“I wish there was something I could do to help but I’m glad there isn’t” said Attila, watching me getting funky in the pond. Now is a good time to remind owners of water features that the facilities will over winter better if given some attention before the cold weather sets in. You really don’t want to be farting around with pumps, tubes and wiring when the whole lot is welded together with a thick layer of ice and your spouse’s idea of assistance is to make comments as outlined above.
Hedera helix (common ivy) flowers
I leave my fountain operating all the time; the non-stop circulation prevents the water from freezing, for which my two chubby koi carp are grateful, I’m certain. They are not brilliant conversationalists, unless I have consumed an excess of Beaujolais. I don’t feed them once the temperature drops and if they don’t bitch about that, I’m not expecting them to say anything. In order to curry favour further, I have just removed my warm coat, rolled up my sleeves and cleared out as much aquatic plant life as I can reach safely, without falling in. If greenery is left to rot, it puts nutrients into the pond which will encourage algae next year. I pull off the water lily leaves and cut down the marginals such as ferns, Iris and Zantedeschia (calla). I trawl along the bottom with a fine net, in order to remove sludge, gunge and grot, of which there is a surprising amount. I leave the swarf in a heap on the path for a day, so that the bugs can creep back home. If I’m lucky, Attila will step in it, which repays him for his rude remarks about my eau de pond cologne. When the tenants have retired, the refuse makes an excellent contribution to the compost heap.
Arum italicum ‘marmoratum’ (Italian arum)
When we built the pond, I chose to place it in a semi shaded corner. Attila did the digging without a word of complaint, notwithstanding a frost free deep area for hibernating fish. The adjacent brick wall was an ideal site for a fountain. Getting electricity through a shed window was easy and minimised the length of power cable, which I could cut with a spade, stab with a fork or chop with shears. I love to make my husband laugh but have no wish to listen to hysterical chortling as I run around with an incandescent hair do. Herons are attracted to suburban angling by the glint of reflected sunlight, so I thought that next door’s conifer would provide a little camouflage. This has proved to be a mistake, as the big bastard has taken my favourite fish despite my precautions and the tree dumps twigs and pine needles in astonishing quantities.
Helleborus argutifolius (Corsican hellebore)
I use a rake to skim off the duck weed and fallen leaves from the surface. I’m a martyr to blanket weed; I don’t like subjecting Akira and Takeshi to chemicals, as if anything is going to slow their progress to whale like proportions. I’ve tried bags of barley straw to retard the slimy green filaments but if it makes a difference, I can’t see it. I twirl a plastic moss rake in the fronds and lift it out; this is a job for a careful hand, since I have no wish to puncture the butyl liner. The form of a recurring nightmare is to stand watching the water gurgling away and then sloshing through the mud to rescue my finned fatties. They would have to go in the bath for the duration of repairs, as the shower has no plug and even if the draining board is clear, they won’t fit in the kitchen sink.