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Water meadow gardening

killi69

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Thank you so much Ady. I do spend many hours most days out there. For ages now, it has felt the garden is 95% ready but the final 5% is never ending. I have oiled the curved decking pathway and the decking over the large pond at the back. Still need to do the decking near the house and the board walks. Still have about 100 plants or so to go in, so that is not too bad. And maybe around 20-30 pond baskets and a few tubs with Scirpus needing to be planted up.

I have gone all out on this project but can you believe that I do not even have any garden furniture to sit down in and relax? It has been hard work but I love it really. It is an amazing view when working from home and often I stroll through the garden when on a work call, pulling out pond weed or watching dragon flies chase each other or whatever. Every day, there are times when I look at the garden, get excited and just can't believe it. I am very grateful🙏

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Incredibly jealous that you have that view while you work! I've got a long way to go before catching up with you. This is the pond we inherited with our recent house move. Still love sitting by it watching the dragonflies, even if it is a 1980s fibreglass eyesore with cemented crazy paving stones.
 

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killi69

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Incredibly jealous that you have that view while you work! I've got a long way to go before catching up with you. This is the pond we inherited with our recent house move. Still love sitting by it watching the dragonflies, even if it is a 1980s fibreglass eyesore with cemented crazy paving stones.
Thank you Natalie! I agree with you. Whatever the surroundings, the inside of any pond can be just as fascinating. Before I had my own space to build these ponds, I made do with large plastic tubs as mini ponds and still spent many hours each week working on them and enjoying the nature within and wildlife they attracted.

No garden is ever 100%, but this is a work of art man :) You can be proud!
Thank you so much Wolf! I remember how enthusiastic and engaged you were with my gardening plans at the start of this journal, so I really appreciate this :)

I have been away for just over a week and was amazed at the growth within that time. I hope to come back with some more updates soon.
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killi69

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This is awesome, I bet a 10 minuet stroll out there soon turns into an hour.

10/10 for execution, much much better than a traditional lawn and paving...
Thank you so much J-Bonham👍🏼👍🏼 It is such a blessing to literally have this on my doorstep but you are so right, that happens to me all the time - taking just a quick look at something ending up lasting so much longer!

I do not miss the lawn. The stupid thing is though that after going all out to create this garden, I still do not even own any garden furniture 🤣. So far, the garden has not been a place for me to sit down and relax in but to be honest, I am not even sure if I will ever be that person. Its all about engaging with the garden which makes being out there so appealling. But getting some comfy chairs is definately a priority for next year!

Apologies for the lack of updates but your post has prompted me to respond. It has been a great first year for the water garden. I finished oiling all of the decking, although the board walks still need treating. I also spent many days planting up dozens of pond baskets as I still had quite a few crates of marginal plants in 9cm pots tucked away inside the ponds at the back so I could pioritise perennials in pots which desperately needed to go in as they were getting pot-bound. As a very busy summer has come to an end and my drive at the front of the house is almost clear of plants waiting to go in, I finally feel I am getting on top of things.

I will leave just a few photographs for now as a way of an update. They were all taken in August. I will aim to come back soon with some more.

Front pond:
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Middle ponds:
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Back ponds:
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killi69

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I came across something interesting growing in the pond at the back.
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I was going to ask for an ID on here but by co-incidence I just saw someone on Facebook posting the same question with a very similar looking plant. It appears that this is not a plant but an algae (!) called Chara. I found an old post from Darrel from back in 2010 with a bit more information:

... Charophyte (Chara or Nitella spp.) [...] are highly modified green algae that resemble higher plants. They are also called "Stoneworts", as the stems are stiff & calcified (a bit like the marine red algae Corallina). They are well known for having extremely large cells.

They are pretty difficult to I.D to species level, even in the UK. If you find them in the wild it almost indicates good water quality as they are some of the first plants to be lost with increasing eutrophication.
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http://www.snh.org.uk/publications/on-line/naturallyscottish/stoneworts/important.asp

cheers Darrel

This algae (difficult to call it algae and not say plant:)) seems to originate from a basket containing Potamogeton crispus. Would it be evergreen/ last through winter, do you think? I read somewhere just now that Chara has some form of a root-like structure to hold itself in the substrate. I also wonder whether there will be a competitive thing going on between the Chara and Potamogeton. I am tempted to remove the Potamogeton to maximise its chances.

It really looks so plant like. It would be nice if I could keep it going. Tempting to think that it had nodes and you could take a cutting by pinching a bit off.

It is quite good looking and certainly one of the most handsome form of algae I have seen. Funny enough, I was blessed once before with the surprise appearance of a good-looking algae called Caloglossa which I tied to bog wood in my planted tank like a red looking moss (can be seen among pics in this old post).

Darrel, or anyone else, do you know any more?
 
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Tyko_N

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This algae (difficult to call it algae and not say plant:)) seems to originate from a basket containing Potamogeton crispus. Would it be evergreen/ last through winter, do you think? I read somewhere just now that Chara has some form of a root-like structure to hold itself in the substrate. I also wonder whether there will be a competitive thing going on between the Chara and Potamogeton. I am tempted to remove the Potamogeton to maximise its chances.
I have seen some Chara sp. when out snorkeling here in Sweden, so there are at least some (very) hardy species. The ones I saw were in rather swift water and with plenty of plants in the vicinity, but always close to the surface and exposed to good light so you might want to make sure that it doesn't get overgrown. Good luck growing it, and please tell us if you succeed, I for one would love to try some myself.

(Also: This has to be one of my favorite journals, a dream project over here and so well documented!)
 

killi69

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Hi Tyko, thank you so much for kind words and sharing your experiences of witnessing Chara growing in wild (snorkeling in Sweden sounds great!). I will try to keep it from getting overgrown, as you suggest. Today I had another look and cleared some Elodea out of the way. The Chara is actually not growing in a pond basket but in a washing up bowl containing a young Nuphar lutea. Not that it makes much difference but if it was in a basket I would have been able to move it around easier to a position where there were no other plants nearby. I will just have to keep an eye on it and fingers crossed I will still have it in the spring!
 

Tyko_N

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Sharing space with the Nuphar might actually be quite a good spot for the Chara provided it still gets enough light, I have often seen them growing close to each other in the wild. Is the soil for the Nuphar capped by gravel as well by any chance? Although I have found them on silt bottoms they seem to prefer a coarser substrate, maybe it's easier to attach to, I don't know. They do have quite a nice growth habit when happy though, here is one patch sporulating at the end of summer this year (not going back in the water now, Swedish snorkeling is chilly enough at the best of times ;) ):
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mort

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Can you help me out please? I know the plant on the left with the thin willow like foliage (picture attached in your quote) but just can't remember what it is. I've been trying to think of it for the last couple of days but it hasn't come to me. I recommended to a friend for growing round their pond but she lost the name and I've just gone blank.
 

killi69

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Hi Mort. It is Helianthus salicifolius, a perennial sunflower. I agree with you, it looks great near a pond. It does tend to topple over a bit this time of the year when it is in flower but that can add to the drama and add to the wild look it creates (or it disappears or blocks pathways which can be annoying)
 

mort

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Thanks Killi, now you say that it's obvious what it is but funnily enough it's not what I was thinking of. I don't know if I'm dreaming up new species again but I'm sure I saw something that was very similar in the unusual distinct look, at a local water garden. I may be remembering wrong which is more than likely tbh.
I've got a mass of those willow leaf sunflowers in my brothers garden and they are so dense and fallen over that they don't look anything like as nice as yours. I might have to thin them out a ton and dot them around the pond. They look alot nicer dotted around rather than massive clumps like ours have grown into. We don't really get to see the lovely foliage just a wall of green.

So thanks for the happy accident. It will be far easier to move some of the sunflowers than to establish something I'd have to by.
 

killi69

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Sharing space with the Nuphar might actually be quite a good spot for the Chara provided it still gets enough light, I have often seen them growing close to each other in the wild. Is the soil for the Nuphar capped by gravel as well by any chance? Although I have found them on silt bottoms they seem to prefer a coarser substrate, maybe it's easier to attach to, I don't know. They do have quite a nice growth habit when happy though, here is one patch sporulating at the end of summer this year (not going back in the water now, Swedish snorkeling is chilly enough at the best of times ;) ):
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I found found an interesting factsheet about Stonewort (Chara) by the Freshwater Habitats Trust. It backs up what you said about them preferring mineral substrates like sand, gravel or clay dislike silt. I am going to try taking a cutting and put it in some sand and see what happens.

I've got a mass of those willow leaf sunflowers in my brothers garden and they are so dense and fallen over that they don't look anything like as nice as yours. I might have to thin them out a ton and dot them around the pond. They look alot nicer dotted around rather than massive clumps like ours have grown into. We don't really get to see the lovely foliage just a wall of green.
Great to have so much stock! There is another Helianthus, H. orgyalis, which looks very similar, albeit with leaves which are a bit coarser but which remains upright.

The flopping habit H. salicifolius does have its charm. It remains upright for most of the season but starts leaning over as it flowers;
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I was not planning for yellow to be part of the colour scheme but actually it works really well this time of the year to compliment the yellowing Typha reedmace.
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