06 April, 2010

On Ungardening Pond 3

This is about Ungardening. The construction of the pond (1) started in November 2006.  Pani's Falls was one of the Ungardener's earliest projects, while the builders were still working on the house. NON-gardeners LOL at people who work on the garden, when the house is still not done - and we, we wonder what on earth they are laughing at? How can you NOT garden if you have 'Give me land, lots of land ...' Why Black Stork Island? We first filled the  pond (2) in January 2008.

Here the water level has already dropped somewhat

Then came the planting. Gardening is a steep learning curve. Love That! Plant it. O-o-oh dear! First thug was the bulrush-or-bullrush which devoured our pond. Drain half the water, find the culprit, remove convicted criminal to where he can do no harm. Repair pond. Refill with water.

Fast forward. This summer has been hot, with a week in March (Jodi's Farch reaching all the way from Nova Scotia across the Atlantic Ocean), while we were in Addo elephant hunting, when the temperature stayed around 40C/104F. We were constantly refilling the pond, a lot of expensive treated municipal drinking water. Expensive for nature too, in this dry country of ours. So we let the level drop, to see if it stabilises (quite high up please, hopefully) at a crack we can fix. Down, down, down till the kingfisher says this place is not what it was when I was a boy. I remember when the water came up to the shore, and you didn't have to take a bus to get there.

Pickerel Weed taking over the Island

The second culprit is Pontederia, Pickerel weed, an invasive North American, with beautiful blue flowers. And it is devouring our island, grows so fast that the 'island' looks like a peninsula. As an invasive alien, we are obliged to remove it, and make sure the bits are mulched into our garden, NOT allowed to wreak havoc in rivers.

And my beloved so-called 'dwarf' papyrus has devoured the waterfall. We started off with two tasteful, lady-like clumps and ended with a curtain which trapped the Kariba weed (yet another sad story, pool scoop working overtime) and muffled that lovely sound of water trickling down the waterfall and pattering into the pond. Make that solid green carpet of Kariba weed, so thick the cat considers walking on it while frog hunting.

One of my blog visitors came looking for 'an elephant named Diana'
Dwarf? It is as tall as I am! 

So I spend the morning cutting back the papyrus, which I did last March too. Then the Ungardener comes to tidy up the underwater bits. Maybe cut back the roots a bit? And out the whole damn catastrophe comes. We retrieved half a dozen small bits for future replanting. Clouds of pollen everywhere, and he is sneezing his head off. OK now we can see - what is that? - open water! And blue sky sparkling in its reflection.

We have an Island again

We are now sadly at the really tacky stage. Drain the shallow part. Four legged watering system on overtime, and on strike. At least we can use the pool pump to lift and distribute the water. Wait for it to dry out. Dust off the debris and find the damage. Reseal with yucky, mucky bitumen. Let it cure. Hope it doesn't rain till we are good and ready.

We have the water-lilies, yellow Louisiana Iris and Well-Behaved potted reeds waiting in the deep water, with the frogs and dragonfly larvae. And the bits of dwarf papyrus back where they started, in the baby bath W A I T I N G!

Refill. With perfectly timed rain? When the fourth instalment will follow.

Photos by Jurg and Diana, words by Diana of  Elephant's Eye 


  1. Dear Diana,

    "Mud, mud, glorious mud,
    Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood"

    is what immediately comes to mind. Oh dear, what a tale of doom, gloom and disaster although the final picture does, happily, tell a different story.

    I do very much hope that all repair work will go to plan and neither prove too arduous nor too expensive.

  2. It's amazing how some plants just go crazy around water - hope your rain perfectly timed arrives :)

  3. The ungardener... I like that. Pickerel weed is a native all the way to the southern tip of florida but it's still too weedy for anything but nature restoration in ditches. I want to plant some papyrus in my swamp, but I think I'll go for the larger kind since it would be more in scale in the big space i have for it. Even the dwarf one can get kinda big so I'll have to be careful.

  4. Wow, this talk of invasive plants and so much work truly scares me from wanting a pond. It does look beautiful, though. I love your invasive/our native pickerel weed. I see it often when I walk through the swamp and down by the river. It's nice and bright among the cypress stumps and ferns.

  5. I look forward to the next installment!! Sounds like quite an adventure so far, but now nicely under control. It's always 'interesting' when plants don't behave as expected.

  6. It's amazing how much effort it can take to set up and maintain a pond. Our pond was a labor intensive labor of love, but it was always so satisfying when everything came together. Glad you found your island again, your pond really looks beautiful.

  7. Floridagirl - a wildlife pond is always worth whatever it takes. The delight of dragonflies, frogs, and kingfisher (who was busy here today, despite the work in progress) makes it worth it in the end. The getting there is daunting. But hey, if it comes labelled as 'invasive alien - to be removed'!

  8. Without a clue to tending a wildlife pond, Diana, I'm exhausted reading but find the difference in our homes so enjoyable/educational. I see a labor of love!

  9. Your pond looks wonderful, so natural too! Just read through your elephant post too which was so full of information, history and odd things like the elephants love of oranges and the problems that created. Great photos. Wonderful!

  10. Your pond looks very beautiful and getting in it also looks inviting, even if it is for hard work, but satisfying work, yes?


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Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
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