08 March, 2011

On Ungardening Pond 4

In May we walked together in hopeful optimism round our pond. By June you can see winter rain falling, and filling the pond, but, to our mounting despair, you can also see a tideline on the beach. He looks at me sadly and says we keep topping up, it’s winter, can’t be evaporation. There must be a leak!

June, with an exposed tideline on the beach
and winter rain


The Ungardener has had a long hard busy year battling with this pond. We, that’s the royal we, used the pump to half empty the pond. And find various cracks. And a fist-sized hole so big, that when it rained, water flowed UP into the pond. No wonder it leaked, in winter.

August - we have a hole

August, waterlilies in kennels, where they bloomed happily
The Ungardener hopefully doing repairs

September, hold your breath. Will the water hold …?

September - Aragon on the jetty, Rest and Be Thankful

No. End of October we accept. Have to drain the pond. Completely. Take all the plants out, put them in kennels for the duration – Apple Creek and two baby baths for the water lilies. Retrieve frogs, who are determined to go home, every time the rain leaves a few inches of water. Too shallow for the pump, so he shovels it out by the bucketful. Then there are the dragonfly larvae, those that are big enough to see, and rescue … Since we anyway have to start again, there’s this bit near the island that didn’t work. So he dug it out, and made the pond a little bigger. Des res with overhang, and crooks and nannies, for the frogs to shelter from M’sieur Chocolat!

November - the serious work begins

December - frogs des res

Once upon a time we dug a hole in the clay, lined it with chicken-wire and concrete. And painted on a layer of waterproofing. This time, when all else fails, we read the instructions. Two layers, with Bidim geotextile sandwiched in between. And then a third layer broom-brushed on top, to make sure. Killing work, exposed to the worst of the summer heat. No shade, and once he started the black absorbing and reflecting more heat. He, NOT we, got up,    v e r y    e a r l y.

January - high, hot summer

January still

February - lined with gravel and sea pebbles

The pond is about 50 square metres, about 20,000 litres when full. We used 16 x 20 litres of Dalven Products Waterblok, 66 metres of Bidim. And 24 bags of Atlantic Pebbles, so it looks appealing, and the Ungardener doesn't get stuck to his work. R7,000 rand later …

March - frog des res
Bird Island

March with the water rising slowly

Until at last in March, we can begin adding water. It is municipal, metered, treated, drinking-water at the end of a long hot summer. So we are adding about a thousand litres twice a week, and hoping, for rain. The plants are home again. When we breakfast at Rest and Be Thankful we have the music of frogs plopping up for their breakfast. As the autumn sun gains strength so the red, and blue, and yellow dragonflies take to the skies.  Our mixed flock of Cape and house sparrows, Cape and masked weavers, with the Lil Cuss are delighted to have beach parties again. The little wagtails have returned to their Bird Island and beachcombing. Later, when the pond is full, we will return to the plants and the animals who call Ungardening Pond home.


Disclaimer - this is not an advertorial. The Waterblok, Bidim and pebbles were paid by us in full.



Pictures by Jurg and Diana,
words by Diana of Elephant's Eye
- wildlife gardening in Porterville, 
near Cape Town in South Africa   
   
(If you mouse over brown text, it turns shriek pink. 
Those are my links)

27 comments:

  1. What a beautiful pond! Huge respect for the Undergardener - I bet the frogs birds and wasps consider him a God!

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  2. What a journey. Water gardening is quite a feat and takes mountains of endurance and patience. Probably why I've never had a water garden, but I sure do apreciate the efforts of others.

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  3. So interesting in so many ways. I hope the ungardener took many breaks for rest and relaxation--but all the hard work looks worth it. Happy frogs and birds--and humans. And plants.

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  4. Backbreaking work, especially in the summer, but at least you know it will bring infinitely more hours of joy. And I have some idea of what to do when I finally get hubby to start building my river bed.

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  5. That pond is stunning, and I can't imagine the amount of work you've put in. Thank you for sharing; you have affirmed the place a pond (though on a much smaller scale) holds on my wish list for the garden.

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  6. Teresa and Soren - even a bird bath, a large shallow saucer with an 'escape ladder', or a bubbler - looks and sounds inviting, draws wildlife and 'wild' humans.

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  7. I very much enjoyed reading the saga of your pond! It is very beautiful and worth all the work you (and Ungardener!) put into it. I really like that it looks completely natural. I have always wanted a pond...maybe someday, and I will remember to do it right!

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  8. What a beautiful balance - just natural/soft enough looking to seem like it "grew" there, just planned enough to work comfortably in a garden. I hope the Ungardener has taken some well-earned rest from his labors!

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  9. That's a huge job. I thought cleaning out our little pond was a lot of work, but it's nothing compared to the job there. It sure is beautiful!

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  10. Now that is what I call dedication. I would love something like that, but there is no way I'll attempt it myself... or could afford it. Well done on an awesome job. *giving the pond a jealous look over my shoulder*

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  11. Wow Diana, that is a big work!!! And all the photos are good insisting that the Ungardener is doing a great garden job. I 2nd Christine's comment that the citizens of the pond consider him a god. I love that kind of pond, however in our condition it will invite mosquitoes, and denque is dangerous in our area. So i just better content myself looking at yours, anyway i know how the frogs sound like. haha.

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  12. That is a stunning pond, it should be used as a guide for how to make a good wildlife habitat. I hope Ungardener feels it was worth the obviously back-breaking work.

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  13. Andrea - Cape Town is way south of malaria danger. But our mosquitoes have to battle dragonfly larvae in the water, frogs on land and above the water, then bats in the air. We have NO fish, this is a wildlife/frog pond.

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  14. Wow! You two did SO much work. What a job fixing that pond was!

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  15. What an amazing amount of work! You are truly dedicated. I don't think I would have had the determination to continue on. But your wildlife, and the frogs, will thank you every day for fixing it correctly.

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  16. Diana, your pond has caused you a great deal of work, but it looks well worth it! Beautiful space! And you went to such lengths to preserve those that live in it during renovations. Kudos!!

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  17. Diana, i'm here again to follow-up my comment. You mean the dragonfly larvae eat mosquito larvae? So that means we can culture that as biocontrol for mosquitoes! However, in my place there are no ponds, mosquitoes breed on some small unusual water containments, like plants and maybe coconut shells left in copra areas. You mean tilapia cannot be put in that pond? That is a sure way of mosquito biocontrol. I have a close friend in Durban, but maybe that is still a plane ride to your area.

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  18. What hard work, done with such care, and yielding such beautiful results! And a homecoming for the creatures who lived there. Wonderful.

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  19. Andrea - yes dragonfly larvae live for years in the water. And the choice is frogs or fish. Fish will devour most of the frogs. Sub-tropical Durban is north of us.

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  20. The pond is a beautiful feature. I can see why you devote so much labor into keeping it going. We have a smaller pond, maybe 20% the size of yours. Chasing down leaks as the concrete ages has been a major chore. There used to be small waterfalls and subsidiary little ponds feeding into our main one, but we've turned them into planters one by one as the leaks became impossible to control. Fortunately the main pond is still intact. I'd miss it very much if we had to give up on it.

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  21. Gorgeous pond and so much work but so worth it....our pond is not nearly as big but none the less a labor of love that my Pond Master wrestles with yearly...we do not have fish either...love the frogs, birds and other insects...what a peaceful haven you have created

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  22. Diana, we love your pond and Myra is full of admiration for the ungardener. Your pond is large and my imagination runs away with me I can see the dangerous wildlife that may appear in the very early hours of the morning. Well back to reality, our pond is more what you may call a puddle, however in this cooler climate the liner has lasted twenty years.

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  23. Oh no, I see what you mean regarding the lady of the lake. God I can be slow at times. Go easy on me!

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  24. What a fantastic looking pond. I don't envy you the work but I certainly envy you the pond and the surrounding area. Unfortunately we (the royal we) cannot have one without the other. Kudos to the Ungardener and to you as well. I am sure you rah-rah'd him every step of the way.

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  25. Respect to both! Makes my 'water fountain' pathetic as a water feature...but one day my Under gardener, released from the shackles of work, wants to play with water again. He is imagining fast flowing dartmoor streams with trout - but I will get him to check out your super human efforts before we commit to this. I fancy a 'natural swimming pool' - any thoughts or experience of that folks?

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  26. Chris - natural swimming pool? They invented that just before we left Switzerland. Using a reedbed to filter the water for swimming in. I think it is a wonderful compromise, if you swim.

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  27. Oh gosh, that looks like hard, hot work. My heart goes out to the ungardener. I know the huge feeling of satisfaction I get when I big project is done; I think I would be tempted to despair if I realized it all had to be done over. It is beautiful, and I'll keep my fingers crossed that there are no leaks this time. -Jean

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Photographs and Copyright

Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
His Panasonic Lumix FZ100 (info from Panasonic)
My Canon PowerShot A490 (info from Canon)

If I use your images or information, it will be clearly acknowledged with either a link to the website, or details of the book. If you use my images or words, I expect you to acknowledge them in turn.


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