees adore the Teasel’s lilac blooms and when the flowers have faded and this plant’s seed has ripened, birds flock to feast on Teasel seeds; they’re very popular with Goldfinches.
When this pond was installed in 2019, a small Inula hookeri plant was planted in the very narrow border around my pond. This Inula’s zingy yellow daisy flowers have attracted many different bees to this area of my garden.
I have a small container of Clover (Trifolium repens) nestled in amongst the rhubarb I’m growing, in the border around the pond. I adore Clover, this is a super plant for insects. In fact, many of the plants I’m growing around my pond make superb container plants: Origanum onites, Stachys sylvatica, Lotus corniculatus, and Trifolium repens will attract bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and other insects to your garden – a patio full of insect friendly plants would be fabulous!
If you’re planting up containers, you might be interested to see the top performing composts in my Compost Trials – you can see my Compost Trials via this link, here.
It’s always an exciting moment when you see a Stag Beetle! I have a log pile next to my pond for Stag Beetle larvae, invertebrates, and other wildlife; this is where I spotted this female Stag Beetle. Stag Beetles are often seen at this time of year, but these endangered insects are sadly becoming rarer.
One of the reasons for the Stag Beetle’s decline, is that their larvae feed on dead and decaying logs and branches; Stag Beetle larvae can live for up to seven years hidden within log piles or in the soil. Sadly, with development on the increase and gardens becoming ever smaller, not everyone can make room for log pile.
Stag Beetle larvae won’t damage any living tissue or plant material, they only feed on dead and decaying wood; so you need not be concerned that that these insects are a threat to the trees or plants in your garden.
If you see a Stag Beetle, you’re very fortunate. The adult beetles live for a short period of time, during their short lives they’re busy looking for a mate and somewhere to lay eggs.
It’s wonderful to see these fascinating insects, if you want to help Stag Beetles, create a log pile in an out of the way location in your garden, ensure the logs are in contact with the soil and don’t be tempted to dispose of the wood as it breaks down – Stag Beetles rely on there being a continual supply of old, decaying wood for the next generation to succeed. With this in mind, I’m looking to add a few new logs to my log pile this year; I try to add at least a couple of new logs every couple of years.
I often spot Ladybirds in my garden; here’s a picture I took of a Ladybird sheltering in amongst a Valeriana officinalis seed head.
Ranunculus flammula has been adding a sprinkling of these small, sunny buttercup flowers to the pond for some time now. I often spot hoverflies around the flowers, but they’re usually too far away or moving too quickly, for me to get a photograph.
There hasn’t been as many flowers gracing my pond recently. One of the reasons for this, is the fact that my aquatic plants have not receive any fertiliser this spring or summer. If your aquatic plants are less floriferous than you would like, make sure you remember to add aquatic fertiliser to your plants’ compost; the best time to do this is at the start of the growing season, in springtime.
Frustratingly, as this pond is positively rammed into such a tiny space, the only way to navigate around my pond, is to clamber on the stones that surround the water and step from stone to stone, and in places from stone to log, to access the plants.
Due it being so difficult to get around the pond, I’ve not yet managed to give my aquatic plants their fertiliser tablets, which is quite ridiculous, I know! I have felt really quite irritated with myself for not managing to supply these hungry plants with any supplemental feed, but I’ve skipped feeding the plants for the moment, as I was anxious about the risk of accidentally harming the newts or wildlife in the pond. I simply don’t want to risk a newt, frog or toad being squashed, (what could be worse?) so these aquatic plants have been without any fertiliser during this growing and flowering season.
I have wondered whether I could administer the fertiliser tablets using a long handled tool of some kind, but so far I’ve not managed it. I’ve missed the boat this year, but I will come up with something before next spring comes around.
I was wondering whether my waterlilies would bother to flower at all, as I know these are particularly hungry plants that bloom so much more prolifically with fertiliser; so I was thrilled when I spotted my first waterlily flowers of 2020!
When you’re looking at plants online, it’s not always easy to gauge an accurate size of the plants and flowers. This photograph shows two of my waterlilies, Nymphaea ‘Chubby’ and Nymphaea ‘Pygmaea Helvola’. ‘Chubby’ produces large pale pink flowers, while Nymphaea ‘Pygmaea Helvola’ is a much smaller waterlily, with white flowers. They’re both gorgeous! I’m so fortunate to have waterlilies growing in my pond.
As you can see, this pond is still swamped with algae! I’ve continued with the natural algae treatments I mentioned in my last update, but I’ve not seen any improvement at all, as yet. Thankfully, ‘Chubby’ is holding its flower up above the algae; isn’t it beautiful?
Nymphaea ‘Chubby’ flowers are a very delicate pink colour. I always think waterlilies are terribly glamorous, they have such poise and elegance. Every part of the waterlily is beautiful, just look at those gorgeous leaves!
Since I published my last pond update, I’ve seen many more butterflies, which is a great relief! Earlier this summer, I was concerned, as I hadn’t spotted as many butterflies as usual. In fact, I think I’d only spotted a couple of these lovely insects then.
Thankfully, I’ve seen countless Holly Blue Butterflies, an abundance of Large and Small White Butterflies, as well as a number of Commas, Gatekeepers, Meadow Brown Butterflies, and a few Red Admirals, since my last update. I haven’t seen any Painted Ladies yet, but there’s still time.
At this time of year, it’s important to regularly deadhead your annual, biennials, and some perennial plants to keep them flowering. Scabious are really free flowering plants, but if you’re growing this plant you’ll enjoy many more flowers, if you deadhead the faded flowers. I think spent Scabious blooms are every bit as attractive as the flowers, they make a handsome addition to a vase and are also popular with some of the birds in my garden, who enjoy feasting on the ripe seed.
If you’re interested in butterflies, you can see the results of all my Butterfly Counts, via this link, here.
My pond attracts many more hoverflies to my garden, but often the hoverflies are just out of reach of my photographs or they don’t stay still for long!
Dragonflies and Damselflies
I’ve seen lots of dragonflies and damselflies around my pond, but they usually don’t stop long enough for a photograph! This is the only picture I’ve managed to take since my last update.
I love looking out for moths! I often spot moths in my garden when I’m surveying my plants but I also have a moth trap that I used to record the moths found around the pond, in my garden.
I grow as many plants as I can for moths. I’ve got quite a few Honeysuckles (Lonicera periclymenum) in my garden, including a large specimen that’s just next to my pond. I find that once my Honeysuckle’s flowers fade, if I deadhead my plant it will re-bloom in about a month’s time. I adore the scent of Honeysuckle, it’s such a treat that makes the summer evenings even more special.
The wings of this fascinating Buff Arches Moth resemble flint or stone! Isn’t nature amazing? Every time I find a Buff Arches Moth, I am mesmerised by this moth’s markings, they are fascinating!
I spot this Least Carpet Moth quite frequently in my garden, I often think it looks rather like a bird dropping!
There are a few moths that resemble bird droppings! But many more moths possess wings with colours or markings that resemble bark. These moths often display incredible camouflage that enables them to blend in, allowing the moths to go unnoticed when they’re resting on tree trunks, branches, log piles, or fences.
Other moths resemble leaves. The Canary-shouldered Thorn Moth has wings that resemble decaying leaves, which we often spot at this time of year, in late summertime.
Moths often have fantastic camouflage that helps them to hide in plain sight. It took me a while to spot this moth!
I recently purchased a new light for my moth trap. I was so excited to see what difference the brighter light would make! I tried my new moth light out on the night of the 7th August 2020 – when I caught many more moths than usual.
I use my moth trap to record what moths visit my garden. The moths are released as soon as they have been recorded (and sometimes photographed); although many of the moths I catch fly off before they have been counted!
This is the Ruby Tiger Moth, have you seen its amazing red legs?
The Peach Blossom Moth is stunning; this is such a beautiful insect! If you saw a picture of this moth in a magazine or book, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this beauty would really stand out in the garden; actually, the Peach Blossom Moth’s wings provide this moth with the ability to hide in daylight in log piles and in the undergrowth.
Weekly natural algae treatments have been added to our pond consistently, over a long period of time. Despite these continuous treatments, sadly, the amount of algae in the pond doesn’t seem to be reducing.
It’s easy to remove algae by hand, just twirl a stick or pole around the blanket weed, to wind the algae around the stick and remove it. You can remove huge amounts of algae using this twirling technique! If you try this method, make sure you leave the collected algae by the side of the pond, to allow any creatures that became gathered up in the algae to return to the water.
I’ve not wanted to remove any algae by hand for some months now, as I didn’t want to risk unsettling any newts that might be mating or laying eggs in the water. We used the twirling technique once last month, as one of the plants was choked with algae. These young newts came out with the spool of algae but were swiftly returned to the pond.
It’s so interesting to see the newts in water and to see their feathery gills in action. I feel so grateful that we have newts breeding and living in and around our garden pond.
I have lots of water snails in my garden pond, but they’re not easy to take a picture of. I’ve not purchased any water snails, they arrived all on their own accord.
I don’t use any slug pellets; I have no wish to kill any slugs or snails. If I want to protect any new seedlings or precious plants, I use a range of truly efficient natural methods, that I’ve trialled and tested and found to effective countless times over, during my Slug and Snail Trials.
To see the next update from my wildlife pond, please click here.
For photos and info on plants to attract bees and butterflies, please click here.
If you’re interested, you can find all of the articles I’ve written about my pond, here.
For tips and advice on how to create a meadow, please click here.