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My First Pond

Syringa Roots

We wanted to make an environment to attract the birds so I decided to build a pond. We have a giant syringa in the bottom of the garden and so decided to build the pond at the base of this tree. I first heaped a mound of soil at the base of the tree with 2 small concrete wall panels on either side. The one side a bricks width in from the garden wall and on the other just in from the bay tree and the bottle brush bush that were already there. On the outside of the mound I started digging the holes for the ponds.

I first had to dig out the few alluvial roots and then get the holes to a depth to hold the ponds. This turned out to be a far harder task than I had anticipated and kept me busy for many weeks. The larger roots had to be cut off on either side of the aria I was digging. The smaller roots kept the soil bound together and made me work for every inch I dug.

Ponds

I found a plastic tub sold as a sand pit that was 25 cm deep and 70 cm in diameter. I bought three of these tubs and bolted them together so that the first overflowed into the second and it in turn overflowed into the third. Each tub had a bath plug mounted in the bottom and they were interconnected by lengths of 2" plastic hose. These plugs were normally in place in the top two ponds but the lowest ponds plug was normally left out. This meant that the first 2 tubs could be filled higher than the rest so that they could overflow into the next tub down. It also meant that each pond could be drained individually and cleaned separately without affecting life in the others.

Between the lowest pond and the garden wall a large hole was dug in the shape of a kidney with the lowest pond nestled in the hollow. This hole was almost twice as deep and twice the diameter of the ponds.

Syringa Roots

Further down the garden wall another hole was dug and a plastic bin about 50 cm high 20 cm square buried. This bin was about 4" higher than the lowest pond and had a float valve inside the top of it. This float valve was connected to the garden sprinkler system so that the pond would be refilled to the level of the float every time the sprinkler system was turned on. From the bottom of the bin a 2" plastic pipe led to the large hole. The drain pipe from all the ponds continues to the edge of the large hole as well.

This hole was lined with thick garden plastic higher than the ponds or the bin. Two small holes were made in the plastic liner and fastened into the ends of the two pipes so that water could flow freely from either system into the lined area and back again. The Plastic lid of the bin can be seen alongside the plank used to get the wheelbarrow over the plastic.

Ponds

A hole was dug under the property wall and an air brick placed between the wall and a small concrete slab. Two ordinary bricks were placed on either side of the air brick and the liner fed under them. This formed an overflow and a natural channel for the rain on the route it used to take to the drain on the other side of the wall before the pond was built. Another brick was used as an edge to the bog garden and the level of this one matched to just under the level of the lowest pond. This meant that the pond could not overflow and damage the garden around it even during a thunder storm.

Andries and I then sifted two wheel barrows of soil to get all the stones out and dumped it into the bottom of the plastic lined hole. That was followed by one wheelbarrow of sifted compost on top of it. This mixture was repeated several times until the hole was filled up. Syringa Roots Now water was added until the whole system was soaked and the ponds themselves full. This was then left for a week to make sure all the joints were water tight. Now that the bog garden was completed and linked into the pond all the levels could be monitored at once. When all the joints were sealed and the leaks stopped up the planting could begin.

I started with some Dwarf Papyrus (Cyperus Papyrus Nanus) in the front left of the kidney and some normal Papyrus (Cyperus Papyrus) behind them on the left. On the right at the back I later planted some bulrushes (Typha).

Now I placed a slab of slasto between the last pond and the bog garden. This held down the plastic liner edge and covered it up. It also gave an edge to the lowest pond as well as access to the heap of soil behind the ponds. It also gave access to the back of the ponds for planting there.

Ponds

This slasto I continued around the front of all the ponds at the level of the upper pond. It covered the edges of all the pond tubs. The piece of slasto between pond one and pond two could be lifted in order to give access to the pipes under the ponds. I later planted moss between the pieces of slasto but that did not thrive an only survived in patches.

As the slasto was level right around the ponds but the ponds were each lower than the up stream pond there was a progressively larger gap between the slasto and the top on the pond tub. This I planted with small plants that would cover the edge of the tubs and grow up around the edge of the slasto. I did the same around the back of the tubs between them and the heap of soil. In the triangular corner between the tubs I planted miniature bushes.
Syringa Roots I started going to the nursery each month and buying whatever was in flower at that time. I hoped to have a rockery that was always in flower. I put in a piece of slate I hollowed out on top into the heap of soil to make a small waterfall into the first tub. We then went out to the place they were building a road through a limestone ridge and collected some beautiful rocks which we put strategically over the mound of soil. They also held down small channels which were hidden between the plants to channel the water towards the waterfall. The sides of the mound by the bottle brush were planted with daisies of different colours. A pipe was fed from the bin around the back of the pond and up to the top of the mound of soil. This was to be for a small fountain on top of the mound driven from the bin.

The problems I found were that the syringa was a very messy tree and filled the ponds up in autumn with berries. In the winter it was sticks and leaves and in spring the little white flowers. I also found the soil from the mound was getting washed into the ponds so I built a small wall of sticks between the back of the ponds and the mound to prevent this. I then planted plants along the top of the wall of sticks to help hold the soil in place. Lastly that my water spaniel loved the ponds did not matter but his pleasure at sleeping on the Dwarf Papyrus did.

Pond Complete

and then came Bombela.