For several years the ponds, or rather the holes in the ground, have given me sleepless nights. They were dug when we were sorting out electricity and water and although I knew they were in the right place, they had to be lined and then joined by streams and I was concerned about levels and how it would all work.
Because I would rather grow (and buy) plants than most other activities, and I like planning ahead, I bought the waterlilies before the ponds were completed (illogical I know) and that gave me the impetus to get the lower, small, pond lined two years ago – see there was method in my madness.
The lilies did OK even though they were crowded, and they needed repotting before eight of them were moved to the big pond this spring. But at least it gave me a head start with the final planting.
Anyway, the big pond and streams were completed a month or so ago. The small pond was quickly found by pond skaters which seem to spend the night in surrounding plants that overhang the pond and appear to dash out when I approach, which seems odd. Perhaps I look like food – I certainly do to horse flies.
I was not aware of much else happening under the water though I had seen diving beetles. There are no frogs – I do not know of any nearby ponds so it may be a bit far for them to hop and find my ponds. But the big surprise was a dragonfly nymph that had crawled onto a lily leaf about a month ago. It seemed to have hatched within a few days and I found a second ’empty case’ when I had to untangle the lilies. It must have been living and feeding in the small pond over the two years which is the average time for the larvae to mature.
I am aware that I do not have many marginals planted yet, though I addressed that, to some extent, a month ago, but there is some submerged oxygenator. I want the big pond to be rather formal and although there are sloping ends where I will (and have) planted some marginals, including natives, marsh marigold and Veronica beccabunga, the two smaller ponds are less formal and probably more desirable for wildlife. They already have some water iris, bogbean and miniature reedmace – more will follow.
But the wildlife doesn’t know that the ponds are not ready and within days there were pondskaters and lots of whirlygig beetles in the big pond, the latter especially fascinating as they whizz around in seemingly chaotic patterns which, I am sure, make complete sense to them.
Swallows swoop down to drink from the ‘large’ expanse of water and lots of other bird species are drinking from the pond edges or splashing in the streams.
The swallows have brought up healthy families and although the youngsters are obviously able to look after themselves they sit in a row on the trellis and chatter loudly at their parents as they fly over or towards them. Although they fly around all day it is in the evening that they really show off, performing acrobatic airshows and dive-bombing the cat if she is out.
But the real excitement has been the arrival of two adult dragonflies. I think they are emperor dragonflies (Anax imperator) which is recorded from south Ireland, including Wexford. Males are supposed to be territorial, perhaps fending off other males from their favourite pond, but this one, which keeps buzzing round the pond has allowed a female to land on the veronica and lay eggs.
I know small things please little minds but I am hugely delighted to have such noble insects giving my pond their seal of approval.