An Update from my Frosty Wildlife Pond in Winter!

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Winter

On my way to our wildlife pond I was accompanied by this charming Robin who has puffed up his feathers to protect himself against the cold. The rose that this Robin is perched upon doesn’t look much now, but Rosa ‘Wild Edric’ is a spectacular rose with deep raspberry-pink coloured flowers that are blessed with the most delicious and powerful fragrance.

Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond in winter.  We’ve had a light sprinkling of snow here in Surrey just a few moments ago, which was very exciting!

Since my last update, my wildlife pond has changed considerably as the plants’ foliage has died back and retreated.  What once was a lush, leafy sanctuary is still just as important a refuge for wildlife, but this area is now resting until springtime.

Here’s a look at my wildlife pond on the 10th December 2022. The weather this weekend has been bitterly cold. All the plants in and around my pond have been coated in an icy layer of frost.

I’ve not carried out any work in this area of my garden since my last pond update.  In fact, I’ve not touched any of the plants in this area of my garden for a long time.  I allow all my plants to die back naturally and I leave almost all of the autumn leaves in my garden alone (read more about what to do with fallen autumn leaves in this article).

My waterfall hasn’t frozen over and is still operating, but there is a layer of ice covering a large proportion of the surface of my wildlife pond. Gorgeous ice sculptures cloak some of my aquatic plants near the waterfall, adding to the pond’s winter beauty. Pictured on the 10th December 2022.

No work is needed here by my wildlife pond until springtime, when the faded foliage of the aquatic plants and the herbaceous perennials growing in the narrow border around the pond can be cut back and removed.  I tend to do this just before the new growth emerges, it doesn’t take long.

Here’s another view of my wildlife pond decorated by frost on the 11th December 2022. This area of my garden might not look very exciting now, but this pond currently holds vasts numbers of dragonfly and damselfly larvae which will emerge as dragonflies and damselflies next year. My pond provides a vital habitat for frogs, newts, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife.

Frogs, toads, and newts will be hibernating in our gardens now, along with hedgehogs, butterflies, moths, and other wildlife.

These Ivy leaves display a pictotee edging of twinkling frost. I think frost is more beautiful than any diamond!

Aquatic Plants

Here’s a look at my aquatic plants pictured frozen, sealed inside my wildlife pond on the 10th December 2022.

I’ve left my aquatic plants alone to die back naturally in my pond.  I won’t touch any of my aquatic plants until springtime.  All of the plants I’m growing in my pond are fully hardy, they will have no problem surviving the bitterly cold temperatures this weekend.

The leaves of this Myosotis scorpioides alba plant are beautifully outlined in frost. Pictured on the 11th December 2022.

This pretty aquatic plant you see pictured above is Myosotis scorpioides alba – an absolute darling of our wildlife pond!  This white flowered form is harder to find than the regular, blue-flowered water forget-me-not, which is also known by the botanical name Myosotis scorpiodes.

Dragonfly and damselfly larvae will be safe in my wildlife pond, below the thin later of ice. The centre of my wildlife pond is the deepest part of the pond and won’t freeze over thereby protecting the wildlife below. If your pond has frozen over there is no need to smash the ice or do anything. At this time of year, we can all help wildlife by putting a bowl of fresh water out for birds and wildlife – to allow them to drink and bathe.
This picture shows the frozen surface of my wildlife pond on the 10th December 2022. All of my aquatic plants are hardy; they won’t be troubled by the cold temperatures this weekend.


This waterfall keeps the water moving, which has so far prevented the surface of the pond freezing over. Birds and other wildlife are able to drink from the waterfall or from edge of the pond.

My waterfall you see in these pictures is the same waterfall that I installed when this pond was created in 2019.  Since April 2019, I’ve been trialling the following products, in my wildlife pond:

Here’s another look at the waterfall and this area of my wildlife pond today (11th December 2022). The temperatures have dropped again and as a consequence there are more beautiful icicles and natural ice sculptures in the pond.

I’ve used a Oase AquaMax Eco Premium 10000 pump to power this small waterfall that circulates the water through the pond.  This waterfall has worked fantastically!  I’ve not experienced any problems with any of the Oase products I’ve used – I’ve found them to be easy to use, effective products.

My Oase AquaMax Eco Premium 10000 pump generates the movement of the waterfall; it’s this movement that has so far prevented the water in this area of the pond from freezing over.  If you’ve got a pond, you can keep an area of open water that’s available to wildlife simply by using a ping-pong ball – leave the ball floating on the surface of the water.  The ball will naturally bob up and down on the water, and it’s this continual movement that helps prevent the water freezing over.  Using a floating ball in this way would also work to prevent bird baths (or bowls of water left out for wildlife) from freezing solid.


We see quite a few Robins in our garden; they are incredibly tame. I cherish being so close to our garden birds and find it so relaxing to hear the melodies of their songs.

This friendly Robin is perched upon the ‘Wild Edric’ rose that I planted near our wildlife pond.  This rose is an established plant, in the summertime this rose is full of beautiful flowers with the most exquisite and intoxicating perfume.  ‘Wild Edric’ is definitely one of my favourite roses!

Our Blackbirds Bob and Kate, and the other birds in our garden have been feasting upon the ivy berries by our wildlife pond.

Ivy is also known by its botanical name – Hedera helix.  If you’re looking to create a wildlife garden I’d recommend planting Hedera helix in your garden; this is a wonderful plant for wildlife!

I gave this robin a fat ball to ensure he had enough food. I also have bird feeders with seeds and fat balls on offer for the birds in my garden.

Climbing Plants

I love Hedera helix! This plant was holding both open flowers, pollinated flowers, and developing berries when I took this photograph on the 2nd November 2022.

I can’t stop writing about Hedera helix; I love this plant so much!

Hedera helix flowers open in succession; as the flowers open (and are pollinated) at different times. This results in ivy berries ripening at in earlier and later times and providing food for birds throughout the winter.
Most of the honeysuckle flowers have now faded but there are still a few blooms on the Lonicera periclymenum plants by my wildlife pond. These flowers have an intoxicating and heady fragrance. Pictured on the 2nd November 2022.

Before the cold weather arrived this weekend, I was still spotting a few Lonicera periclymenum flowers in the garden.

I took this picture of Lonicera periclymenum flower buds in November. These later flowers were a welcome source of food for pollinators.
Here’s a look at the ivy (Hedera helix) growing by my wildlife pond. Ivy is a superb plant for wildlife; this plant is currently topped with berries to help feed and sustain the birds that visit my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 10th December 2022.
I’m growing ‘Strawberry Hill’ roses around the arch next to our garden pond. These plants have been flowering from May to December. Pictured on the 10th December 2022.

The ‘Strawberry Hill’ roses by the wildlife pond have been blooming intermittently all year from May to December.  If you’re looking for a climbing rose with a powerful fragrance, this is one to consider.  ‘Strawberry Hill’ roses boast an exceptionally sweet perfume, which fills this area of my garden with scent on warm summer days.

Here’s a closer look at the ivy berries, the stems have flopped a little due to the cold – this is nothing to worry about.
My ‘Strawberry Hill’ roses’ leaves look exquisite with their sparkly coat of frost!
I just adore this Ivy hedge and love watching the birds feasting upon its Ivy berries. Pictured on the 11th December 2022.

I am head over-heels in love with Ivy (Hedera helix)!  Find more information about this stunning plant by clicking here.

Frost is so beautiful. Jack Frost has decorated the berries, stems, and leaves of all the plants in and around my wildlife pond.
Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’ foliage dressed in the most magnificent frost. Pictured on the 11th December 2022.

Border Plants

A late Hesperis matronalis var. albiflora flower. I was pretty lax at dead-heading this summer and I’ve not dead-headed anything for months, so it is amazing to see this plant in flower so late in the year! Pictured on the 6th November 2022.

It was only a week or two ago that I was enjoying the scent of Hesperis matronalis var. albiflora flowers, but the cold weather has now extinguished the last of their blooms.

Don’t worry if you see your rhubarb plants wilting in the cold weather, it is totally natural. Cold winter temperatures actually help rhubarb plants. There is nothing wrong with your plant, it will grow up again next year. Allow your rhubarb leaves to die back; please don’t cut your rhubarb plant back or do anything. Pictured on the 10th December 2022.

My Rhubarb plants add a lush leafy vibe to my wildlife pond in summertime, but the icy weather has now knocked these plants back, leaving them looking limp and lifeless.  This is totally natural, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with this rhubarb plant – it will retreat into the earth now, but will grow back to delight us again next spring!

NB: Never cut back rhubarb stems, always leave the stems and leaves to die back in autumn and winter.  In spring and summertime, rhubarb stems should be pulled, not cut.  I stop harvesting most of my rhubarb plants in June (I also grow late-harvesting rhubarb varieties, which can be harvested after June), to ensure the plants have energy to grow back next year.  When harvesting rhubarb during the growing season, I pull and twist each stem, carefully removing the rhubarb stems one at a time.  I never advocate stripping a rhubarb plant – I always leave several stems and leaves growing on the plant to allow the plant to maintain its strength and sustain itself through photosynthesis.

I adore growing and eating rhubarb!  If you fancy growing rhubarb in your garden then I’d advise ordering rhubarb crowns now to plant over winter, whilst the plants are dormant.  When planting new rhubarb crowns, I wait until the ground isn’t frozen and I mulch around the rhubarb crown after planting using homemade garden compost or peat-free compost.  I always leave the plants to establish themselves; I don’t harvest any rhubarb during the first year after planting.  Rhubarb harvesting commences during the second year after planting.

Here’s a closer look at the teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) seed heads by my wildlife pond. Birds feed on teasel seeds; although I hope that at least one or two seeds will drop to the ground to produce new plants that will produce flowers and seeds for future generations of bees, butterflies, and birds to enjoy.
These plants in the border around my wildlife pond may appear dead, as their flowers have long faded and their stems have died back, but both the Hylotelephium telephium and this Inula hookeri are perennials. They will grow back next year. I always leave the dead stems in place on my perennials over autumn and winter, as these vertical, hollow stems provide places for insects to hibernate and leaving the stems in place can help to protect the plants over winter. I cut these dead stems back in springtime, just before the new growth emerges.
Hylotelephium telephium seed heads decorated with frost. Pictured on the 11th December 2022.
The waterfall in my wildlife pond is still operating and this edge of the pond is not entirely frozen over. This side of the pond is decorated with the most exquisite natural ice sculptures and icicles.

For more gardening advice for December, please click here.

For more articles about wildlife gardening, please click here.

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

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