An Update From My Wildlife Pond in Early Autumn – Full of Water & Wildlife!

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Early Autumn

Here’s a view of the back of my wildlife pond, as seen in the heatwave and drought on 15th August 2022.

Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond in September!  Since my last update, we’ve gone from one extreme to the other – from drought – to a stormy week of thunder, lightening, and heavy rain; followed by more rain over the last two weeks.  My pond (and water butts and water tanks) are all full to the brim!  It is such a relief to no longer have to worry about the water levels in my pond; life is certainly far more relaxing when my pond is full of rainwater.

It was such a relief to fill up my wildlife pond with rainwater collected in my water tank and water butts. Pictured on the 18th August 2022.

Some of my aquatic plants’ foliage is decaying now.  This early wave of dying leaves is not triggered by the start of autumn but by the end of a long and pro-longed drought this summer.  My poor aquatic plants have been frazzled by extreme temperatures and low water levels, but they have bounced back remarkably well.  Plants are amazing!

I don’t cut back or remove any of my aquatic plants’ foliage until springtime.  I’ve watched dragonflies laying eggs on dead and decaying leaves, and amphibians and pond life hibernating and sheltering in faded foliage.  I won’t do any work in or around my wildlife pond until springtime.  In spring, I will remove my aquatic plants’ dead leaves, but only where necessary.  I’m always trying to encourage gardeners to leave their autumn leaves for hedgehogs, wildlife, and plants.  For more information on what to do with your autumn leaves, please click here.

The heatwave was over when I took this picture of my wildlife pond on the 21st August 2022. Although the waterfall was running at this time, the water level in my pond was still much lower than I would like. The plants growing in and around my wildlife pond have been ravaged by the stress of growing through such a hot and dry summer.
A waterlily pictured in the sunshine on the 30th August 2022.

My waterlilies bloomed for the first time this summer at the end of August.  The waterlily flowers were delayed due to the drought and low water levels in my pond this summer.  I only use rainwater to fill up my pond.  It became stressful trying to keep my pond topped up this summer.  To avoid the same stresses next year, I’ve now invested in additional water butts and water tanks.  In fact, I’ve more than doubled the capacity of the amount of rainwater I can collect and store.  I hope that next year, (and in all future years) I will be able to keep my pond topped up with rainwater throughout the spring and summer months.

Here’s a view looking down onto my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 3rd September 2022. Sedums are flowering in the narrow border (the border soil is not boggy – this is regular, sandy garden soil) that surrounds the water.

I can feel the seasons changing and sense autumn’s keen arrival; the air is cooler and fresher.  Temperatures are dropping at night and in the daytime.  If you have any tender plants, don’t forget to bring them indoors or undercover to a frost-free environment now.  If you’ve given your houseplants a holiday outdoors, bring them safely inside.  Before you set your plants down on your window sill or coffee table, clean their pots and check your houseplants over thoroughly for slugs and snails; leave the mollusks safely outdoors in your garden.  Next, spray the houseplants’ foliage indoors with SB Plant Invigorator – an organic spray that controls common houseplant pests.

I picture of my wildlife pond on the 12th September 2022. My ivy is in flower and in bud. The teasels and Veronica hold lots of seed and my aquatic plants have produced new leaves.
Here’s a look at my wildlife pond from the other side. My pond is planted and designed to look at its best from March/April to July/August. However, it is not just about looks – this area of my garden is teaming with life, throughout the year.

Water Levels and Rainfall

I took this photograph of my wildlife pond on the 15th August 2022. I prodded a stick into the deepest part of the pond and measured a water depth of just 25cm! This is frighteningly low. The weather forecasters predicted a 30% chance of light rain for two hours tomorrow and an almost 50% chance of rain the following day.

On the 15th August 2022, we prodded a stick into the pond and measured a water depth of just 25cm (0.8ft) in the deepest part of the pond!  This was so much lower than I expected and very alarming, as the water depth in this area of the pond is usually 80-90cm (2.6-2.9ft) deep, when the pond is full.

We enjoyed about 20 minutes of rain on the 16th August 2022; this was a happy day, but one with only light to medium rainfall – it was not enough to add any water to my water butts; although it was most welcome and the rain will have undoubtedly helped my aquatic plants and garden plants.

Our prayers were answered at around 4.30pm on the 17th August 2022 when the first significant rainfall of the summer finally arrived to refresh us.  Hooray!  We were fully prepared and seized this opportunity to add as much rainwater as possible to our pond.  We dashed outside to grab the hose and connect it up to our main rainwater tank, turning on the tap and using the hose to empty our main rainwater tank out straight into the pond.  At this time, there was only a cup of water left in the tank (at most), but by leaving the rainwater tank’s tap turned on – with the hose running out into the pond, we utilised the rain to rinse this tank through and collect the maximum amount of rainwater and divert this roof’s rainwater straight into the pond.  It rained heavily for three quarters of an hour and in this time I guess we would have been able to completely fill up this water tank at least three times over, as the rain was really powering down.  Anyway, all this rainwater went straight into the pond – we turned the water tank’s tap off about three quarters of an hour after the heavy rain stopped.

We then emptied the rainwater from our shed’s water butt into the pond.  We only have a small shed, so it was amazing to have filled the shed’s water butt up and emptied it into the pond.  Before the rain started, I had set out every container I could find all over the patio, to ensure we also paid back my orchids (my main rainwater tank’s main use is to supply rainwater to water my orchids and houseplants) and had some rainwater to use for my indoor plants.

Here’s a look into my wildlife pond on the 21st August 2022. The water level in my pond is still lower than I would like, but I am able to run the waterfall and I have enough water to keep my aquatic plants happy. Things are infinitely better than they were two weeks ago!

The pond was much fuller by the evening of the 17th August 2022, so much so that we were able to turn our pond’s waterfall back on again!  Hurrah!  What a relief it was to see water in our wildlife pond.  I was so happy to be soaked by the rain.  I felt so relaxed and so fortunate, like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I could truly relax for the first time in ages.  The pond still needed more rainwater though as although fuller, our wildlife pond was not full, yet.

After beautifully soft and steady overnight rain (that continued all morning), we were finally able to fill up the pond on the 25th August 2022.  Our shed water butt had filled up overnight, so early in the morning we were outside using the hose to empty this water butt out into the pond.  I have five water tanks (two huge tanks (650L & 550L), one extra large tank (400L), a large tank (190L), and a standard-sized water butt) which should allow me to collect and store enough water to water and fertilise my orchid collection and houseplants with rainwater, maintain water levels in our wildlife pond, and water my outdoor plants.

Here’s a look into my wildlife pond, which is finally full of rainwater! Pictured on the 25th August 2022.

Algae and Duckweed

Here’s a closer look at my wildlife pond, after I had decanted the rainwater from my water butt into the pond, on the 25th August 2022.

Whenever I notice the duckweed or algae is looking worse in my pond, I grab my camera and take pictures to show you.  To be honest, it is difficult to judge how bad the algae has been this year, as the water levels in the pond have been so low during summertime.  I definitely have noticed that since I no longer add tap water to my wildlife pond, the water looks clearer and I’ve not experienced an algae crisis in my pond this year.

This area of my wildlife pond was liberally sprinkled with duckweed, yet the water was totally clear around the circumference of the pond. I’ve not scooped any duckweed out for the pond this spring or summer, as I didn’t want to risk scooping up any dragonfly or damselfly larvae. Duckweed, a waterlily, and Menyanthes trifoliata are pictured together in my wildlife pond on the 31st August 2022.
Here’s a view looking down into my pond. My husband stood on our garden wall and took this picture for me, on the 16th September 2022.

Aquatic Plants

My aquatic plants look surprisingly leafy and green considering how low the water level in my pond is – just 25cm deep instead of 90cm. It demonstrates how resilient plants are, especially when we remind ourself of just how long this drought has continued. I’ve been anxious about the water levels in my pond since April 2022. Pictured on the 15th August 2022.

My aquatic plants have been frazzled and toasted this summer!  I am amazed at how well they have rebounded from the punishing heat and seemingly never ending drought.  At this time of year, the aquatic plants I’m growing in my pond would naturally have finished flowering.

I got my husband to take this picture to give you a birds eye view looking down from directly above the pond. Pictured on 15th August 2022.

One of the best performing aquatic plants in my wildlife pond this summer has been Myosotis scorpioides alba.  This aquatic plant is found growing in the margins of ponds and around the water’s edge, so it is adept at coping with lower water levels.  My plant has been in bloom all summer and is still in flower and looking good now in mid-September.

An effective way to create a sustainable pond with lasting plants is to plant more resilient plants like Myosotis scorpioides alba, and Marsh Marigolds – Caltha palustris; as these plants can cope with both higher and lower water levels.  These plants are UK plants that benefit insects.  Myosotis scorpioides alba (and the blue flowered form: Myosotis scorpioides) has a long flowering period but it is also a fantastic plants for newts.  Female newts will lay an egg and wrap it in a Myosotis scorpioides alba leaf.  Other popular plants for newts to use to lay their eggs include watercress (Nasturtium officinale), Glyceria fluitans, Potamogeton crispus, Potamogeton perfoliatus, and Potamogeton lucens.

Myosotis scorpioides alba is such a fantastic plant for a wildlife pond. This aquatic plant has a long flowering period. The pretty white flowers attract bees, hoverflies, butterflies, and moths. Myosotis scorpioides alba is also a very resilient aquatic plant – this plant was hit hard by heavy rainfall the day before. Pictured in flower in my wildlife pond on the 18th August 2022.

In the UK, newts tend to lay their eggs from April to June, so you’ve got plenty of time to plant newt-friendly plants in your pond.  Another way to help newts is to avoid using pesticides and don’t use any slug pellets in your garden, as newts feed on slugs and insects.

I can’t always spot Hornwort’s (also known by its botanical name, Ceratophyllum demersum) fluffy stems in my wildlife pond, so here’s a picture I took on the 18th August 2022.
It was a lovely surprise to spot another new waterlily flower bud in my wildlife pond on the 28th August 2022.
Here’s a closer look at a waterlily flower bud, pictured in my wildlife pond, on the 28th August 2022.
Waterlilies are popular aquatic plants. I love to see waterlily flowers, but I also adore their lily pad leaves – I find them so attractive! Pictured on the 29th August 2022.
Here’s a closer look at the beautiful waterlily flower, pictured as it opened on the 28th August 2022.
Myosotis scorpioides alba is a white-flowered Water Forget-Me-Not with a long flowering period. I adore this aquatic plant and would include it in every pond I create.

For more information about Myosotis scorpioides alba, please click here.

Here’s a look at a pretty waterlily, surrounded by duckweed and Menyanthes trifoliata in my wildlife pond, on the 29th August 2022.
A look at my wildlife pond on the 12th September 2022. The water here is clear and free from algae and duckweed.
When I looked at this picture I took of Myosotis scorpioides alba flowers on the 16th September 2022, I spotted what looked like a bee underneath one of the flowers.
To get a closer look, I headed back outside with my camera. Sadly, I think this insect has died, but it will eventually become food for another inhabitant of my wildlife pond.

For more information about Myosotis scorpioides alba, please click here.

Here’s a closer look at the deceased insect. Pictured on the 16th September 2022.
Many of my aquatic plants have decaying leaves. We’re heading into autumn now, so plants’ leaves will naturally be dying back, but these leaves have decayed due to the drought. There were low water levels in the pond throughout the summer, due to the lack of rain. Pictured on the 16th September 2022.
My pond is planted and designed to look at its best from March/April to July/August. However, it is not just about looks – this area of my garden is teaming with life, throughout the year.

Dragonflies and Damselflies

I was so lucky to get a quick snap of this handsome dragonfly, as it only paused for the briefest moment. It’s not the clearest image, but I think this might be a male Common Darter Dragonfly. Pictured on the 24th August 2022.

I’ve not seen many damselflies or dragonflies since my last update.  There aren’t as many dragonflies and damselflies around at this time of year.  We’ve gone from having no rain at all for a pro-longed period to now having regular rain showers.  Many of the times I’ve been out in my garden it has been raining, which is not the ideal weather to spot dragonflies and damselflies.

Badgers

I never thought that a badger would ever visit my garden.  I have a small garden that’s sandwiched between two busy roads – this is not a location I want to encourage the badgers to travel to – I’d far rather know they were safe and away from traffic.  Having said that, when I saw these badgers my heart jumped for joy!  I’m excited to share this video of badgers visiting my wildlife pond.

Birds

I don’t see any rare or unusual birds in my garden but I love the flocks of Sparrows, the Blackbirds I call Bob and Kate, and the Blue Tits (known as Ken and Brenda) with all my heart.  This video shows some of the birds that have visited my wildlife pond.

Bees

The tatty, fading flowers of Viper’s Bugloss (Echium vulgare) continue to draw in fast-moving bees that rapidly spin from flower-to-flower. Pictured on the 21st August 2022.

I love spotting bees.  My garden plants have been far drier than they would like this summer, and as a consequence they were not able to produce as much nectar as they can generate when the plants are regularly irrigated.

I’ve written plant pages about many of the plants I’ve grown in my garden.  For more information about Echium vulgare, please click here.

This white-flowered Water Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis scorpioides alba) is a delight. These pretty flowers attract a variety of tiny bee species, as well as honey bees, and various hoverfly and butterflies. Pictured on the 21st August 2022.
Here’s a look at one of the sweet little bees that was gently but speedily rolling from one Echium vulgare flower to another – all along this faded stem of Viper’s Bugloss. Pictured on the 24th August 2022.
On the 31st August 2022, I spotted this sweet bee on the Verbena bonariensis just as I took the picture, the hoverfly arrived. Verbena bonariensis is a fabulous plant for bees, hoverflies, butterflies, and moths.

For more information about Verbena bonariensis, please click here.

I adore my ‘Kaiu’ clematis. These flowers attract a slow but steady stream of bees, hoverflies, and small butterflies. Pictured on the 2nd September 2022.

For more information about Clematis ‘Kaiu’, please click here.

It was lovely to see this bee visiting the Verbena bonariensis flowers that are growing alongside my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 11th September 2022.

For more information about Verbena bonariensis, please click here.

Border Plants

This Viper’s Bugloss (also known by its botanical name, Echium vulgare) plant has collapsed due to the drought followed by an afternoon of heavy rainfall, but these seemingly insignificant flowers have been attracting a steady stream of bees throughout the day. Pictured on the 18th August 2022.

For more information about Echium vulgare, please click here.

Verbena bonariensis are amazing plants for butterflies and bees. A wide range of insects are attracted to these pretty mauve flowers. Verbena bonariensis are perennials. When I was gardening over 25 years ago, Verbena bonariensis didn’t used to survive our UK winters, but nowadays these plants return to delight us year after year (they are adept at self-seeding, too). I love growing plants like Verbena bonariensis that sustain our insects with their long-lasting flowers. Pictured on the 24th August 2022.
This Verbena bonariensis flower has been flowering for many months and is now so ancient it looks almost woollen; yet still butterflies and bees flock to the flowers. Pictured on the 24th August 2022.

For more information about Verbena bonariensis, please click here.

On the 28th August 2022, we rescued this Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) which was caught up in some netting. It must have been hungry and thirsty, as this Small White Butterfly paused briefly to take up some of the salts on our skin. Butterflies have a long proboscis that they use to drink nectar, as well as salts and minerals.
Can you spot the Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) enjoy a drink from the dew that has collected in this rose’s petals?

For more information about Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’, please click here.

Now refreshed and revitalised after its pit-stop, this Small White Butterfly flew away.
I spotted this sweet bee on the Verbena bonariensis that’s growing in the narrow border around my wildlife pond, on the 31st August 2022.
If I had deadheaded these Veronica spicata plants they would have continued flowering all summer. I can’t get to the other side of the pond to cut the plants back, but that doesn’t matter, as these seeds will propagate additional Veronica spicata plants along this narrow border and the seeds will be food for birds and other wildlife. Pictured on the 30th August 2022.

Veronica spicata with a late final flush of flowers. Pictured on the 7th September 2022.
I spotted this Green Bottle fly searching for open Sedum flowers by my wildlife pond on the 10th September 2022.
It was lovely to see this bee visiting the Verbena bonariensis flowers that are growing alongside my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 11th September 2022.

For more information about Verbena bonariensis, please click here.

I don’t know if you’ll be able to see it, but a tiny bee was feasting on the nectar of these Myosotis scorpioides alba flowers when I took this picture, on the 12th September 2022.

For more information about Myosotis scorpioides alba, please click here.

Veronica spicata with a late final flush of flowers. Pictured on the 7th September 2022.
Here are some of the plants I am growing in the narrow border that surrounds my wildlife pond. Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’, rhubarb, and Sedums. Pictured on the 12th September 2022.

For more information about Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’, please click here.

This is ‘Livingstone’ an autumn cropping rhubarb. I won’t be harvesting any rhubarb from this plant this year, as the past summer has been so hot and dry – the worst conditions for rhubarb. Rhubarb thrives in wet summers and drier winters.

For more information about rhubarb, please click here.

These Sedums are usually a magnet for bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. However, during my briefest of pond visits in the cool damp air, on the 16th September 2022, no insects were in sight.
The first Symphyotrichum novae-angliae flowers to open – pictured on the 16th September 2022.

For more information about Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, please click here.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Pötschke’ opening its first flowers of the season on 16th September 2022.

For information about Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Pötschke’, please click here.

Climbing Plants

I suspect that I will have lost my Meadowsweet (also known by its botanical name of Filipendula ulmaria) during the drought this summer. You might just be able to make out the faded Meadowsweet flower stems leaning over into my Clematis ‘Paul Farges’. Pictured after the rainstorm that broke the drought on the 17th August 2022.

Earlier this summer, the roses in my garden looked as if they had been set on fire!  Things were looking so bad for one of the roses I’m growing by my pond that I decided to give my climbing rose ‘Strawberry Hill’ a significant haircut.  It is now a shadow of its former self, but looking much better already.  Thankfully, after the recent rains my roses have all now produced green leaves and lots of gorgeous, scented flowers.

My Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’ rose was fantastic last year. This year my plants have been hit by the drought – I only watered my roses a couple of times this summer and I garden on free-draining, sandy soil. Pictured on the 20th August 2022.

The climbing rose I’m growing up an arch next to my wildlife pond is called ‘Strawberry Hill’.  For more information about Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’, please click here.

My Clematis ‘Kaiu’ flowers are fading now. This is a drought-tolerant climber that I adore and would highly recommend.

I adore my Clematis ‘Kaiu’; find more information about this climber, here.

I adore sweetly scented flowers. Almost all of the roses I grow are chosen for their scent as much as the appearance of their flowers. This rose is ‘Strawberry Hill’ – I’m growing this rose up an arch by my pond. My roses have been weakened by this summer’s drought and this rose plant is now a shadow of its former self.

For more information about Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’, please click here.

‘Kaiu’ clematis is past its best but is still in bloom. Pictured on the 2nd September 2022.

For more information about Clematis ‘Kaiu’, please click here.

My ‘Strawberry Hill’ rose’s leaves still show signs of Rose Black Spot and distress from the drought. Pictured on the 1st September 2022.
Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’ produces highly scented flowers with an incredibly powerful sweet perfume. On a warm summer’s day, when this rose is in bloom, the area all around my wildlife pond is filled with this rose’s perfume.
I am amazed at my roses, we’ve had some rain this week and they have sprung into bloom! This flower is the most strawberry-pink coloured rose my ‘Strawberry Hill’ rose has produced for some months. This flower is also fuller with a greater number of petals. Pictured on the 30th August 2022.
‘Strawberry Hill’ roses become paler in colour as the blooms age.

For more information about Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’, please click here.

Clematis ‘Paul Farges’ is a really floriferous and robust clematis! These plants need a tall obelisk, a trellis, or a large framework of wires to climb up. Plants grow around 3m-5m (12ft-16ft) tall but can be directed to use more of their energy growing horizontally if you guide the plants every few weeks in spring and summer. I have a patch of stinging nettles growing around this clematis and so I allowed this top section to grow up. Clematis ‘Paul Farges’ looks very pretty and attracts a range of insects. Pictured on the 30th August 2022.
Early in the season, my ‘Strawberry Hill’ roses produce fully double flowers that conceal their pollen from bees, hoverflies, and other pollinating insects. After the first or second flush of flowers, my rose then produces semi-double flowers which are open and accessible to insects.

For more information about Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’, please click here.

I am such a fan of tiny bell-shaped flowers that attract bees and butterflies. This is Clematis ‘Rooguchi’, it’s growing part of the way up the arch by my wildlife pond. I guess it’s about 5ft tall. Pictured on the 30th August 2022.
This ‘Strawberry Hill’ rose’s foliage is greening up nicely. Earlier this summer the foliage was in terrible condition, showing clear signs of Rose Black Spot and damage caused by lack of water caused by drought conditions. The older, unsightly foliage remains, but new fresh green leaves are now opening.

For more information about Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’, please click here.

Hedera helix in all its glory. Pictured on the 11th September 2022. What a fantastic plant Hedera helix is! This plant has been through a difficult year with no additional watering, yet despite the worst drought and hottest temperatures I can remember, my Hedera helix is about the bloom, producing hundreds of flowers to sustain bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies, and other pollinating insects.

For more information about ivy – Hedera helix – please click here.

A closer look at the Hedera helix flower buds by my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 11th September 2022.

Butterflies

I spotted this Painted Lady Butterfly at around 6.45pm, whilst I was measuring how deep the water in my wildlife pond had dropped. I nipped back indoors to get my camera. When I returned, I thought I’d missed him, but then I spotted the Painted Lady Butterfly on my Buddleja ‘Ellen’s Blue’. Pictured on the 15th August 2022.

I have this blue Buddleja growing fairly near my pond; for more information about Buddleja ‘Ellen’s Blue’, please click here.

This is the first Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui) I’ve seen this year. Pictured on the 15th August 2022.

This is the only Painted Lady Butterfly I’ve seen.  I am hoping that I’ll see more butterflies, as more of the Hedera helix (ivy) flowers open.

This Large White Butterfly (Pieris brassicae) is enjoying feasting upon Verbena bonariensis nectar in the narrow border around my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 24th August 2022.

Verbena bonariensis is a wonderful plant to grow for bees, butterflies, moths, and hoverflies.  For more information about Verbena bonariensis, please click here.

A Large White Butterfly (Pieris brassicae) feasting on Verbena bonariensis nectar near my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 24th August 2022.

For gardening advice for September, please click here.

To see every update from my wildlife pond, please click here.

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