P urple loosestrife
O rgy of frogs
It’s amazing when you introduce water to the garden, the wildlife it attracts.
We moved to West Cork 15 years ago to a plot of 6 acres, some for flowers, some for vegetables and fruit, some for managed wilderness.
The field at the back of the house was flooded, and rushy and we hoped it might hold water for a large pond. Our friend Liam came with his digger and blocked the land drain that was feeding it, and set to taking out the mud. There are ridges of rocks, so it is not deep and there are 2 islands of rock.
There was a great moment when he drove out, unblocked the dam and it filled to the perfectly placed overflow.
The mud stayed on the sides for a year until it could be landscaped around the edge, leaving a patch of poor land for the wildflower area.
Now, the lilies, pink, yellow and white, and arrowhead with its distinctive leaves and small white flowers have naturalised and are perfect cover for frogs , newts,dragonflies, and damsel flies.
We created a shingle garden with railway sleepers and grasses at the Western end and 2 seats where you can watch the goings on. Always the dragonflies dip and dance , swallows skim over, the wagtails hop on the lily leaves, looking for larvae, water boatmen skim the surface and newts regularly rise up for a breath.
In early spring you hear the frogs before you see them. I go down with my camera and there is sudden silence. There are hundreds of frogs returning year after year to spawn. Now there are babies about a centimetre long in the long grass around the edge.
We have mown a path around the pond, leaving a good 2 feet of natural growth. There are amazing purple irises, the yellow flag iris, purple loosestrife, meadowsweet, water forget me nots and marsh marigolds, ragged robin and burnets – so rich and diverse.
The problem with a natural , unlined pond is that the weeds take over. First we had the common pond weed, so invasive that we could no longer see the water. Then the feathery milfoil took over . Now we have to get Liam back with the digger to dredge the weed every year. I hate the damage it does to the habitat, but it soon recovers. Klaus has been in with waders and buckets getting rid of the last straggly bits. It makes great mulch on the fruit bushes, and eventually will be lovely compost.
In the evening sitting on our deck upstairs, we can see the sunset sky reflected off the water and watch the heron hunting, sometimes the mallards are there chatting, and it all makes us really appreciate the results of our efforts and happy to live in this beautiful place.
The pond features in a couple of my originals - and the frogs! There will be more, as it is so inspiring.