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Water meadow gardening

mort

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It's interesting how far ahead your ragid robbin and filipendula are ahead of my local broad. The rr is still flowering but reaching its end and the filipendula is barely knee high at the moment.

It is really amazing what you have done, it's so well executed and looks stunning already.
 

killi69

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Wow, what an honour, thank you🙏. I hope to keep the updates coming and share my learning as the project progresses.
Wow spectacular, you really have planted for instant impact, and already have created the illusion of one large continuous stretch of water and meadow.
Thank you Tim. I did order a lot of plants but it actually worked out far more economical to do a large order on wholesale prices. I still have to plant into pond baskets a range of species which are already in the garden, but I held back a number to place in the ponds to further help connect the water and land. These are Juncus effesus, Acorus gramineus, Carex elata and Schizostylis coccinea. Plus I still need to plant Persicaria affinis bisorta next to where P. amphibia grows in water.

What an awesome project and inspiring thread. Keep up the good work!
Thanks Jeff!!

It's interesting how far ahead your ragid robbin and filipendula are ahead of my local broad. The rr is still flowering but reaching its end and the filipendula is barely knee high at the moment.

It is really amazing what you have done, it's so well executed and looks stunning already.
That must look lovely. Maybe because my plants were only recently planted, they heated up faster while in pots which might have spurred them on to flower faster than if they were already growing in the soil? Thanks for the feedback, Mort.

It just looks incredible.
I'd fairly ruthlessly dead-head it, it is the most incredible self-seeder.
Cheers Darrel👍
Thanks for the advice, I will deadhead the Valerian after flowering then! I do love this plant and it really adds a wild touch:
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A supreme amount of effort, it makes setting up an aquarium looks like child’s play! It really is a stunning creation!
Thanks Wooki! A bit more physical but otherwise so similar. One of my favourite parts is the corner where the water meets shade planting near the conifers. Marsh ferns growing in the water with terrestrial ferns on the other side. This reminds me so much of an aquascape. I am sure many of you feel the same when you see a large root structure in the woods or somewhere.
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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.
Let's hope the plants will start to grow at last to help the thread algae disappear. Most aquatic plants in the ponds are not yet growing. One plant which does grow well and from early in the season is Potamogeton crispus. It has long strands with leaves touching the surface and a favourite place for damselflies to lay their eggs. I must propagate these so I can have more of them across my ponds to hopefully help stave off the thread algae next spring.
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Some ponds only have Elodea and giant Vallisneria as oxygenating plants. Across the ponds, the Vallis still need to take off, despite having had fertiliser tabs added two months ago. Below is a pic of the middle pond. None of the plants in the middle pond seem to be doing well. Hopefully, it is just because it is early in the season. Over the last couple of days, I have started potting up Potamogeton lucens and added a few of those to the middle pond:
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For the P. lucens I use clay topsoil as the substrate, capped with some sand.
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The Elodea definitely does better with some feed. Below, in the large pond at the back, you can see on the left good strong growth while on the right they are much weaker and smaller. A couple of months ago, I already noticed the Elodea growing stronger in the tub with Nuphar lutea which has slow release fertiliser tabs in it. I then cut back the Elodea in these tubs and replanted the tops in a couple of new baskets with fertiliser tabs added. These are the baskets you can see on the left below (and the Elodea in the Nupar tub has also regrown with vigour). I think I am going to cut back the Elodea baskets and add fertiliser tabs to all of them.
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Interesting that Water Soldier, Stratiotes aloides, seems to be doing better in some ponds than others. In one pond (1st pic below) there is a large group of them still fully submerged but intact. In another pond (2nd pic), they are almost ready to submerge. In the middle pond, the Stratiotes have almost completely disintegrated and there is hardly anything left of them.
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Nuphar lutea is doing well. I have five tubs (washing up bowls) of them in total and they have been growing slowly but steadily over the last two months.
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zozo

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That wood looks really nice!.. Is that the Potentilla I see there?

I've also had some issues with P. crispus and the P. perfoliatus i never was very successful with growing them both. They do not like Ph above 8, it seems to slow them down, and while the light increases they will form limescale on their leaves making it even harder on them. That's something you might want to check on a sunny day in the afternoon. Then the pH will be at its highest, if it goes above 8 then those 2 Potamogetons are not the best choice. The pH in my tubs is standard pH8.5.

The floating P. natans is very easy to grow for me and also the South American P. gayi grows unstoppable and like mad in my garden. Already have it for 7 years and till now it even survived -12°C. It originates from Argentina I guess it also grows there in the deep south antarctic regions.
 

killi69

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That wood looks really nice!.. Is that the Potentilla I see there?
Yes, indeed, that is Potentilla palustris. Thank you for introducing me to this plant! It is starting to take off with runners climbing over the wood and making their way onto land, which is really great:
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I have it growing in several ponds.
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I've also had some issues with P. crispus and the P. perfoliatus i never was very successful with growing them both. They do not like Ph above 8, it seems to slow them down, and while the light increases they will form limescale on their leaves making it even harder on them. That's something you might want to check on a sunny day in the afternoon. Then the pH will be at its highest, if it goes above 8 then those 2 Potamogetons are not the best choice. The pH in my tubs is standard pH8.5.
I have limescale on the leaves of both Potamogetons also, as you can see from the pics below. I used to have P. lucens in some of my tubs and would just rub the leaves every now and the limescale would come off easily. They survived in my tubs but never really grew into large clumps. Hopefully, now they are planted in bigger baskets with fertiliser tabs added they will do better in the ponds.
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I must really do a pH measurement. I filled the ponds with tap water which is quite hard over here. Although rain water would have lowered the pH by diluting the water when the ponds overflow during heavy rain, I would guess that overall the water will still be hard rather than soft. The Fundulus and Aphanius fish in two of my ponds would also prefer harder water. Does anyone know a good way to harden the water, if necessary? I know in Holland a product called Mearl is used for this but I do not think that is available over here.

The floating P. natans is very easy to grow for me and also the South American P. gayi grows unstoppable and like mad in my garden. Already have it for 7 years and till now it even survived -12°C. It originates from Argentina I guess it also grows there in the deep south antarctic regions.
Really, P. gayi is hardy?!! Amazing. I used to grow gayi in my planted tank. Would love to give it a go in my pond then. Another interesting recommendation, cheers Zozo! I would worry a bit though about how brittle gayi is as I can imagine loosing strands whenever they get caught up in threaded algae.

I took some Potamogeton natans cuttings last year and they have taken hold:
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zozo

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Looking really good the Potentilla...
Really, P. gayi is hardy?!! Amazing.

Obviously, it is, also to my surprise... I did put it about 7 years ago in the garden and it's still there. In a wooden tub now and last year it was -12°C for about 10 days and P. Gayi is still in there doing great. Pic bellow is this afternoon.
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Put it in a shallow sunny and warm spot and it gets dark red and grows like mad and very rampant, sticking flowers out... I never saw any algae in it, not once.
 

mort

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Can I just ask you guys about the potentilla. When I walk along the dykes at my local broad there is a plant that I always catch out of the corner of my eye, it looks like the leaf shape of the potentilla but it's leaves look very silvery (whether thats new growth or the fact its always sunny when i go because its where my dog goes swimming). I've never got close to have a decent look as it's always just a few leaves sticking out from the grassy banks. I guess I've just subconsciously thought it was a buttercup and moved on but now I'm wondering if it could be something arguably nicer.
 

zozo

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Can I just ask you guys about the potentilla.

I never noticed or don't know what you mean with silvery... :) But Marsh Cinquefoil is a rather easy plant to determine plant. It actually should already be flowering, with a deep red purplish star-shaped flower. The centre of the flowers bears fruit looking like a strawberry also the leaves resemble strawberry very much. That's why our comen name for it is Water Strawberry. But it's a Rosacea shrub and it grows long wooden stems when mature. :)

PotentillaPalustris.jpg
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
When I walk along the dykes at my local broad there is a plant that I always catch out of the corner of my eye, it looks like the leaf shape of the potentilla but it's leaves look very silvery
Potentilla anserina, unsurprisingly known as "Silverweed".

cheers Darrel
 

mort

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Hi all,

Potentilla anserina, unsurprisingly known as "Silverweed".

cheers Darrel

That's the one thanks. Doesn't look much like potentilla when you look closely but still I'm normally being pulled at lightspeed by the dog, desperate for her swim.
 

LondonDragon

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WOW this project is just stunning, love the flow down the garden, looks like a giant pond when it is not, this is going to look so amazing after a couple of years, you should really be proud of what you have achieved so far, epic project and thanks for sharing it with us :)
 

killi69

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My main focus over the last couple of weeks has been catching up with the pond plants which have been sitting in crates in the ponds waiting to be planted up. The ones I had already planted are establishing themselves and as more are going in, the marginal plants are really coming into play.
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The water dropworts (Oenanthe), planted a number of weeks ago, are taking off and sending out runners. I can see they will be taking over if I am not careful. O. aquatica (above) are flowering.

Below are large tubs planted with Schoenoplectus (Scirpus) albescens. This variant has a thin yellow stripe running along its leaf, giving the whole plant a bright appearance. Planted right at the back where the pond(s) end, I think they will help accentuate the depth of waterway running through the garden, draw attention to the board walk in front of them and, hopefully, together with Oenanthe fistulosum and Menyanthes trifoliata also help disguise the exposed edge of the pond extension (second pic below)

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I planted the remaining Butomus umbellatus last week (first pic below). Amazing to see them placed next to the ones I planted about four weeks ago (second pic). They are dwarfed compared to the more established plants, which are already sending out purple flower stems (third pic). I planted them in heavy clay topsoil (topped with sand), which they clearly seem to like.
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As a side note, as mentioned in an earlier post, I am going to try to create submersed versions of Nuphar lutea by removing any floating leaves which appear. A couple of days ago I removed the first floating leaf;
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I finally planted the remaining tubs which I had sunk in along the right flank of the water. These will contain various Typha species (all in clay topsoil). The one below has Typha laxmannii (will grow to around 150cm max)
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Near the decking in front of the house, at the far end, almost at the edge of the garden, I had sunk in a tub which I planted with Typha augustifolia (max 150cm, far right second pic). It really helps create the impression of the water extending all the way to the end of the decking.
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I also used Typha to link the middle pond with the large pond at the back, this time Typha gracilis (max 90cm). Below you can see T. gracilis in the middle pond and in a tub in between the middle pond and the next pond. A further tub is sunk inside the large pond (can be seen in pics later on). Also in the picture below you can see Acorus gramineus variegatus growing in water and on land. As more and more layers of species are added, a stronger connection is being made between the two.
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An important plant in the arrangement is Juncus inflexus. Large drifts have already been planted in the zones which visually link one pond to another and together form a matrix for what visually might resemble low marsh type planting. I had kept aside a crate of them to be planted in baskets to go in the water. Like all the other marginals in crates, I had already got them accustomed to grow with their crown submerged before removing most of the compost from the pots they came in and planting them in John Innes No3 (some in clay topsoil, depending on species), capped with 1cm of rinsed sharp sand:
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Interesting how the Juncus plants growing in water are taller and more arched than the ones growing in the soil.
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Pictured above you can see how Typha gracilis (taller reed like, yellow/green leaves) links the middle and back ponds.

Another plant I have high hopes for, or rather a genus, to help blend land and water, is Persicaria. In pink flower below is P. affinis superba and in water next to it is P. amphibia whose flowers will be very similar.
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Late afternoon and evening are the best times to view the garden when sun is out and all the plants are back-lit beautifully. As you can see the garden is really filling out rapidly. The plant at most right of the pond below is Typha minima (60cm).
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killi69

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At the start of this journal, I shared this picture of a small preformed pond I dug in three years ago and said that I hoped the pond and planting around it would be a template for how the garden would look one day:
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The pond is still there, hidden between the flowering Lythrum in the picture below, on the right. You would not know it is there, the only give-aways are the vertical leaves of the Typha bulrushes growing in the pond;
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Quite exciting to see how the original planting is now blending in with the rest of the garden - and a bit daunting as well when looking at how big some of those original grasses (Molinia) have become.

Lythrum will become one of the most dominant plants in my ‘water meadow’ community. I planted drifts of Lythrum virgatum ‘Dropmore Purple’ at either side of the 'low bog planting' which runs across the ponds and also next to each of the sunken tubs containing Typha and Phragmites . I also planted up a number in baskets to go in the ponds, and stuck a few inside the tubs, so Lythrum will be key in making that connection with the waterside. Although not as tall yet as the mature ones pictured above, the new young additions are flowering and are already making an impact and, planted either side, are really helping to soften the pond margins:
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As you can see from the photos above and below, Butomus umbellatus has started to flower. I was quite surprised how tall they are. So beautiful...
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Just a very brief update from me this time. I hope to be back soon with some more.
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killi69

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Paradise! 🥰
Thanks Marcel. Right now, one of my favourite aspects is the Butomus growing alongside the Phragmites and Lythrum which does evoke memories of Dutch ditches and 'polder' landscape we both grew up around.

When can I move in?
That is a dream water garden come to life, When are you taking bookings for UKAPS gardens to be redone???
Thanks guys😆. I went all out and I do feel very lucky with the result so far. I had not expected year 1 after planting to look so good. I just hope I do not need to move house in the near future as not many people would want to take on a garden full of ponds. If I do, I promise I will list it on the UKAPS sales thread first.

In the meantime, if you are in the area and want to come round, let me know!
 
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Gill

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Apologies if already mentioned, but what stocking is in these ponds.
As me personally i would put in some Paradise fish, Medaka, WCMM, Danios, Sunfish etc as there are multiple ponds. You could have different fish in each one.
And Medaka, Paradise WCMM etc will winter fine in in the UK outside.
 
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