We decided to create a wildlife pond, to see if we could attract more creatures into the garden. There are some good videos on Youtube on how to create a wildlife pond. Monty Don from Gardeners World has a good video too.
We chose a suitable site which, was in full sun in the morning, shady in the afternoon and full sun in the evening. The area next to the azaleas and conifers was very suitable and more level.
We used a rope to make the outline of the pond. This took several attempts to make sure we were happy with the position, shape and size.
Warren then started the task of excavating the pond which, was hard work especially on such a hot day. I wheeled the barrow along to the croft and tipped the turf and soil into a large heap. After thirty barrow loads the pond looked like this.
We made sure there were three levels for different plants and amphibians to live. There were many roots from the shrubs and conifers in the soil, which we removed. There were also lots of stones and some broken glass and pieces of old china cups.
We lined the pond with an old blanket and the recommended pre liner. Once we were satisfied that there were no sharp stones or sticks in the hole, we placed the plastic liner into the pond.
We used water from the water butts and tap water to fill the pond. I climbed inside the pond to ensure the liner fitted correctly and pleated the plastic. The weight of the water held the liner in place.
We then needed to check the level of the pond using a long stick and spirit level. The pond needed to be raised at the bottom of the slope and the side where the azaleas were. We used turf to build embankments in these two areas. Once the embankments were finished we cut the liner to the correct size, leaving a 30 cm overlap. The sides were then buried under soil excavated from the hole. This gave a nice neat edge.
The pond was now ready for landscaping and planting.
I sent for aquatic plants from a pond specialist called Pond Plants UK, to ensure we did not receive any invasive species. The plants arrived within two days and were good quality and ready to plant. We chose a pink water lily, a bog bean and 5 different oxygenators for the bottom and sides.
The water lily needed to be placed at a 30 cm depth to start with and once the leaves grew, it could be lowered to the bottom. The depth of the pond is 100cm in the centre, which should stop the water freezing completely in the winter. I had to climb into the water to reach the level for the water lily.
We threw three of the oxygenators into the water and they sunk to the bottom. We planted two in recycled plastic baskets lined with garden fleece. We then placed gravel around the top to stop the soil washing away and making the water murky. Warren placed a length of hosepipe into one of the folds in the liner. This will act as an overflow during wet weather. This was working very well on Tuesday 23rd, when it poured all day and night. The water looked less clear after all the rain. We used a childs’ fishing net to remove the leaves from the surface.
There had been a rockfall on the side of the road heading to Waternish. There was a fantastic supply of pieces of level rock to surround the pond. We made sure some of the rocks sloped into the water to enable amphibians, birds, mammals and insects to climb out safely.
We now need some gravel and more plants for the surrounding area. I have ordered some from Jewsons Builders merchants in Portree.
The wildlife has started to arrive already. Small flies are flying across the surface. There are three black water beetles swimming around the bottom. They come to the surface for air which sticks to their abdomen like a small bubble. They then dive again, fascinating. I observed a pond skater moving around the surface this afternoon.
We are looking forward to the Spring to see what the pond attracts.
The pond looks amazing with the azaleas reflecting onto the surface. We are delighted with the result.
The pond is full of wildlife; large and small diving beetles, water boatmen, dragonfly larvae, tadpoles and pond skimmers. The local songbirds frequently bathe or drink the water. Two House martins dipped and took a drink in mid flight.
we purchased native fresh water plants for the pond kingcups, bogbean and ranunculus flammula (like small buttercups) which, have successfully flowered. We planted native species around the pond too; foxgloves, meadowsweet, flag iris, water avens, lady’s mantle and two types of reeds. We also planted many pollinator friendly plants.
Today when I went to skim fallen leaves off the surface I saw an unusual insect resting on the reeds. It looked like a bee but, had antennae like a moth. I did some research and discovered that it is a narrow-bordered bee hawk-moth which, are on the endangered list in the UK. They feed on bugle flowers, marsh thistles and lousewort. They fly during the day and like undisturbed damp grassland.