An Update From My Wildlife Pond as Aquatic & Garden Plants Take on Autumn Tints

An Update From My Wildlife Pond in Autumn

A view across my wildlife pond on the 19th September 2022. Hedera helix (ivy) was in flower and in bud but there were only two of my aquatic plants with any flowers out.

Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond – it’s lovely to be able to share my pond with you and show you around!  Since my last update, my wildlife pond is now looking more autumnal; the plants in this area of my garden are draining the energetic green tones from their foliage and starting to display a few yellow leaves as they gently let us know that autumn has arrived.

Protecting Dragonflies & Damselflies in my Wildlife Pond Over the Autumn and Winter Months

This is the view from the other side of my wildlife pond; some of my aquatic plants’ leaves are starting to die back. I took this picture on the 19th September 2022.

I haven’t touched any of my aquatic plants since my last update.  My advice is to go against traditional gardening advice which advises us to remove the fading leaves of aquatic plants at this time of year and neaten everything up by stripping some of the vital ingredients wildlife need for survival from the pond.  I totally disagree with this recommendation – it is vitally important to leave aquatic plants’ foliage alone until early springtime.  Dragonflies and damselflies continue laying their eggs in autumn and their larvae will develop during this time.

I’ve observed dragonflies laying their eggs on the decaying foliage in my pond.  I want to help these stunningly beautiful creatures and protect their future generations, I have no wish to remove their eggs or prevent egg-laying opportunities.  My advice is to leave your pond alone throughout the autumn and winter months, and save any tasks until February or March.

Create Safe Spaces for Hibernating Frogs, Toads, Newts, & Other Wildlife

We built this stone stack or cairn last year to provide a safe place for frogs, toads, newts, insects and other wildlife. This evergreen Clematis armandii was planted a couple of years ago. The wooden boxes are nests for solitary bees. Pictured on the 20th February 2022.

In fact, we can protect all manner of wildlife by leaving our ponds alone in autumn.  Many creatures will be hibernating through the autumn and winter months and we have no desire to harm or disturb them.  Toads and frogs hibernate in fallen autumn leaves, log piles, under hedges, in compost heaps and mud, rockeries, and stone piles.  A couple of years ago, we built a stone cairn by our wildlife pond, which we filled with sticks and autumn leaves (see picture above) to create a safe habitat for hibernation.

Take Time to Relax with Nature

This picture shows my wildlife pond on the 23rd October 2022. The pond is full of water, as the rain pounded down all night and all morning, as well as over the past few days. Many of the rhubarb and perennials’ foliage is now turning yellow and dying back in response to the cooler temperatures and changing season.

I spotted a Wren this morning in amongst the Ivy (Hedera helix) and then I observed another Wren on the fence; Wrens are such pretty birds.  The leaves of the Ivy hedge by my wildlife pond shimmer as sheltering birds move around in safety, hidden inside the hedge.  Ivy is a precious plant, it provides a safe hiding, nesting, and feeding space for all manner of our garden birds, including Blackbirds, Sparrows, Blue Tits, Robins, Great Tits, and Coal Tits.

My wildlife pond is designed to look its best from March until September, but there are still plants with lots of flowers, leaves, or seeds for wildlife to feast upon. Pictured on the 23rd October 2022.

My wildlife pond is now full of rainwater.  The pond water is crystal clear and beautiful; the waterfall at the back of the pond is a popular bathing location for birds.  This is such a calming place; it’s just so relaxing to spend time watching bees and the occasional butterfly around the ivy, as well as being entertained by the antics of our garden birds!

Algae & Duckweed

I spotted this Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) taking a drink from my wildlife pond on the 18th September 2022.

There is no visible algae in our wildlife pond at the moment; the water is crystal clear.  However, we do have a sprinkling of duckweed through our pond.  The duckweed hasn’t cloaked the pond – it is not enough to cause any problems for the other aquatic plants.

Duckweed has the benefit of providing a safe landing space for bees, hoverflies, and wasps that fly in for a drink.  If you’ve got a pond in your garden, ensure that you have a variety of places where bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects have safe access to drink.  Remember that these insects can’t swim and so they need to drink from shallow water and find safe landing spaces.

This picture shows my wildlife pond on the 23rd October 2022. The pond is full of water, as the rain pounded down all night and all morning, as well as over the past few days. We still have some duckweed in the pond, but it’s not a problem. Many of the rhubarb and perennials’ foliage is now turning yellow and dying back in response to the cooler temperatures and changing season.

Aquatic Plants

Myosotis scorpioides alba in flower on the 19th September 2022. This aquatic plant boasts a long flowering period and flowers for bees and butterflies.

Myosotis scorpioides alba is the only aquatic plant that’s currently still in flower in my wildlife pond.  My aquatic plants look their best and bloom from spring until the end of summer or early autumn (from March until September).

These Iris pseudacorus seed pods are ripening and splitting. Pictured on the 25th September 2022.
Here’s a closer look at Myosotis scorpioides alba in flower on the 25th September 2022. This plant is looking remarkably fresh considering the growing conditions the aquatic plants in my pond have endured this summer and autumn has arrived.
I was surprised to see this mini white Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris alba) in bloom in my wildlife pond on the 2nd October 2022. I didn’t see many of these dainty flowers earlier this spring, but after seeing this bloom I am hopeful for more flowers in springtime.
Iris pseudacorus seed pods in the sunshine on the 2nd October 2022.
Myosotis scorpioides alba flowers gleaming out from my wildlife pond on the 2nd October 2022.
Iris pseudacorus seed pods ripening in the weekend sunshine on the 9th October 2022.
Myosotis scorpioides alba flowers twinkling in the sunshine in my wildlife pond on the 9th October 2022.
A view across my wildlife pond on the 23rd October 2022. We still have colour and flowers from Hylotelephium spectabile, Hedera helix (ivy), Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Pötschke’ and Symphyotrichum novae-angliae. Myosotis scorpioides alba is the only aquatic plant still in bloom.

Snails

This Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum) spent the day hidden under a rhubarb leaf, resting on a rhubarb stem. Pictured on the 18th September 2022.

I don’t use any slug pellets or any deterrents for slugs and snails in my garden.  Slugs and snails are an important part of the food chain and are predated upon my frogs, toads, newts, thrushes, blackbirds, and other birds and wildlife.

Climbing Plants

Hedera helix is in bud with a few flowers just starting to open. Hedera helix is a fantastic plant for a wildlife garden. These flowers will sustain Ivy Bees, bees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, and other pollinating insects. The berries that follow feed birds over the winter months.

I filmed this video of the Hedera helix by my wildlife pond on a cool, overcast day in mid September 2022, when there were just a few tiny Hedera helix flowers open.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve not been dead-heading my Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’ flowers promptly as they’ve faded, but the flowers are still coming! Pictured on the 19th September 2022.

The ‘Strawberry Hill’ roses growing by my wildlife pond have such a sweet scent!

Clematis ‘Rooguchi’ pictured in bloom on the 19th September 2022. This climber is very restrained and contained; plants produce pretty bell-shaped flowers in an inky shade of blue.
Hedera helix flowers are scented – they have a light honey fragrance. Pictured on the 25th September 2022.

Hedera helix is such a darling plant.  I feel Ivy is an essential plant for any garden.

In August, I gave my ‘Strawberry Hill’ rose a serious haircut and this plant is now a shadow of its former self, but this plant is making a comeback! Pictured on the 24th September 2022.

‘Strawberry Hill’ roses are very floriferous.  I cut back these roses fairly hard in the summer – not something I’d usually do but it worked and revitalised these roses for the remainder of the summer months.  My ‘Strawberry Hill’ roses have been a delight this autumn!

Here’s a closer look at Hedera helix flowers. I am a huge fan of Hedera helix – this plant offers so much for wildlife. These flowers are adored by bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and other pollinating insects.

Hedera helix brings an understated beauty to my wildlife pond.  If you don’t have ivy in your garden, you are missing out!

I love watching the bees in my garden. On sunny days my Hedera helix gently hums with the sweet sound of bees buzzing from flower to flower.
My ‘Strawberry Hill’ rose has surprised me by producing some lovely new foliage and flowers. Pictured on the 24th September 2022.

In May and June, the first flowers from my ‘Strawberry Hill’ roses are double and their pollen is hidden from view by their petals.  However, the later flowers in July, August, September, and October produce accessible flowers and bees can access their pollen.

Hedera helix is full of flowers, flower buds, and pollinated flowers. Pictured on the 2nd October 2022.
The ivy (Hedera helix) by my pond is still a buzz with bees and hoverflies. It has also been attracting a lot of beautiful moths at night. Pictured on the 23rd October 2022.

Border Plants

This Rhubarb ‘Raspberry Red’ plant was looking fantastic when I took this picture on the 19th September 2022.

I grow a number of rhubarb varieties in my garden.  Rhubarb stems tastes amazing, but it’s an attractive plant, too.  Rhubarb leaves are poisonous – so don’t eat them, but the leaves make fantastic compost.

Here’s a closer look at the teasels (Dipsacus fullonum) next to my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 19th September 2022.
I’ve got a couple of Stachys monieri ‘Hummelo’ plants growing in the narrow border around my pond. The flowers of these hardy, perennial plants are popular with bees and other pollinating insects. Pictured on the 24th September 2022.
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae is such an invasive plant that will rampage through any border. However, this plant is resistant to mildew and bees and butterflies love feeding from the flowers. It’s also drought tolerant. Pictured on the 25th September 2022.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae is a vigorous plant with flowers that are popular with bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects.  I love bees, butterflies, moths, and hoverflies, and I adore growing plants that these insects will visit.

My Verbena bonariensis flowers are pretty ancient now – this plant has been blooming all summer. Pictured on the 25th September 2022.

Verbena bonariensis is such a floriferous and useful plant with an extended flowering season.  Everyone has room for this stunning plant in their garden!

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Pötschke’ in bloom on the 2nd October 2022. These flowers attract bees and butterflies, but they are not as popular with insects as my ivy (Hedera helix) flowers.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Pötschke’ is a vigorous perennial with vivid pink flowers.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae in bloom in the border beside my wildlife pond on the 2nd October 2022.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae is a totally resilient and drought tolerant plant that thrives in my garden’s sandy soil.

A view across my wildlife pond on the 23rd October 2022. We still have colour and flowers from Hylotelephium spectabile, Hedera helix (ivy), Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Pötschke’ and Symphyotrichum novae-angliae. Myosotis scorpioides alba is the only aquatic plant still in bloom.
Here is my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 23rd October 2022. Hylotelephium spectabile is the colourful flowering plant in the front of this picture.

Bees

I managed to get this quick snap of an Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae)feeding on one of the ivy (Hedera helix) flowers by my wildlife pond on the 18th September 2022.
Here’s a picture of a bee feasting upon Hedera helix flowers. This plant is full of insects! Pictured on the 25th September 2022.
A dear little bee feasting on nectar from the Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Pötschke’ flowers next to my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 2nd October 2022.

For more gardening advice for October, please click here.

For more articles about wildlife gardening, please click here.

For gardening advice for November, please click here.

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

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One thought on “An Update From My Wildlife Pond as Aquatic & Garden Plants Take on Autumn Tints

  1. Ernest Cavallo

    October 23, 2022 at 3:41pm

    Thank you from the USA. I discovered you when you published the list of snowdrop events. Yes, I am an American Galanthophile. I too have let ivy grow up a tree where it is in bloom. Yesterday there were so many bees on it, I thought they were swarming. I also agree with your suggestion that gardeners leave the debris in place during the winter. Biodiversity trumps neatness. I look forward to all your posts.
    Ernie

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      October 23, 2022 at 3:45pm

      Hello Ernest, it’s great to connect with you! Thank you for looking out for nature and protecting biodiversity. Warmest wishes, Beth

  2. Emma

    October 23, 2022 at 8:11pm

    Dear Beth,
    Like Ernie, I have an Hedera Helix climbing high up a tree in the wild section of my garden. I have also noticed a large amount of buzzing busy bees all around it (so much activity for this late October season in North East Germany !) it was just lovely. I notice fall has been very mellow so far all over Northern Europe.
    I wonder if you could, please, point me towards best practices to propagate Hedera Helix ? How should I select the best parts of the plant to multiply, and how should I multiply ?

    My pond, just like the brook at the very end of my garden, is still dry. Has been for months now, despite the rain we’ve had in early fall. I haven’t seen any duck, water fowl, heron, etc. since late spring. I feel it is very disturbing, for the environment as well as for myself. I feel actual distress over it.
    And now, reading your pond update, I’m thinking : “no more dragonflies/damselflies !”. I usually see so many of them and in such variety ! Where are they going to lay their eggs now ? Even the bottom of the pond is dry (maybe 50cm deep with very thick mud, but no puddle). I don’t know what – if anything – I can do.

    The back of my garden, which I call the “wild area”, is already covered in a thick layer of leaves. I have cleaned the path, and that’s it. My elderly neighbour has already asked me when I would “tidy up” ! I dutifully admired her spotless lawn and raked borders (she has a very nice – if overly-manicured – garden) but told her I was leaving the leaves on the ground in this section for the hedgehogs. I know she thinks her foreign young neighbour is very eccentric and a bit lazy 😉 To make up for it in her eyes and remain on speaking terms with her, I make sure my section of sidewalk is raked and perfectly weeded.

    Praying for a rainy fall, a snowy winter, and the return of the water…
    Emma from Germany

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      October 24, 2022 at 9:16am

      Dear Emma

      It’s so lovely to hear from you. I am so happy to hear that you’re planning to propagate Hedera helix – hooray for such a wonderful plant and hooray for you! I find that semi-ripe cuttings taken in July, August, and the beginning of September are the most effective method/timing to propagate Hedera helix (here’s some info: https://www.pumpkinbeth.com/2020/07/new-plants-for-free/). However, there is nothing stopping you taking a few cuttings now and taking more next year. Choose juvenile stems that have lots of lobed healthy leaves (mature Hedera helix leaves are heart-shaped or oval – avoid taking cuttings with stems holding these leaves). You might be able to find a stem with some adventitious roots – this would be fantastic! (Adventitious roots look a little like bristles on the stem, they help Hedera helix stems cling onto walls and will turn into regular roots if they come in contact with the soil. Don’t remove too many leaves from the cutting material, as the foliage will help the shoots develop. Take a container with holes at the base to allow water to drain away when you water and fill the container with peat-free compost or a mix of soil and peat-free compost. Use a pencil of dibber to make holes around the edge of the pot and insert your cuttings and the water. It’s important not to let the stem/roots dry out, so pop a clear plastic bag over the top. You could also pop a few cuttings into the soil and see how they get on.

      I am so sorry to hear that your pond is still so low. I understand your pain; it is so stressful trying to manage pond water levels; I would be full of anxiety too – I really feel for you. Do you have any water butts or tanks you can attach to your roof + shed/garage/greenhouse roofs to collect rainwater to top your pond up? I am sure that the water you have will still have dragonfly large from earlier in the summer and the water (though lower than we’d like) is still full of life. I hope you will still have dragonflies and damselflies visiting your pond, even though their numbers are lower than usual. My pond is full but I am seeing lower numbers of dragonflies and damselflies than usual.

      Thank you for leaving your leaves for wildlife and keeping your paths and sidewalk swept and weeded. You’re are a dream neighbour. Thank you for taking such great care of your beautiful garden – you are making a difference.

      I hope you will be blessed with rain soon.

      Sending you a hug and my warmest wishes
      Beth

  3. Barb

    October 23, 2022 at 10:07pm

    Lovely photos and a fascinating update as ever, PumpkinBeth. It’s good to see the water levels back up in our little pond too, after a dry summer. Thank you too for the tips on useful and colourful autumn plants for insects.

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