An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Springtime

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Springtime

Here’s a view of my wildlife pond earlier this spring. I took this picture on the 15th March 2021, just as my aquatic plants began emerging.

Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond in springtime.  Spring is a fascinating time to observe a pond and watch wildlife, as the water is literally teaming with life; amphibians are mating, and new insects are emerging and appearing every day!  Whenever I’m in my garden, I’m always drawn to our pond – on the look out for newts and insects, and eager to see how my plants are developing.

Savouring the first flowers of the year, as my insect-friendly aquatic plants spring into bloom!

My Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ plants have been in bloom since the beginning of March; it’s always such a joy to see these charming plants in flower.  This is a compact and rather demure Marsh Marigold with sweet little, dainty flowers.  I hold a deep affection for Marsh Marigolds, they’re one of my favourite plants.  I grow three different varieties in this pond.  Double-flowered Marsh Marigolds are also available, but I avoid these forms, as their flowers aren’t accessible to bees, butterflies, and other insects.

I personally prefer the look of single-flowered forms of almost all plants – although I must say that I do also admire double-flowered roses as well as single-flowered forms.  With roses, I find that deliciously fragrant forms are harder to resist – I am always looking for single-flowered roses with beautiful fragrances, that also attract bees and butterflies.

Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ is a naturally small-sized aquatic plant that flowers much earlier in the year than my other Marsh Marigolds and aquatic plants. This Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ plant is pictured in flower, in my wildlife pond, on the 15th March 2021.

I’ve never managed to get close enough to Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ or any of my Marsh Marigolds whilst they’re flowering to discern whether any of these plants produce fragrant flowers.  I assume that Marsh Marigolds don’t produce a scent that we can detect – but this is just an assumption I’ve made.

Let me give you a closer look at Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ flowers; aren’t they pretty? I adore these early blooming delights; every pond no matter how small can accommodate this dainty Marsh Marigold. Pictured on the 15th March 2021.

Pond algae – blanket weed – update

As you can see from my pictures, unfortunately, there is still a considerable amount of algae in my pond.  Although I’ve not noticed any improvements, I’ve continued adding weekly treatments of Ecopond Eco-friendly Barley-Bio Algae Control throughout autumn, winter, spring, and summer, as this product is reputed to control algae.  As I’ve already paid for this product and I’m assured that it’s natural and safe for wildlife; I figured that I may as well continue using the treatment – at least until the bottle is empty.  As I can’t see any noticeable effect, I wouldn’t buy this product again – unless the algae in my wildlife pond starts visibly increasing when the treatments stop.  I’ve also added packs of barley straw to the pond, which I am happy to continue doing.

A small scoop of algae, taken from my pond on the 15th March 2021. I always make sure that any algae taken from my pond is deposited at the side of the water, so any creatures can easily return to the water.

I am always a little anxious about scooping algae out of the pond.  Although I’m absolutely desperate to remove the algae and I’m incredibly interested and utterly fascinated to see what’s living in the pond water; I really don’t want to do anything that might disturb or distress the newts or any of the other pond dwellers.

When tending your pond, it’s especially important to be mindful of your activities in springtime, as newts, frogs, and toads, are all courting and mating at this time of year.  In recent years, I have only seen newts in my pond, but tadpoles of frogs and toads, and efts (baby newts) are currently developing in ponds across the country and beyond; as a result, do please limit your actions and interventions in your pond during this critical time of year for amphibians.  Even if you’ve not spotted any newts, toads, or frogs in your own pond, these amphibians are likely to be present; left alone they could breed successfully in your garden.  Newts are usually active under the cover of darkness, and when they are around in the daytime they can easily go unnoticed, aided by their excellent camouflage.

Another anxiety I have when clearing algae from my wildlife pond is a fear that I might accidentally scoop up water dwelling wildlife, like a small dragonfly larvae, and leave them tangled up in the algae, trapped out of the water at the side of the pond.  To minimise this risk, we check the net thoroughly after using it, dipping the net into into the water to look for movement or any signs of life in amongst the algae, before we remove the algae from the net.  We also only collect small amounts of algae at once; this is another precaution I take to avoid trapping wildlife within the algae we remove from the water.  Any pond life that was unfortunate enough to be gathered up during our collections would find it easier to escape from a smaller algae deposit than a larger and heavier tangle of blanket weed.

When collecting more than one section of algae, I take care to leave the algae in at least two separate areas – usually on top of stones in shaded areas, at the side of the water.  I never deposit a dose of algae onto another freshly deposited algae stash, as this could trap any pond dwellers inside the algae, making it more challenging for them to return to the water; instead, I gently spread the algae onto various stones right at the edge of the waterside.

When removing algae from your pond, choose a rainy or overcast day if possible; as this will ensure the algae will remain wetter for longer, after you’ve removed it from the pond.  This will be beneficial for any pond life caught up in the algae.

The algae we remove from our wildlife pond is always left in a shady position, on top of the stones and pebbles, at the water’s edge, but away from bright sunshine.  This is to prevent the sun from drying out the moisture in the algae too rapidly, which might also dehydrate or harm any pond life that could be embedded inside.

Whenever algae is removed from my wildlife pond, I document it in my regular pond updates – using my updates, you can find out what methods I’m using to control algae, see pictures of exactly how much algae I’ve lifted out of the water, and discover how successful or unsuccessful my efforts are.  Another method that I recommend for removing algae is to simply twirl a stick or a bamboo cane around the algae – this is another quick and effective method that we regularly use later in the year.  We’ve used the net on this occasion, as in springtime I find it easier to spot dragonfly larvae and other smaller creatures in amongst the algae when using the net.  When we use a stick, I am concerned whether any pond life might be accidentally bundled up within the swirl of algae!

I took one tiny scoop of algae, which was lifted from the surface of the water, on the 15th March 2021.

If you’re planning to use a net to remove algae from your own pond, try and keep the net in the upper water levels.  Don’t be tempted to dip into the deeper water, as you could knock or unbalance your aquatic plants from their positions; or worse still, you could end up dredging the base of your pond – which wouldn’t be good for wildlife!

This piece of Vallisneria spiralis was taken out of my pond to take this quick snap and then returned to the water. Pictured on the 15th March 2021.

I fished out this Vallisneria spiralis leaf that was floating on the surface of the water to show you these water snails eggs (I put the leaf back in the water afterwards).  Water snails lay their eggs all over the place, but newts are more particular.  Newts lay their eggs under the water on aquatic plants with foliage that allows the newt to wrap a leaf around her egg to protect it.  Newt eggs are laid singularly.

In my wildlife pond, I’ve grown plants that I know to be popular with newts, like: Potamogeton Crispus, Ceratophyllum Demersum, Vallisneria spiralis, and Vallisneria spiralis, as I want to create the perfect habitat and encourage newts to lay their eggs in my wildlife pond.  Each year we see young efts in the water, but I’ve never seen a newt egg.  However, I’ve never made any attempt to see a newt egg – I wouldn’t wish to take the risk in case I moved a leaf and harmed the egg, or discouraged a newt from laying eggs.

A dragonfly nymph, pictured on the 15th March 2021. This larvae was returned to water immediately after this photograph was taken.

There are lots of dragonfly and damselfly nymphs or larvae in our wildlife pond.  We found this damselfly larvae in the net on the 15th March – I quickly snapped this picture and then we popped him safely back into the water.

Choosing the right pond planters to achieve a pleasing and natural look for your aquatic plants

These Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ plants are pictured in flower, in my wildlife pond, on the 15th March 2021. I don’t like this single file formation at all; it certainly isn’t the result I expected when I purchased the curved planter that these aquatic plants are growing in. I desperately wish that I had planted all of my aquatic plants in individual planters; I hope my mistake helps you to improve the look of the planting in your pond.

When I planted up my pond, I purchased a few longer, curved aquatic planters.  These arch shaped planters can be planted with a number of plants, which meant they worked out as more cost effective than purchasing individual planters and the curved planters enabled me to grow more plants in a smaller space, which seemed simply marvellous at the time!  However, in hindsight, I deeply regret buying and using these planters, as the lovely curved shape I was envisaging in my planting has not transferred over to the pond; instead I have what looks distinctly like a strictly regimented and unnatural long line of Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ plants growing in single file!

This stern looking planting is nothing like my naturalistic planting style – it’s not a look I admire at all.  However for the time being at least, I will have to leave the planters as they are, as I’m already over my gardening budget for this year!  Certainly, when an opportunity arises to move these plants into individual or more pleasing planters I will take that chance.  I mention this in case you’re thinking of setting up a pond or you’re looking for new aquatic planters – I wouldn’t recommend the curved planters I’ve used, as a far more pleasing effect can be created using individual aquatic planters.

My wildlife pond looks rather stark in early spring, but this gives me the opportunity to show you just how narrow the border around my pond is. I don’t recommend narrow borders – I dream of space to accommodate a wide border! My aquatic plants don’t look their best until June. The plants around my pond are now starting into growth. Pictured on the 15th March 2021.

Thankfully, I also have at least two Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ plants growing in smaller, individual aquatic planters.  I feel really fortunate to have these plants, as I adore Marsh Marigolds and I am especially fond of this dainty white-flowered form.  This plant comes with a huge benefit, as Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ produces flowers early in the year, before my other aquatic plants are ready to even consider showing themselves.

Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ is the bravest of my aquatic plants. This dainty plant is always the first of my Marsh Marigolds and aquatic plants to come into bloom. Pictured on the 19th March 2021.

Adding a stone stack and planting another clematis

We’ve recently added this simple stone stack to provide another space for wildlife near the pond. There are quite a few weeds carpeting the ground in this area – I try to keep the weeds that are most beneficial to wildlife and remove any plants that aren’t as useful for insects.

Since my last update, we’ve planted another clematis to cloak the fence in summertime and we’ve created a simple stone stack, which has twigs and prunings hidden in the centre.  I hope this stack of stone slabs will provide another habitat for wildlife; perhaps it will become a refuge for newts?

A view of my wildlife pond, as pictured in the spring sunshine on the 19th March 2021. By summertime, this stone cairn will be covered by the plants growing around it.

Spotting a newt!

I was so happy to find a newt in my pond! I spotted this newt diving to the bottom of my pond on the 19th March 2021. I love this picture, as it perfectly demonstrates how effective a newt’s camouflage is – this newt is hidden in plain sight. You may have newts that you’ve not yet become acquainted with in your pond.

I was very excited to spot this newt swimming down to the bottom of the pond!  I actually saw this newt from the other side of my pond; I was looking onto the water when I noticed this newt’s beautiful tail as it swam against the current created by my Oase AquaSkim 20 pond skimmer.  I must say that in my photograph, you can really see just how effective the newt’s camouflage is – this newt perfectly blends in with the stems of the aquatic plants, being the same colour and displaying a similar texture, too.

Update: Please note: I do not recommend using the Oase AquaSkim 20 for use in wildlife ponds – please see this update for more information.

This sweet little Marsh Marigold is one of my favourite plants. I adore its sweet character and its bravery to flower at this time of year. Caltha palustris ‘Alba’, pictured in bloom on the 19th March 2021.

Growing spring flowers in and around my pond

I’ve planted Primula vulgaris in the area around my wildlife pond. The soil is sandy and free draining in this area. Pictured on the 19th March 2021.

I’ve got quite a few Primula vulgaris plants peppered around my garden, as I am very fond of these dear little plants.  I grow primroses near our wildlife pond and I also leave dandelions, daisies, and other wild plants that have self-seeded themselves in this area.  Faded plant stems make excellent homes for overwintering insects and decaying plant material actually benefits our plants, helping to protect them from the harshness of the winter weather, so to pass these benefits on to the plants and insects in my garden, I delay clearing up any dead plant material until springtime.

In addition, I’m growing plants for summer flowers.  I hope with all my heart that the fence behind my pond will eventually be covered with climbers this summer.  I simply cannot wait to dress my fence with plants – I am so tired of seeing my fence!  Cloaking the fence with plants will enhance this area, it will also provide more shelter and food for birds and insects.

Here’s another picture of Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ growing in a straight line (in a curved planter), pictured on the 21st March 2021.

Here’s another view of my Marsh Marigolds growing in their curved planter – as you can see, the curve of the planter hasn’t transferred to the planting – these Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ plants look very regimented and unnatural in their arrangement.  Planted in individual planters these aquatic plants would look so much more pleasing!

Tweaking the waterfall

My waterfall changes frequently, sometimes because we’ve adjusted it to our liking and sometimes because birds, the weather, and the force of the water has made its own adaptions. Here’s the waterfall as pictured on the 21st March 2021.

I’d be fiddling about with this waterfall much more often if I could get to it more easily!  We usually work as a team, with my husband moving the stones around to assemble the waterfall, while I make suggestions and give directions.

I’ve used these broken slabs to create a damp refuge for newts, frogs, and toads. Here’s the waterfall, as pictured on the 21st March 2021.

The waterfall is better than it was, but it’s still far from perfect!  I hope to make some improvements soon.

I’d like to make the waterfall look more natural and beautiful but more than anything I want to ensure that this waterfall is comfortable for birds to bathe in. Here’s the waterfall as pictured on the 22nd March 2021.

Behind the waterfall, we have another log pile and ivy – Hedera helix – a superb plant for wildlife!

Moths

It has been a cold spring so far, the cooler temperatures we’ve experienced has meant that fewer insects were active in these challenging conditions.  We set our moth trap up for the first time this year, on the 22nd March 2021.  We found these three moths inside the trap on the morning of the 23rd March 2021….

We caught this brown moth in our moth trap, next to the pond, on the 23rd March 2021.
We caught this Hebrew Character Moth (Orthosia gothica) in our moth trap, next to the pond, on the 23rd March 2021.
We caught this silvery-brown coloured moth in our moth trap, which was set up right next to the pond, on the 23rd March 2021.
A view of my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 23rd March 2021. The plants and algae in my pond are beginning to ramp up the rate of their growth.
A view of my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 23rd March 2021. Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ are currently in flower and buds are currently forming on one of my other Caltha palustris varieties.

Adding new aquatic plants to my wildlife pond

Springtime is the perfect time of year to purchase any new aquatic plants for your pond from your local nursery, garden centre, or online.  I’ve looked longingly at a number of aquatic plants online for sometime and I decided to order a couple of additional aquatic plants for our pond in March 2021.  The plants I’ve ordered won’t be visible in my pictures of my pond, as they all grow underwater.  After planting these aquatic plants, my pond won’t look any different when viewed from above the waterline in my garden, but under the water, in the newts’ watery world, hopefully these new aquatic plants will make my pond a more welcoming and happier place for newts.

This is Ceratophyllum demersum, also known as Hornwort.

On the 27th March 2021, I introduced a Potamogeton crispus plant and Ceratophyllum demersum.  These plants are both oxygenating plants that grow submerged under the water.  I’ve left the Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum) to float in the pond; while the Potamogeton crispus plant was potted into a container of aquatic, peat-free compost.

A look into my pond on the 27th March 2021. Although they’re not visible in the picture; I took this photo after introducing some new plants to my pond. I’ve added these submerged aquatic plants to improve the growing conditions underwater for newts, but my pond won’t appear any different in my pictures, as the plants grow under the water.

I chose to buy Potamogeton crispus, as I know that this is a plant that newts like to lay their eggs on.  Potamogeton crispus is a submerged aquatic plant that grows in the wild in natural UK ponds.  My plant is growing in an aquatic basket, which I’ve lined with hessian, filled with peat-free, aquatic compost, and positioned in the deepest area of my wildlife pond.  My wildlife pond’s deep end is in the centre of my pond, where the water is around 90cm (just under 3ft) deep.

Here’s another view of my pond, as seen on the 27th March 2021. The aquatic plants take a while to get going, but they are becoming bushier with more lush leaf growth.
This Marsh Marigold would fit into any small pond – this is a small aquatic plant with a naturally miniaturised and contained growth and habit. Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ is pictured in flower on the 27th March 2021.

More moths!

I just adore growing plants for wildlife.  I grow as many plants as possible that provide food for insects.  In the daytime, it’s easier to gauge how successful garden plantings are for bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and other pollinating insects; whereas at night, it’s more challenging to establish how popular our garden plants are with night-flying moths; as we tend to be indoors whilst they’re active.

Since my winter update, we’ve only set our moth trap up twice.  The weather has been cold and frosty; these are difficult conditions for moths.  I knew that few moths would be flying in these temperatures and so I only set the moth trap up during two of our warmest weeks.  Here are the moths we caught in our second moth trapping session of the year….

This Small Quaker Moth (Orthosia cruda) was caught on the 31st March 2021.
I caught this Hebrew Character Moth (Orthosia gothica) on the 31st March 2021. This is a commonly seen moth.
Here’s another Hebrew Character Moth (Orthosia gothica), which was also caught on the 31st March 2021.
I caught this Brindled Beauty Moth (Lycia hirtaria) on the 31st March 2021. This is a commonly seen moth during the months of March and April.
Here’s a side view of a Brindled Beauty Moth (Lycia hirtaria).
I caught this Oak Beauty Moth (Biston strataria) on the 31st March 2021. This is another commonly seen moth during the months of March and April.
Here’s another Oak Beauty Moth (Biston strataria), which was also caught on the 31st March 2021.
I caught this Twin-spotted Quaker Moth (Anorthoa munda) on the 31st March 2021.
A Small Quaker Moth (Orthosia cruda), also caught on the 31st March 2021.
I caught this Early Grey Moth (Xylocampa areola) in my moth trap on the 31st March 2021. This moth flies from March to May, in the UK.
These moths’ wings help them to blend in with my log pile and hide in plain sight. Pictured are the Early Grey Moth (Xylocampa areola) and the Brindled Beauty Moth (Lycia hirtaria).
The Chestnut Moth (Conistra vaccinii) was caught on the 31st March 2021.
These Brindled Beauty Moths (Lycia hirtaria) are so well camouflaged!

Searching for branches to add to my wildlife pond

I enjoy creating wildlife habitats and I’ve set up log piles in every garden I’ve created.  I’d like to add some new logs to my log pile; I try to add new wood to our stash of logs every year, as doing this allows me to supply a wide range of ages of wood for all the different insects that live in dead and decaying logs.  I am currently on the lookout for branches or logs to become this year’s additions to the log stack around our wildlife pond.

In years gone by, when I had a much larger garden, it was easy to source any materials I needed – as with more space I was able to grow trees and a much wider range of plants and I could find or grow almost anything I needed for my own garden.  However, these days I have a much smaller garden and I have to find alternative methods to source materials.  This year, I am looking out on social media for any neighbours who might have branches they’d like to get rid of.   I’d also like to source a branch to place directly in the water, as some species of dragonflies lay their eggs in wood that’s decomposing in the water.

It’s always exciting to see new flower buds! These small lime-green coloured flower balls become large every day. Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ pictured in bud on the 31st March 2021.
A closer look at some lovely Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flower buds developing. Pictured on the 31st March 2021.
I spotted this Pond Skater (Gerris lacustris) on the 31st March 2021.
My waterfall is in a sunny area and enjoys bright sunshine, which encourages algae growth. My Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ is still flowering; as pictured on the 2nd April 2021.
All my aquatic plants are springing into life! A view of my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 3rd April 2021.

Hard frosts and another spring drought

Frosts can make aquatic plants appear as if they’ve given up or have been melted! Thankfully, everything is fine. Here’s my wildlife pond, as pictured after a frost on the 7th April 2021.

This has been such a cold and dry spring!  We experienced just a few hours of light rain in the entire month of April 2021 – the only rainfall we’ve enjoyed this month fell in last few days.

The marsh marigolds in my wildlife pond have all flopped, as we had a frost last night. Pictured on the 7th April 2021.

As well as experiencing a drought, we’ve also endured later and harder frosts than we’re used to.  Daytime temperatures have also been incredibly chilly.  The Met Office’s official records confirm April 2021 as having the lowest average minimum temperatures for April, since April 1922.

The Marsh Marigolds in my wildlife pond has crashed out, as we had a frost the previous night. These plants will regain their composure when the frost has melted and the temperatures warm up. Pictured on the 7th April 2021.
Here’s my wildlife pond, as pictured after a frost on the 7th April 2021. These plants will be fine, they’re perfectly reliable and hardy aquatic plants. I am so excited to see these Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowers!

The colder weather and frosts haven’t harmed my aquatic plants in the slightest – these are all hardy and resilient plants.  However, the low temperatures have held back my plants a little.  Last year, my Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ plants began flowering in early February, whereas their first flowers to open in 2021 were unveiled at the beginning of March.  This doesn’t matter, as the low temperatures would have meant that it was too cold for almost all insects to be flying, so by flowering later, these Marsh Marigolds have ensured their flowers were available for the insects that pollinate them.  A smart move!

Another view of my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 9th April 2021. Here again you can see the layout, with my stone stack, log piles, narrow border and ivy hedge behind.

Early flowering bees and insects that fly during January, March, and April, search for flowering plants with accessible flowers, which aren’t always easy to find.  Gardeners can help bees by including single-flowered forms of Galanthus (snowdrops), Mahonia, Crocus, Primula vulgaris (primroses), willow (Salix), Sarcococca confusa, dandelions, celandines, and other early flowering plants in their gardens.

Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowering in my wildlife pond, on the 9th April 2021. This Marsh Marigold is much larger than the other two Marsh Marigolds’ I’m growing in my pond.
A view of my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 9th April 2021. In my pond, Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ is flowering, and so is Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’.
A view of my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 9th April 2021, showing Caltha palustris alba and Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ in flower.
The first flush of Caltha palustris alba flowers are just starting to fade now. Pictured on the 11th April 2021.

We’ve endured some crazy weather this spring; I’d never thought that I would see snow in April, in Surrey!  I took this picture late in the day, but in the early morning the whole of my garden, including my pond, was dusted with snow.

Here’s my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 12th April 2021. The white in this picture is the remnants of a light dusting of snow!
Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ is the second of my Marsh Marigolds to come into flower. Pictured on the 13th April 2021.
Here’s my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 13th April 2021. Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ and Caltha palustris alba are in flower today.

Blanket weed algae update

A closer look at the waterfall in my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 13th April 2021.

We couldn’t resist the temptation to remove a gentle scoop of algae on the 13th April 2021.  We discovered a dragonfly nymph in our net and so promptly put the dragonfly larvae (and the algae) back in the water!

I’m still battling algae in my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 13th April 2021.
We dipped our pond net into the water to remove a small area of algae that was floating on the surface of the pond (on the 13th April 2021) and accidentally caught this dragonfly larvae.

Celebrating Marsh Marigolds!

A closer look at a Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowers glow in the sunshine! Pictured on the 13th April 2021.

This update from my wildlife pond celebrates Marsh Marigolds!  By the middle of April 2021, my Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flower buds had started to open.  This is a variety that forms a much more substantial and more sprawling specimen than Caltha palustris ‘Alba’.

A closer look at a Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flower bud. Pictured on the 13th April 2021.

Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ has much larger flowers than most Marsh Marigolds; the blooms are a gorgeous sunshine-lemon yellow colour – they’re very glamorous!

Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowers. Pictured on the 13th April 2021.
A closer look at a Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flower as it opens. Pictured on the 13th April 2021.
Here’s my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 13th April 2021. Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ and Caltha palustris alba are in flower today.

Adding more barley straw

We added another pack of organic barley straw to our wildlife pond on the 15th April 2021.

Another pack of barley straw was released into the pond on the 15th April 2021.  I don’t like the fact that barley straw comes in what looks to be a plastic pouch – I’d rather have a plastic free alternative.  I planned to cut open the netting and just add the barley straw to my pond but I was advised that this wouldn’t be as effective as adding the barley in its netting.

Observing hoverflies

The weather was rather chilly on the 15th April 2021, so it was a lovely surprise to find this hoverfly on this Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flower.

Spotting hoverflies is always fun!  Hoverflies often have a similar appearance to bees and so it’s easy to muddle them up.

The weather was rather chilly on the 15th April 2021, so it was a lovely surprise to find this hoverfly on this Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flower.
Here’s a look into my pond, as pictured on the 16th April 2021. As you can see, there’s a lot of green algae in my pond and around my aquatic plants. The beige sausage you can see is another pack of barley straw that we’ve recently added. I have continued with the natural algae treatments each week but sadly I’ve not noticed any improvement.
I always admire the sunny reflective glow these Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowers display. Here’s a hoverfly I spotted on the 16th April 2021.

I spotted a number of these hoverflies around the middle of April; these are Eristalis pertinax – also known as tapered drone flies.

This hoverfly was spotted on a Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flower, on the 16th April 2021.
I spotted this hoverfly enjoying a Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flower on the 16th April 2021.
In this picture you can see all three of my types of Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris). My Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ plant is flowering and is such a source of joy at the moment! Pictured on the 16th April 2021.
Here’s another hoverfly! The Caltha palustris plants in my pond are the last of my Marsh Marigold plants to come into bloom. These plants’ flower buds are still developing. Pictured on the 16th April 2021.
Although this plant has lots of open flowers, there are still some Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flower buds developing. Pictured on the 16th April 2021.

Watching crane flies

I observed this crane fly ovipositing her eggs into the algae in my wildlife pond, on the 17th April 2021.

I’ve not seen a dragonfly yet, but I’ve spent a few days watching crane flies laying their eggs in the algae.

I observed crane flies ovipositing eggs into the algae in my wildlife pond, on the 15th, 16th, and 17th April 2021.

I hope that the developing crane fly larvae will consume algae.  Any algae eating creatures can benefit from a twenty-four hour banquet available seven days a week, in my wildlife pond!

This is one of many crane flies I observed ovipositing eggs into the algae in my wildlife pond.
My Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ plant is flowering and is such a source of joy at the moment! Pictured on the 17th April 2021.

Bees,hoverflies, and other insects I’ve spotted around my pond

It was wonderful to see this Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) on the fence at the side of my pond, on the 17th April 2021.

I adore bees, hoverflies, butterflies, and moths.  Observing butterflies and moths, bees and hoverflies is my favourite pastime; it’s so relaxing!  I do all I can to encourage insects into my garden.  I grow as many plants as I can with accessible pollen and nectar – I am always looking out for the most popular plants for insects.

I spotted this Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) on the fence at the side of my pond on the 17th April 2021.
I spotted this lovely mason bee resting on Marsh Marigold leaves, on the 17th April 2021.

When I moved here, I set up Red Mason bee nest boxes, these have been very successful.  I love watching the bees collecting pollen and making nests.  These bees don’t sting so they’re safe for children and pets.  Unlike honey bees, solitary bees don’t make honey; however they are incredibly valuable pollinators.

I spotted this hoverfly feeding from a Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flower, on the 17th April 2021.
I observed this crane fly ovipositing her eggs into the algae in my wildlife pond, on the 17th April 2021.
I spotted this slender hoverfly on a Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flower, on the 17th April 2021.
I spotted this hoverfly on a Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flower, on the 17th April 2021.
I spotted this lovely bee and hoverfly on my Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowers, on the 17th April 2021.
On the 17th April 2021, there were just a few flowers left on each of the Caltha palustris alba plants.
I observed this Pond Skater (Gerris lacustris) in the pond, on the 18th April 2021.

Observing a Peacock butterfly

I was so excited to spot this Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io) at the edge of our pond, on the 20th April 2021!

I adore butterflies and so I was thrilled to spot this Peacock butterfly on the 20th April 2021!

I was so excited to spot this Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io) at the edge of our pond, on the 20th April 2021!

Due to our cold, dry spring, insects are searching for alternative sources of moisture and food.  This Peacock butterfly spent time among the old portions of algae deposited around the edge of the pond, probing with his proboscis looking for moisture and nutrients.

We’ve experienced a very dry and cold April 2021; insects like this Peacock butterfly are having to work harder to look for moisture and natural minerals.
Butterflies usually feed on nectar from flowers, but they can also feed on rotting fruit, salts and minerals in mud, animal droppings, and aphid’s honeydew.
This Peacock butterfly was searching for moisture and minerals, as it busily probed these remnants of left over algae and plant detritus, which was cleared and left at the side of the pond, earlier in the season.
I was thrilled to see this Peacock butterfly enjoying the edges around my pond. A pond supports a vast range of wildlife.
This Peacock butterfly also spent some time probing a number of the stones around my pond, as the butterfly searched for moisture and minerals.
The Peacock butterfly is a large butterfly that’s often seen in the UK, especially during the summer months. Adult Peacock butterflies are present all through the year – they hibernate during the winter months.
The Peacock butterfly’s wings feature these eye-like markings. When this butterfly opens its wings, it ‘flashes’ ‘four eyes’, which startles any predators and acts as a warning.
This Peacock butterfly, was using its proboscis to probe this small collection of scooped out algae and detritus that was left at the side of the pond a few months ago.
The Peacock is a medium to large sized butterfly.
I was thrilled to see this Peacock butterfly enjoying the edges around my pond. A pond supports a vast range of wildlife.
Peacock butterflies have magnificent wings. The undersides of their wings provide perfect camouflage, their dark colourings allow these butterflies to blend into the corners of sheds or remain hidden in amongst soil or leaves.
On the 20th April 2021, I enjoyed watching this Peacock butterfly using its proboscis to drink in moisture and minerals from the detritus found in and around the edges of my wildlife pond.

Algae

Here’s a view of my pond, as pictured on the 24th April 2021. All three Marsh Marigolds: Caltha palustris, Caltha palustris alba, and Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ are pictured in flower.

There’s still plenty of algae in my wildlife pond.  Algae often reaches its peak in spring or early summer with a large and very noticeable algal bloom.  Many strains of algae change tact and decrease over the summer months when they’re much less visible, but blanket weed can be a problem throughout the spring and summer months.

Here’s a look into my pond, as pictured on the 24th April 2021. As you can see, there’s a lot of green algae in my pond and around my aquatic plants, but this hasn’t affected my Marsh Marigolds – this picture shows all three varieties in flower.

Wasps

We’ve experienced a cold, dry spring, so many insects have been drawn to the pond. This wasp is using the algae as a landing pad to allow him to stop for a drink.

Marsh Marigold blooms

Here’s a look at all three Marsh Marigolds: Caltha palustris, which has just come into bloom, Caltha palustris alba, which has been flowering since the beginning of March, and Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’, which came into bloom at the start of April.

My wildlife pond is enlivened by Marsh Marigold flowers in springtime.  These vivacious flowers have such a cheerful and upbeat vibe; I love Marsh Marigolds!

These Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowers were paling in colour when I took this picture of my wildlife pond, on the 24th April 2021.
This lovely bee was busy tending to one of the Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowers. Pictured on the 24th April 2021.
I spotted this Red Mason Bee on one of the Marsh Marigold leaves. Pictured on the 24th April 2021.
I have a great love of Marsh Marigolds, they are one of my favourite plants. Two of my best friends gave me some of these plants, so they hold a very special place in my heart.
I adore Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowers! I think the blooms look so sunshiny and attractive at every age.
I look down onto my wildlife pond on the 25th April 2021.
Here’s a closer look at the three types of Marsh Marigold I grow: Caltha palustris, Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’, and Caltha palustris alba. Pictured on the 25th April 2021.

Watching shield bugs, bees, butterflies, and hoverflies around my pond

I moment later, I spotted this shield bug exploring the stones around my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 25th April 2021.
I was excited to spot this Red Mason Bee on the stone cairn at the side of our wildlife pond.
I spent a few relaxing and uplifting minutes watching this Peacock butterfly taking up moisture and nutrients from the algae left around the outside of my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 25th April 2021.
It was a windy, and at times, bracing day when I took these pictures of this Peacock butterfly, on the 25th April 2021.
On the 25th April 2021, I spotted another Peacock butterfly (Aglais io) probing for moisture and nutrients among the algae. We’ve not removed any algae over the past few weeks – this algae was scooped out of my wildlife pond and left at the side, on the pebbles, a few weeks ago.
The Marsh Marigolds are now out in force in my wildlife pond! Pictured on the 25th April 2021.
Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ has open centred, accessible flowers for butterflies, bees, hoverflies, and other insects.
Here’s a closer look at a hoverfly tending to a Marsh Marigold flower. Pictured on the 25th April 2021.
A view of my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 25th April 2021.

Short-lived and long-lived aquatic plants

The Marsh Marigolds have been a great success in my wildlife pond!  I’ve been growing these aquatic plants for many years – they are totally reliable and form long-lived plants that flower reliably, every year.

Ranunculus aquatilis, pictured in full bloom in my wildlife pond, on the 23rd April 2020.

Not all of my aquatic plants have been so successful though, my Aponogeton distachyos plant has died – it didn’t appear this winter and there’s no sign of this plant in the pond.  I’ve also lost my Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus aquatilis), which is a great shame, as I’ve been looking forward to seeing Ranunculus aquatilis all year.  Ranunculus aquatilis is a short-lived perennial, which explains its absence – these plants don’t go on for ever .  As gardeners, we continue to add new plants to our gardens each year; so, when spaces open up, we should also continue adding new plants to our ponds.  I’ve been itching to buy a replacement Ranunculus plant, but I’m on a tight budget at the moment so haven’t purchased another plant yet.

I love the naturally sunny and cheerful flower of Marsh Marigolds! Pictured on the 25th April 2021.
This hoverfly was visiting my Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowers. Pictured on the 25th April 2021.
Marsh marigolds are such sunny yellow flowers! Pictured on the 25th April 2021.
One or two Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowers are now beginning to shed their petals as the flowers age. Pictured on the 25th April 2021.
The oldest Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowers are now become ever lighter in colour, as the flowers age. Pictured on the 25th April 2021.
Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowers soften in colour as they age. Pictured on the 26th April 2021.
Here’s a view of my pond on the 26th April 2021. The floral display is produced by my Marsh Marigolds.
Most of my Caltha palustris alba plants have produced seed pods; pictured on the 26th April 2021.
It always surprises me how long Marsh Marigold flowers last. These Caltha palustris alba flowers are pictured on the 26th April 2021.

More butterflies!

You might not be able to spot it – but there’s a Holly Blue Butterfly feeding on these Caltha palustris flowers in my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 27th April 2021.

I grow both holly (Ilex aquifolium) and ivy (Hedera helix) in my garden, these are the food plants for the Holly Blue Butterfly, so I see lots of these butterflies in my garden.  Can you spot the Holly Blue Butterfly in my photograph above?

This Holly Blue Butterfly spent around five minutes feeding on the Caltha palustris flowers in my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 27th April 2021.
I adore butterflies, so it was wonderful to see this Holly Blue Butterfly feeding on the Caltha palustris flowers in my wildlife pond! Pictured on the 27th April 2021.
I was so excited to spot this Holly Blue Butterfly feeding on the Caltha palustris flowers in my wildlife pond! Pictured on the 27th April 2021.
This Holly Blue Butterfly flew over to the rose that’s growing just in front of my pond and rested on the leaves before visiting my apple trees.
This is a female Holly Blue Butterfly, also known by its scientific name, Celastrina argiolus.

New growth

It’s exciting to see new fronds emerging on the fern that I’m growing alongside my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 30th April 2021.

There’s something inspiring about watching fern fronds unfurling and new leaves developing that fills me with excitement!  It’s lovely to be able to share this joy with you in my pond updates.

This lovely new Rhubarb ‘Livingstone’ leaf has attracted a lot of cat hair! Pictured on the 30th April 2021.

I’m hoping that the birds will gather up these strands of cat hair from my rhubarb leaves, to use in their nests.

Comparing Marsh Marigolds

In this image, you can see a couple of Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowers at the front of the picture. Caltha palustris is the plant with more intense yellow flowers, they are smaller in size, too.

I adore growing Marsh Marigolds!  If you’re looking for plants to include in your pond, I’d recommend these easy to grow marginal plants.  I find that Marsh Marigolds can cope with almost anything.  These hardy and resilient plants’ main flowering period is in springtime; they’ll then go on to produce a number of flowers during the summer months.  Marsh Marigolds really make an impact – making these aquatic plants good value for small ponds.

My Marsh marigolds are planted in plastic aquatic planters, which I’ve lined with hessian and filled with peat-free, aquatic compost.  Since I planted up this pond in the spring of 2019, I’ve not re-potted any of these plants.  All of my three varieties of Marsh Marigolds are positioned on a ledge at the edge of my pond.  Here the water level just covers the top of the plants’ pots.  Caltha palustris are quite easy going plants when it comes to water levels, they’ll grow happily in water a little deeper than this and will also thrive in wet and boggy soils – so you don’t need a pond to grow Caltha palustris – but you do need plenty of moisture.

Last year I didn’t manage to administer any fertiliser to my aquatic plants, as my pond is challenging to access and I was anxious about harming or disturbing the newts.  Thankfully, most of my plants had a fertiliser tablet popped into their compost earlier this year.  My Marsh Marigolds flowered their socks off last year, whereas my waterlilies were not as floriferous as they could have been, had they received fertiliser in springtime.

Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ produces these large sized, beautiful yellow flowers. Pictured in my wildlife pond, on the 30th April 2021.

I try to show pictures that allow you to differentiate between the different plants I grow, as you may not want to or might not have room to grow all three.  Here’s another photograph I’ve taken for you of my three Marsh Marigolds – Caltha palustris, Caltha palustris ‘Alba’, and Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’.

This picture shows (from left to right) Caltha palustris, Caltha palustris alba, Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ growing in my pond. Pictured on the 30th April 2021.

Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ is the first of my Marsh Marigolds to flower.  This is a naturally small and compact, demure, white-flowered Marsh Marigold.

Next to bloom is Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ – a much larger, spreading plant with larger, slightly more olive green coloured leaves and significantly larger, soft yellow blooms that glow and sparkle in the sunshine!

Last to flower is the wild species, Caltha palustris.  This plant is noticeably larger than Caltha palustris ‘Alba’, but a bit more compact and contained than Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’.  The loudest and brightest of the bunch, Caltha palustris produces large, intense yellow flowers.  Caltha palustris blooms are smaller than Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ flowers, but they’re larger than Caltha palustris ‘Alba’ blooms.

These Caltha palustris alba flowers have been going on for ages! Pictured on the 30th April 2021.
A closer look at a Caltha palustris flower growing in my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 30th April 2021.
Marsh marigolds are such a joy in springtime! Pictured on the 30th April 2021.
A look into my pond on the 2nd May 2021, Caltha palustris ‘Alba’, Caltha palustris, and Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ are all in flower.
I adore primroses! This is the wild primrose – Primula vulgaris. I grow a lot of these plants in my garden – I adore their delightful flowers and scent. Pictured on the 2nd May 2021.
Here’s a closer look at my wildlife pond on the 2nd May 2021. Marsh Marigolds are tough and resilient aquatic plants.
Here’s another view of my wildlife pond on the 2nd May 2021, Caltha palustris ‘Alba’, Caltha palustris, and Caltha palustris ‘Honeydew’ are all flowering in my pond at the moment.

To see the birds that are nesting opposite my wildlife pond, please click here.

To see the next update from my wildlife pond and view my pond in early summertime, please click here.

Other articles that may interest you…….

For gardening advice for May, please click here.

For ideas of gorgeous scented plants to grow to help butterflies, bees, and other pollinating insects, please click here.

To see every article I’ve written about my pond, please click here.

For more articles about wildlife and wildlife gardening, please click here.

Other articles you might like:

One thought on “An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Springtime

  1. Barb Perks

    May 2, 2021 at 2:20pm

    Thank you for the post about your wildlife pond. I dug a new pond in our garden a few weeks ago, and have never hardened in water before, so it is very interesting to read about your experiences and experiments.
    I too love the marsh marigolds. Mine are so new (from Grow Wilder, a Wildlife Trust online shop) they won’t flower this year I don’t suppose, but your pictures are encouraging.
    Best wishes
    Barb

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      May 2, 2021 at 2:29pm

      Hello Barb,
      It’s lovely to hear that you’ve created a new pond – how exciting! I wouldn’t be surprised if your marsh marigolds flowered this year – their main blooming period is happening now, but marsh marigolds also produce smaller flushes of flowers in the summertime – so you might be lucky. Either way, they’ll definitely flower next year. It’s lovely to hear that you bought your plants from a Wildlife Trust online shop – they are a great charity to support.
      Wishing you every happiness by your pond.
      Best wishes
      Beth

      • Barb Perks

        May 2, 2021 at 4:05pm

        Thank you for the encouragement Beth! Also I just noted a typo in my comment (gardening not hardening!) which is embarrassing. I look forward to learning more as I go, and to reading future posts,
        Best wishes
        Barb

        • Author

          Pumpkin Beth

          May 2, 2021 at 4:40pm

          No need to be embarrassed, Barb. We all make mistakes – me included. I am excited for you – having a pond is so much fun!
          Warmest wishes
          Beth

  2. Emma

    May 2, 2021 at 4:37pm

    Dear Beth,
    Thank you for this lovely post, each one of your pond updates is a highlight ! I so enjoy your pictures and your writing !
    I am very interested in your take and experimentation in creating a wildlife pond because it’s exactly what I’m aiming for for my own pond, and your detailed descriptions and honest feedback are very useful. I am also trying to achieve a “naturalistic planting style” and create a garden welcoming to wildlife, and I will read voraciously anything you’re willing to share on this topic 🙂
    I particularly appreciate how you “keep it real” for us readers : creating a garden requires time patience cleverness and resourcefulness, and trial and error are part of the process. I chuckled at the “gardening budget” anecdote because – let’s be frank – that’s another important aspect of it !
    Thank you for your wonderful blog, I’m always happy when I receive the email update !
    Cheers, Emma from Germany

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      May 2, 2021 at 4:59pm

      Thank you for your lovely message, Emma. It’s so lovely to hear from you! I am so glad that you like my writing and I’m so happy that you’re also making a wildlife pond. I wonder how many of the same insects we both can see? I am also excited at the thought of what other fascinating insects and wildlife you can see around your pond that I would never see in the UK!

      I’d definitely say to steer clear of the curved planters I’ve used – they are terrible! I think a mixture of larger and smaller sized individual planters look good. If you use square or rectangular shaped pots you can cram a few more plants into the pond!

      Avoid top dressing your aquatic planters with light coloured stones or gravel as this stands out and can look messy. Although I must say that I personally absolutely cannot stand the terrible black dye that’s used so often in the water of ponds and show gardens.

      The key thing that most people miss is that the planting around the pond is just as important as the pond. Newts, frogs and toads all need cover as they approach and exit the water and insects need nectar and pollen. I regret that my pond is crammed into such a small space, which has meant that there is very little room for planting, but with a small garden and a husband that desperately wanted a larger pond I was limited in what I could do.

      I’ll always be totally honest about things – I think it’s the best way to be. I want to be as helpful as possible; if I can help anyone avoid a mistake that I’ve made myself or I’ve seen during any aspect of my work, then I will always share the info. If there’s anything in particular that you’d like to know – please do ask me.

      Sending you my warmest wishes and thanks for your kindness,
      Beth

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