06 October, 2009

On Ungardening Pond 1

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity

May 2016
RIP Rasta Pani

Rasta Pani in 2006 before we built the Porterville house
Rasta Pani in 2007 building Pani's Falls
(Pani is Sanskrit for hand)

Construction and Pani's Falls

We began in November 2006 ...

Apart from, you can never have too many trees, the Ungardener’s other maxim is, your pond can never be too big. This is about half the size he was planning on. We once saw a garden in Switzerland, where they had basically turned the ENTIRE garden into a huge pond. And that is what he wanted.
Our last garden was on a 45 degree slope, with lots of rocks, in Camps Bay. So he found this square, flat, featureless, rockless, ex vegetable garden
a bit flat,
and featureless.

... with a hole in April 2007

The Ungardener is responsible for the hard landscaping - waterfalls, pond, brick edged paths, grey water, storm water, and planting trees!

Future waterfall

Before we came to Porterville the Coop burnt down. They broke up the reinforced concrete floor and dumped the bits on a farm we passed to and from Wellington. The Ungardener began plotting and planning. We built a waterfall.

Building Pani's Falls

Pani's Falls October 2008

He collected one Land Rover load at a time, just a few pieces, to build each layer of the waterfall. The heavy labour was done by Pani, Rasta man, whose Sanskrit name means hand, so Pani’s Falls – hand made, fait de main (it sounds better in French!) Finally he tucked plants into the holes – Peace in the home and creeping Jenny.

Dwarf Papyrus in Ungardening Pond

Pani's Falls June 2009

We dug a hole for the water to fall into. It rained, and the floods filled the hole. We waited for the summer, to drain the hole, so we could line it, and make it waterproof. The soil that came out, was dumped in a berm behind the waterfall, to give the waterfall a reason to be. We built a raised path and Rest and Be Thankful. In the centre is Black Stork Island

Concrete lining over chicken wire in November 2007

Carlo lined the pond with chicken wire and concrete. The Ungardener built a jetty. He painted everything with bitumen. Afterwards we had to throw away everything except the Ungardener – jeans, shoes, broom for painting – all congealed with gobbets of bitumen. YUCK! YUCK!! YUCK!!!

Jetty built in November 2007

Lined with bitumen in December 2007

We filled it with municipal water. Pristine drinking water. About 18,000 litres. Averaged out over the year, for laundry (grey water reused on garden), living, and topping up pond – we use about 1,000 litres a day. Imagine a row of one thousand one litre plastic bottles, of treated municipal drinking water. Every day, and that is just for these two green adults. (There have been some heated discussions about this pond. I say, waste of water, he says, we are supporting wildlife)

Which turned green due to too much sun. We added floating plants, tiny ones, which industriously covered the entire surface and became just as much of a problem in their turn. Came free from the nursery – the man did try to warn us, WE have to fish it out each week! Finally found proper duckweed, which is at least big enough to fish out. The trees are now worthy of the name, and begin to throw shade.

We have a pump and a filter to circulate the water over the waterfall, and to give us that lovely restful noise of trickling, flowing water. There is so much life in the water – frogs, dragonflies, water snails, water skaters and water beetles. The cats, and lizards drink here, and birds drink and bathe. We have learnt to make a very gently sloping beach – so the wildlife can reach the water. And on 28th December 2007, we have a POND!!!


  1. Good Morning: Found you on blotanical. this is my first visit to your blog. Great Blog, nice job.

    Have a great day,

  2. At last I have tracked down the seafarer in his sailor's cap! Thank you for visiting us!


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Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
My Canon PowerShot A490

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