An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Midsummer
Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond in midsummer. I’ve got so much to show you, as this area of my garden is currently full of plants at all stages of growth. I can’t wait for you to see the flowers, but what you can’t see is the scent. I’ve only grown a few plants with perfumed flowers in this area, but they produce strongly scented flowers that fill this part of my garden with fragrance. I simply adore fragrant flowers. My garden is enhanced by the delicious scent of roses, whose sumptuous warm floral perfume pervades the morning air, intensifying in the heat of the day. Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) flowers scent our days too, but these blooms dominate balmy summer nights with their intoxicating fragrance.
In the daytime, my heart is warmed by the soothing sound of bees humming and birds singing; by the middle of the day, I sometimes hear crickets and grasshoppers chirping. The sound of nature is so calming and restorative. I relish every moment that I spend by my pond. I hope I can help and encourage you to create an equally joyful area in your garden, or at least provide you with a moment to relax as you take a tour of my wildlife pond…..
Why am I removing my Oase AquaSkim 20?
I want to start by telling you some sad news about my Oase AquaSkim 20. A couple of weeks ago, my husband emptied the basket of our Oase AquaSkim 20, when he had a nasty shock and discovered a dead newt. It looked as if the newt had died after becoming trapped inside my Oase AquaSkim 20’s collection basket. We both feel terrible for the poor newt and are deeply saddened by this distressing incident. I’ve written quite a bit about the Oase AquaSkim 20; I’ve recommended this product many times as an effective skimmer for clearing leaves and detritus from ponds and to prevent ponds freezing over in wintertime. Please note that I no longer recommend the Oase AquaSkim 20 – we stopped using the Oase AquaSkim 20 immediately after discovering this dead newt. The Oase AquaSkim 20 has now been removed from my pond.
How effective are the natural methods I’m using to control blanket weed algae in my wildlife pond?
How much algae is in my pond? There’s certainly algae in my pond, but with all the leaf cover that’s shielding the water and the bushy growth from all the plants that are growing around the outside of my wildlife pond, it’s currently impossible to say precisely how well I am doing at controlling the algae in this pond!
I’ve not dipped my net in the pond or twirled a stick to remove any of the algae since my last update, as I’ve not wanted to risk harming any of the baby newts that are currently developing in our wildlife pond.
On the 1st July 2021, I added two more packs of barley straw to the pond. This is easy to do, the packs are simply dropped into the water; they’ll float around for a few weeks, before eventually submerging and disappearing under the water and out of sight.
I’ve continued adding weekly treatments of Ecopond Eco-friendly Barley-Bio Algae Control, as this product is reputed to control algae. I’m not aware of any improvements in the concentration of algae in my wildlife pond, but as I have already purchased this product and it’s safe for wildlife, I’ve continued using it.
Dastardly duckweed arrives at my pond!
The lush leafy growth produced by the plants growing in and around my wildlife pond makes it almost impossible to see the pond water. Some of the pictures that I’ve taken for you in this update are taken from 5ft above my pond – this is not a view that I see myself from day to day. It’s difficult for me to get a clear view of the water in my wildlife pond, so it was only whilst I was taking the photographs for this update that I realised that we now have duckweed in our wildlife pond!
This is the first time that I’ve seen duckweed in this particular wildlife pond. I expect that my Oase AquaSkim 20 was keeping my pond clear of duckweed and now I’ve stopped using this product the duckweed has been allowed to prosper and is capitalising on this opportunity! I can’t be certain of precisely how this duckweed arrived at my wildlife pond, but I suspect that it was delivered by a bird who had enjoyed a visit to another pond that was populated with duckweed, prior to visiting our garden.
Duckweed is a fast growing, self-propagating, aquatic plant, that spreads rapidly, forming new plants every few days. The way to get rid of duckweed is by physically removing it from your pond. Use a net to lift the duckweed out of the water, but check the contents of your net over thoroughly, to ensure that you’ve not accidentally lifted any pond life out of the water along with your plants. As I write to you today, I’ve not had a spare moment to even think about attempting to remove any of the duckweed. I let you know what happens in my next update!
Growing aquatic plants for wildlife
My aquatic plants are thriving! It’s quite a challenge to see my pond, as it is obscured by my aquatic plants’ lush green leaves.
Currently the stand-out star of my aquatic plants is Ranunculus flammula. This gorgeous plant produces an abundance of zingy lemon-yellow coloured flowers that shine out of our pond; Ranunculus flammula flowers gleam and glisten in the sunshine like stars crafted from the brightest sunbeam.
This year, Ranunculus flammula began flowering at the end of May, delivering a sprinkling of new tiny flowers every day until the pond was brightened by this vast mass of gorgeous buttercup flowers. My wildlife pond is peppered with Ranunculus flammula flowers; I love them!
Ranunculus flammula is holding centre stage in my pond at the moment, but I’m growing many other aquatic plants in my wildlife pond. Here are some of the aquatic plants that have been in bloom since my last update……
Finding fewer damselflies
This has been a crazy year in many ways. Since my last update, we’ve endured many rainy days (difficult conditions for dragonflies or damselflies), these were since followed by a heatwave. I am useless in the heat and so I’ve avoided the garden until the evening and accordingly I have missed seeing as many dragonflies or damselflies, as they’re active in the daytime. The only damselflies I’ve managed to take a picture of are these two Large Red Damselflies.
Excited by magnificent European Rose Chafers!
My heart is full of love for European Rose Chafers. These magnificent little beings propel themselves forward, buzzing noisily as they move rather clumsily from flower to flower. Rose Chafers are entertainers, I enjoy watching these insects as they pull up to stop off at their chosen bloom, ready to happily feast upon the next course in the banquet of flowers that I’ve laid on for them in my garden.
Naturally I’ve seen Rose Chafers contentedly dining out on every single one my roses, but these charming insects also take great delight in feasting on Ox-eye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare), Alliums, and Valeriana officinalis flowers. I’m so happy to share my blooms with these wonderful flying beetles; I simply adore these little fellows!
Helping Stag Beetles
I haven’t seen a male Stag Beetle yet this year, but I found this female Stag Beetle crawling out from the log pile that surrounds two sides of my pond. Log piles are such important habitats for beetles, but they benefit a vast array of wildlife, from insects and invertebrates to reptiles and amphibians, and mammals, like hedgehogs.
I am desperately keen to collect more new wood to add to my log pile, but this isn’t as easy, as I have a small garden and I don’t have a ready supply of fallen branches.
Uplifted by the majesty of Thick-Legged Flower Beetles!
I love this time of year, as the garden is full of life! There are so many fascinating insects we can observe in the garden; one of my favourite insects is the Thick-Legged Flower Beetle. Aren’t they glorious?
It’s the male Thick-Legged Flower Beetle that has the thick legs – female beetles have slender legs. In my photographs, you can see that female Thick-Legged Flower Beetles are dressed in the same exquisite shade of metallic green as the males. Like her partner, I find that female Thick-Legged Flower Beetles are often highlighted with golden pollen from the flower they’ve recently feasted at.
Thick-Legged Flower Beetles fly from flower to flower, pollinating the blooms as they feast.
Being charmed by Woundwort Shield Bugs!
I’ve grown Stachys sylvatica in the narrow border around my wildlife pond. This is a superb plant for bees but it also comes complete with its own shield bugs – the Woundwort Shield Bugs. Quite cute little things, their nymphs feed on Stachys sylvatica plants. This isn’t something to worry about – it’s nice to see these insects and the Stachys sylvatica plants themselves are robust and self-seed freely.
Growing climbing plants to enclose my pond & provide a habitat for wildlife
I’m growing quite a few climbing plants around my wildlife pond. Directly behind my pond I have a boundary full of ivy (Hedera helix) and honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum). I adore these plants and am so happy to have them growing in this area of my garden.
I have a fairly new fence at the side of the pond, which I’ve enhanced this year with a summer cloak made of a network of Clematis integrifolia alba and Clematis ‘Kaiu’ stems, decorated with these clematis’ leafy–green leaves, and their charming white bell-shaped flowers. Clematis integrifolia alba is a naturally scrambling, low-growing clematis that’s usually grown at the front of a herbaceous border. I grow quite a number of clematis in my garden, but so far all of the clematis that have been planted and asked to climb up and cover this fence have amounted to nothing; so, I decided to invite this clematis to climb this 6ft (1.8m) fence and Clematis integrifolia alba has been happy to oblige.
Growing delightful border plants for bees, butterflies, moths, & hoverflies!
Apart from one of my climbing roses, all of the plants I’m growing in the narrow border around my pond benefit bees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, beetles, and other pollinating insects.
I have been in love with ox-eye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) since I was a young child. These gorgeous plants suit any style of garden; they’re so easy going and accommodating. My plants have just had a serious hair cut last weekend, but they’ll be back to flower again, later in the summer.
My Stachys sylvatica plants are next in line for a hair cut. Their flowering stems have been flowering for an absolute age; they’ve done their thing and now look like they’re desperate for a lie down. Instead, I’ll cut my Stachys sylvatica plants right back, which will allow other plants in this area to find their way to the sunlight.
Stachys sylvatica self-seeds freely, so if you’re growing this plant in your garden and you want to avoid gaining any new-comers, simply remove the flowering stems as soon as they go past their best.
All of the plants that are growing in the narrow border around my pond are growing in very sandy, free draining soil. I am not one for watering, so these plants are usually only watered by the rain. None of these plants are growing in wet or boggy conditions – they’re regular garden plants – ideal for sunny or partially shaded areas.
Here are some of the other plants I’m growing in the narrow border that surrounds my wildlife pond…..
Bob the blackbird & other birds visit my pond
We have a male a female Blackbird that we often see bobbing about in our garden. We’ve named the male ‘Bob’ Blackbird and the female Blackbird ‘Kate’ (Blackadder fans may understand this choice). My heart fills with such joy seeing these birds in the garden. I love to hear the Blackbird’s song and smile to myself as I watch these endearing birds demolishing my blueberries, blackcurrants, and holly berries.
I don’t know what happened to ‘our’ Blue tits. I haven’t seen any baby Blue Tits in our garden and didn’t see the birds fledge. I hope the baby Blue Tits made it and have lived happily ever after. We’ve seen Blue Tits in the garden, but haven’t been sure if they were ‘Ken’ or ‘Brenda’.
Solitary bees, bumble bees, & more bees!
I adore bees! I regularly see bumble bees and solitary bees in my garden. Here are some of the bees I’ve spotted around my wildlife pond…..
Looking out for hoverflies around my pond
I’m not always fast enough to take a picture of the hoverflies, bees, butterflies, and moths I see in my garden. Here are the pictures I’ve managed to take of hoverflies since my last update.
Hoping to see more butterflies this summer!
I’ve been incredibly concerned about butterflies over the past couple of years especially, as I’ve noticed a severe and dramatic decline in the number of butterflies I spot in my own garden. This year I’ve spotted so few butterflies in my garden, which feels desperately sad and very alarming.
Butterfly numbers have increased in my garden over the past couple of weeks. I actually spotted several small dance troupes of Cabbage White Butterflies twirling and displaying their best twirling moves in my garden this morning, but I’ve only seen Cabbage White Butterflies and not the usual variety of butterfly species that I’d expect to see in summertime.
I’ve yet to take a Butterfly Count in my garden, but I’ve recently taken a Butterfly Count at Ranmore Common, in Surrey. If you’re interested in my Butterfly Counts, you can find them all, by clicking here.
To head straight to the next update and see my wildlife pond in late summer, please click here.
For gardening advice for July, please click here.
For gardening advice for August, please click here.
To see every update I’ve written about my wildlife pond, please click here.
For more articles about gardening for wildlife, please click here.