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Water meadow gardening

LondonDragon

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WOW that is impressive! That is a lot of plants indeed but looking great already, you can charge the neighbours a fee afterwards when its done if they want to see it :p (we need to do a UKAPS tour of it next summer ;) )
Look forward to seeing more updates on this one :)
 

zozo

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Really amazing!! :clap: Are the ponds connected in one way or another?
I bought a few Marsh ferns, Thelypteris palustris, which I hope will grow nicely in the water.

It will and they grow quite large easily 50cm and propagate via runners like mad. It's a wonderful plant. They grow inside and outside the water. They even can grow epiphytic on wood on the water surface and above. The rhizome is quite a bushy root wig hanging in the water. You can cut off the creeping runners to replant if you like more in different locations.

All tho they are not evergreen, old-growth dies off in the winter but it comes back twice the size year after. If it gets really big you want to cut away dead material after the fall not to organically load the water too much.

In my garden, it also grows epiphytic to a wooden tub with a lily. Still small new growth this time of year.
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killi69

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Thank you Tim, Shangman and Paolo. UKAPS members most welcome! I would be more than happy to hosts any visits.

In my garden, it also grows epiphytic to a wooden tub with a lily. Still small new growth this time of year.
Marcel, that looks great! Thanks for all that information. Will definitely try to grow marsh fern on the tree stump. Growing ferns on wood... did not think I would be doing that again after getting rid of my tank... :thumbup:
 

killi69

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Really amazing!! :clap: Are the ponds connected in one way or another?
Thanks Marcel! It looks like the decking walkways go over the ponds but it was far easier to just construct separate ponds. There are six in total. One advantage is that this does help keep the fish separate. Three ponds contain fish. Just have to remember not to move plants from one pond to another and transfer fish eggs by accident!
 
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zozo

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Thanks Marcel! It looks like the decking walkways go over the ponds but it was far easier to just construct separate ponds. There are five in total. One advantage is that this does help keep the fish separate. Three ponds contain fish. Just have to remember not to move plants from one pond to another and transfer fish eggs by accident!

If you would like to connect a few, you could use water bridges... :) With for example 110mm or 125mm PVC tubing and 45° knees. Then both ends should be underwater, then glue a clamp saddle T with a ball valve to it corresponding with a water vacuum cleaner hose diameter to be connected. Or a smaller metric thread hose connector in a hole with taped thread and an adapter for the vacuum cleaner. Then suck out all air and it vacuums the tube, it fills with water, close the valve when filled and it stays filled as long as the ends are underwater. Covering the tube with a coconut fiber sheet you can also grow plants and ort mosses to it, looking like a fallen tree trunk. Open the valve and the tube will empty and it can be taken away again, or at least be empty which would be needed in the wintertime because if it freezes the PVC will crack. :cool::p:D

Fish and other critters will happily use the bridges to travel back and forth.

Spreading fish eggs from pond to pond, you might get a surprise, birds, and frogs, maybe even hedgehogs etc. will do that for you. :eek: :) Fish eggs are very sticky, stick to paws, etc travel around and let go again in the water somewhere else... Daphnia etc. travels around in the same fashion with other bugs.
 
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killi69

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If you would like to connect a few, you could use water bridges...
I might try that, especially where I extended the big pond at the back. The board walk there hides where both ponds meet. As the extension is a lot smaller than the large pond, and will have a far higher proportion of reeds and marginal plants growing in there, it might be possible that water levels in the summer drop more than in the pond the other side of the board walk and become noticeable. There is a small gap between the planks and the tops of the pond edging to fit a tube/ a few tubes. More like 2cm diameter max but they should still do the trick. Thanks for the tip!
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zozo

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Now you mention dropping water levels I forgot to mention it, I thought it's obvious physics, but it might not be. Or it is and that's why you mention water levels. You got me doubting a bit now... :) Connecting via a water bridge functions also with the law of communicating vessels. Meaning it keeps both water bodies at the same level as if it was one.

Could be problematic if the whole project is on a sloop... But if it is level ground, then both ponds will always level out the water surface equally over the tube. You could actually pump water from one pond to the other, and the water flows back over the bridge to the originating pond.
 

killi69

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Now you mention dropping water levels I forgot to mention it, I thought it's obvious physics, but it might not be. Or it is and that's why you mention water levels. You got me doubting a bit now... :) Connecting via a water bridge functions also with the law of communicating vessels. Meaning it keeps both water bodies at the same level as if it was one.

Could be problematic if the whole project is on a sloop... But if it is level ground, then both ponds will always level out the water surface equally over the tube. You could actually pump water from one pond to the other, and the water flows back over the bridge to the originating pond.
All the pond edges are at the same level, except for the pond bordering the patio, which is a bit lower. As I mentioned, it could be a good way to make sure water levels at either side of walkways remain at the same level, to keep up the illusion the wooden paths are built over larger stretches of water.
 

mort

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I went through a really bad algae stage this year because I stripped out to many plants over winter. It looked exactly the same as yours did and although I knew that once the plants got going it would remedy itself, I was worried about the tadpoles getting trapped in it. My pond is more mature than yours and I'm not sure if that means it's more balanced, or bounces back quicker, but it's all completely algae free now. I'm not sure if it's because it is plumbed in to my garage roof, so has had hundreds of liters of rainwater flushed through it over the last two months, or if it's because I added an air pump to circulate the water.
I don't know the practicalities of even attempting the same for you but maybe you could trial it in an easily accessible pond. My thinking was that water movement would open up the waters surface and keep it algae free but not at the cost of any tadpoles or other life (they easily get sucked into even tiny pumps). I did it for about 20 quid and it seems to have worked really well. I don't know if the algae was breaking up anyway but with the air it seemed to thin to a point where it was easy to remove without bringing anything with it.

I must say though that this is an amazing project on a scale that non of us would even dare contemplate. I'd love something even a small fraction of what you have achieved and it's a real credit to your vision that we all love it so much.
 

killi69

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I'm not sure if it's because it is plumbed in to my garage roof, so has had hundreds of liters of rainwater flushed through it over the last two months, or if it's because I added an air pump to circulate the water.
Very interesting Mort! Do you have any pictures? I am trying to imagine how an air pump can create enough movement across a pond.

This evening I cleared thread algae from the pond next to the patio and the middle pond (with a rake). I removed algae about two weeks ago, so this was more about staying on top of things and removing all the floating Elodea this time. Last time I thought I better remove the floating mess of algae covered plants gradually in case I shocked the pond system by removing too many plants at once, even if they were entangled with algae. One of the smaller ponds has tadpoles in it, like yours, and I am also very wary of not wanting to destroy tadpoles when pulling out the algae.
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I understand that tread algae is a problem especially during early spring, before oxygenating plants really start growing and that later on the algae often recedes as the oxygenators kick in. I have heard a few people talk about plants in general being four weeks behind because of the weather (eg tulips still flowering this late/ plants from nurseries normally available by now being delayed). I was wondering if the same might apply to our oxygenators and therefore perhaps the thread algae are having more of an advantage this year?

Your feedback today has given me some thoughts. Before the rain fall over the last couple few weeks, the water levels in the ponds had dropped quite a bit. I know it had not rained for long time but neither has it been very warm. The picture below was taken at the end of April. I was thinking about what might happen when the weather does really warm up. Topping up these ponds will take all day, will be expensive and of course not very environmentally friendly. So not really sustainable but the ponds look a lot less attractive when the sides are exposed like this.
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So what you were saying about the water flow from your garage roof being connected to your pond made me think - and also Zozo's earlier suggestion of linking a number of my ponds... Perhaps there is a real benefit here to link one of the drain pipes from my house to flow into the middle pond and connect this pond with the ones at the back with tubes in the way you suggested🤔 This would really make the most of any rainfall during the warmer months. All the selected plants for the garden are moisture loving. Nigel Dunnett, the Sheffield garden designer I mentioned previously in this journal, has done the same with his front garden, although he does live on a slope, so he has more like swales, dips through which the water can flow on the way down his garden. Not sure what the impact would be of the water from my roof flowing over the combined surfaces of my ponds? Would it be spread out enough to dissipate over a wide enough surface? Perhaps in the winter better to just re-connect the flow from the roof back to the drain? Such an exciting idea... Maybe I should stop dreaming here, enough radical change for one year! Something to consider though...

I must say though that this is an amazing project on a scale that non of us would even dare contemplate. I'd love something even a small fraction of what you have achieved and it's a real credit to your vision that we all love it so much.
Really appreciate your feedback Mort. Most days, there are times when I feel really excited and fortunate to experience what is unfolding. There have also been many times over the last few weeks when I looked at the garden and felt my energy levels drop before I even stepped outside. Hopefully the planting is the final hurdle - so why am I even talking about a rain garden?!! Doing this journal, and sharing with people who have a similar passion, does help me reflect so thank you all for making me feel a bit sane again.
 
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Tim Harrison

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I have heard a few people talk about plants in general being four weeks behind because of the weather
That's my feeling as well.
Perhaps there is a real benefit here to link one of the drain pipes from my house to flow into the middle pond and connect this pond with the ones at the back
It's probably what I'd do. Not only will the water budget be affected by evaporation, but also transpiration from marginals etc.
Doing this journal, and sharing with people who have a similar passion, does help me reflect so thank you all for making me feel a bit sane again.
We're so glad you did, it's a remarkable project. And anyway, sanity is overrated...;)
 

shangman

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I think the final hurdle is living with it and managing it over the years! As with all projects things will change and develop and need new interventions, even with the best planning. And really, it seems like you've done the best planning and executing possible!! Think about the rain and water management once the planting is done (Planting on a big scale is EXHAUSTING, I also have experienced 😂) and you have had a rest so you can properly reflect and appreciate the beautiful garden you have. We've enjoyed the journey immensely from afar!

Looking forward to that visit 😍
 

mort

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I think that most of your problems are because the ponds are still new. As they mature over the next couple of years I would wager you get very few problems with algae unless you have to really clear a lot of the plants. I think my problem isn't so much the weather, although lots of bright but cold weather doesn't help, but because I took to many plants out.

I have the air just bubbling out of two air lines. I was going to put a sponge and airstone on it but it basically just bubbles to the surface and because the bubbles are large they push a decent sized area of the pond clear. It's hard to get a picture because luckily there isn't any algae in there now and it just looks like bubbles. Tbh I would say the rainwater is probably what did the biggest reduction of algae but the air certainly helps when it was algae covered.

It was zozo who's the water bridge expert. I've never used them myself but anything to help keep the ponds topped up is a great idea. I like the rainwater as it's natural and free and the way it works for me is half the garage goes straight to the pond and the other half goes to water butts that then overflow into the pond. I live in the driest county and really struggle for rainwater in the average summer, so the water butts come in handy. If you had to top up with tap water then letting the rain flush it out over winter might benefit, so if you did go the drainpipe bypass route I wouldn't necessarily turn it off in winter.
 

killi69

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I have been planting almost every day since my last update. While I still could, I dug in one final tub to add the collection (ten sunken tubs in total now) to maximise the amount of Phragmites I can grow outside of the ponds.
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The thread algae is still an issue but I have been weeding it our more regularly, making it easier to manage in the long run.
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Ragged Robbin added a nice splash of colour towards the end of May and during the first weeks of June. I grew these from seeds last year. They were originally meant to go right at the back of the garden, in front of my fruit trees behind the ponds. In the end, I could not order the purple loosestrife variety (Lythrum virgatum 'Dropmore Purple') in the quantities I needed, so I planted the Ragged Robin as placeholders instead. They look so great and add so much colour this time of the year, I must find some space to keep them in permanently.
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By the time the above pics were taken (early June), the main planting had been done. In the two weeks since then, I have been planting the edges of the garden, along each side. Each day I laid out and planted a different species which intermingled together will hopefully form a nice woodland edge planting underneath the conifers on the left and hedgerow on the right. These included ferns, grasses (Anemanthele lessoniana), Anemones, Thalictrums, Tellima, Alstilbe, Astrantia and Valerian. These had either been grown from seed or were dug out from holding beds I had created for existing stock plants.
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To protect the clay soil from drying out and cracking in the sun, I mulched the garden after planting. I am trying to make good use of the algae pads and plant material I pull from the ponds when cleaning and add these to the mulch in between the plants. These are the lighter bits and pieces you can see in the pic below.
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I was lucky that I finished the planting just before the rain started again last week and the ground became too wet to walk on or dig. Absolutely perfect timing and great for the plants which I think are growing taller by the day, both in the garden and inside the ponds. It was great to see my ponds fill up again to the rim. Although the speed at which this happened (10cm+ within 24 hours), was perhaps a bit too rapid and there was a bit of flooding going on at the back pond. No problem if it was water over flowing from the pond into the garden but I did notice the pond water had turned a bit darker, so it may have been water coming down the slope and into the pond. Hopefully this will not become too much of an issue in the future as the rainfall was exceptional and this is the first time I have noticed anything like this since the ponds were built last summer.
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There is so much going on and it's a shame I have not been able to record the progress in more detail. At least today, while it is pouring with rain, I can bring this journal up to date again. As the Ragged Robin finished flowering, Filipendula vulgaris has taken over the show, alongside Valeriana officinalis along the edges and right at the back.
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Over the last few days, I have turned my attention to the pond plants as I still have a few crates of marginal plants and oxygenators which need to be planted up properly. I will try to come back again soon with updates and pictures.

Picture taken around 8pm this eve;
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Tim Harrison

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Picture taken around 8pm this eve;
20210621_191626.jpg
Wow spectacular, you really have planted for instant impact, and already have created the illusion of one large continuous stretch of water and meadow. Now a sticky thread ;)
 

zozo

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I understand that tread algae is a problem especially during early spring

Yes, that slimy filamentous one definitively is, when the water warms up the bioload in the water column becomes active favoring this ancient grow form before the plants kick in. I see this in my own garden but also in some natural pools in my neighborhood. And then it disappears again as quickly as it came and then the plants start to grow. In fishless environments, it stays a tad longer. If well stocked with omnivorous fish it might not show up at all. At least I never see any in my goldfish tub, they likely eat it.

Last winter was a little disaster and this year all is indeed behind, the Irises and Eriophorum in my garden didn't flower at all and the Potentilla barely survived and only grew a few leaves. And these are usually the very first to grow and flower in the spring.
 
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