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Well I wont do that again!


What wont I do again? Let me share with you an error I made this year; one which my daughter Victoria keeps ‘rubbing in’ with comments like ‘Well what did you expect? Not really surprising if you’d thought about it’ etc.
For 20+ years I have had pots of plants standing on the walls of the raised pond to give interest from the kitchen window. Succession of bulbs, starting with Iris reticulata, moving on through crocus, narcissus and tulips give a lot of joy in the spring and are replaced by bedding plants in the summer. Some pots are home to tender shrubs like Fuchsia which are moved into the greenhouse for winter. Various varieties of Agapanthus and Cyclamen hederifolium in the autumn and C coum in the spring stay on the wall all year.

Clear water and a hint of ice back in January 2020.

Iris reticulate DS Dijt

This year I decided to give them all some tlc so I re-potted all the pots with fresh compost and to encourage strong growth and flowering, slow release granular fertilizer. Spring displays were beautiful, the fish started to rise for feeding as the water warmed up.

The green soup of early March usually clears by mid-April with no intervention from me. This year? Not a chance, thick green and all the pond plants were growing like crazy but did it clear? No!

I replaced the UV bulb in the filter box, I even tried barley straw. Nothing: well not true lots more green. The lilies flowered beautifully, as did the water hawthorn, bog bean and water soldier.

An un-named water lily.

The native Bog bean.

Lots of damsel and dragon flies too. The oxygenators flourished and the fish? Didn’t see them. I started to worry that a local heron that had been seen in the neighbour’s pond had found a way to fish in ours. Or had the local gulls come back?

Then in September Victoria said one word, a word to fill me with realisation. She was so smug. [I’ll blame that character trait on her dad.] That word: Enrichment; then the coup de grâce ‘Eutrophication, mother!’.

I can see it clearly now. Every time it rained or I watered those pots small amounts of fertilizer ran off into the pond. Providing nutrients for the microscopic green algae that kept on flourishing. When they died they were removed by the filter so the pond itself stayed fit and healthy. Eutrophication, a concept I have taught so many times over the years and I set it up in my own pond. Oh the shame!

Since November lots of the algae is dying and the fish are there in all their glory. In fact they seem to have enjoyed the privacy of the green murk as there are a lot of small fish from this year’s spawning.

So I won’t add slow release granules to all the pots that are destined for the pond wall. Husband, Steve would prefer not to have pots on the wall as he regularly hits them with the lawn mower handle. No doubt I will make more mistakes in the years to come. But that is the joy of gardening.

Is there anything you have done that you wont repeat again?

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I wonder if it would have helped to put saucers under the pots to hold the draining water ?
I think you should keep the pots on the wall, I've seen your photos and they look nice. Tell husband to be more careful :)

What have I done that I won't repeat ? Well I was moving a big pot containing a Cistus from one part of the garden to another, and instead of taking it along the path I walked along the top of a wall, thinking it would save time,
but my jeans were frayed at the bottom and my foot caught in the frayed bits and I fell off the wall. The pot smashed and cut through my jeans (which were worn very thin anyway) and I ended up in A&E and had to have 7 stiches in my leg.
SO I won't be carrying pots along the top of walls any more, and I always roll the bottom of my frayed jeans up above my ankles when I'm gardening - I look a bit daft like that but who cares :D

21 Dec, 2020


That was my first thought. Fertilizer from the pots must have leached into the pond causing algae blooms. Some algae strains are detrimental such as red algae (google red tide) which can choke out the fish. Glad you caught it though. Nice pots.

21 Dec, 2020


ouch Hywel, that is certainly a hard lesson learnt but it could have been so much worse. Glad your leg recovered and you didn't break any bones.

Any new pots of plants always have fertilizer added but it was the sheer numbers that did it. Just didn't think it through as the pots get moved when they finish flowering so it was a continual replenishment. But no harm done. Fortunately this is a single celled green algal species and fresh water.

My understanding of the 'red tides' is that it is marine based being caused by algae, diatoms and dinoflagellates. Australia gets bad red tides too but theirs are caused by different species of algae. I don't think the UK has had any cases.

Another toxic bloom is caused by blue green algae that we often get in fresh water lakes and ponds and that is also toxic to wildlife and dog walkers are told to keep their dogs out of the water.

22 Dec, 2020


That made me smile SBG why are the young such clever clogs and smug these days ,they know it all Grrrrr .....

22 Dec, 2020


I did teach her all about eutrophication when she was a young teenager at least she remembered Haha.

22 Dec, 2020


I thought about the fertilizer too Seaburn, but it's so easy to not think about it, isn't it! My daughter is like yours with a " oh Mother!" if I do anything silly.
I am sorry Hywel, but I had to smile picturing what happened to you, but sorry you ended up in hospital!

22 Dec, 2020


I do love your coi, especially how they come up to the surface and like to be stroked.

22 Dec, 2020


Yes Rose, I just didn't think about it as I usually only do the odd pot not all of them and over the year there will be 30+ pots and some are large.

My eldest girl does the 'Yes mother' a la Bridget Jones.

We don't have Koi Paul as they need too much 'faffing about' with filters etc. There are shubunkins and goldfish, some are veil tailed and others are just plain. The biggest ones are about 8inches long and the smallest about 1-2 inches long. They come up but they wont let you touch them at all. In the past we have had orfe, wild tench and mirror carp. The tench were 28 yrs old when they died and would take food from your hand.

22 Dec, 2020


Over here on Long Island, we have to worry about Red Tail Hawks dive bombing the fish pond and another thing...raccoons! They are deft fishers.

22 Dec, 2020


Glad it worked out for you, we never stop learning, one thing I was asked to do but refused to do by a client was so ridiculous you could not make it up, so the job entailed making a large rockery, three ton of soil was used and a selection of lovely rocks hand picked by myself to create a natural rugged looking rockery, each stone positioned with plenty of standing back looking to get it it spot on, it worked out really well alpines were planted and they loved it, but she said I want you to paint each stone white and had bought a few tins of Dulux paint, I told her it would look stupid and that I would not do it, I stood my ground, got my money and said goodbye.

22 Dec, 2020


I have caught a herring gull [Larus argentatus] fishing in our pond last summer and the fish quickly stopped coming to the surface, they waited for the fish food to sink. The grey heron [Ardea cinerea] often looks in but as it cant wade in to the pond the fish are left alone. Not so for the neighbours however.There is a heronry about 3 miles away at a series of fishing lakes so we often get them flying over to the local Wetland reserve or to the banks of the Humber.

Oh Julien that is awful. I wonder if she got any one to do it for her; I hope not.

22 Dec, 2020


I will never know, but I am sure she will have as she and her husband were very insistent that I paint them, she was a lovely lady who explained to me that in India that is what they did, but I could not bring myself to do it and had to stick to my principles, now when gave her the brief of the job and asked her if she was happy which she was then that’s when she could have told me that she wanted them painting, what a nightmare it turned into as trying to get paid was very difficult.

23 Dec, 2020


Oh blimey I've never heard that word, in all our years of having ponds I've never put fertilizer on any plants in or near either pond, I don't even plant in anything other than gravel either if pot/basket is going into the pond, the silt builds up in my baskets and that is what my plants live in, thats what I've always done and it's worked for me, I'm a great believer in the saying" If it ain't broke don't try and fix it "when feeding my acers or any other pots that stand near my bottom pond, I always drag them onto the lawn so any escaping food runs into the lawn not the pond ..
My most dangerous and daft mishap was working on the edge of the fishpond and falling in backwards in January, in my defence my stupid wonky knee gave way, I landed on the two pots standing on the ledge, couldn't get a grip on anything at first to pull myself back out, was frightened I was going to fall even further into the deeper part , took me ages to get back out and when I did all I could think about was what would have happened if I had cracked my head on one of the edging stones, what made it even worse was the fact I was home on my own.....I have learnt my lesson......

23 Dec, 2020


ouch Lincs, you had a lucky escape from serious injury.
the plants in the pond are just in gravel with nothing else added as the fish would stir up any compost and that isn't the look we were after. The fish add there own fertilizer.
All I can say in my defence is that many plants hadn't been repotted for several years and Lock down blues had me cleaning things that hadn't been done for years. I even washed and re stacked all the contents of the shed! haha! Oh and the kitchen cupboards and my sewing room, the spare bedroom etc.

23 Dec, 2020


Thought it was a raised lawn, haha.
We all do things without thinking of the consequences sometimes. It only gets worse as one gets older!

24 Dec, 2020


What a lot of accidents we gardeners seem to have as we get carried away with various jobs. Both accidents described by Hywel & Linclass were quite serious really. I got my foot caught in a loop of string which for some reason was tied round the base of a post. I couldn't keep my balance & fell over backwards ( like Linclass). Landed across the handle of a fork. It was quite a bang & couldn't get up at first. We must all be more careful in future. I find that we are a bit more unsteady as we get older. Still we three are here to garden for another day.😊

28 Dec, 2020


too true Feverfew. I have had a few narrow escapes especially around the greenhouse.

28 Dec, 2020


Goodness what a chapter of accidents! What a good thing you all survived without anything really serious happening. Lincs falling in the pond in winter must have been a very nasty shock! Hywel so glad you didn't break anything! Rolled trousers in future! Ouch Feverfew! My two nasties were getting a hydrangea twig in my eye when I was pruning - (boy did that hurt) and another falling - turned round and next think I knew I was hitting my head on a concrete paving stone that was leaning against a low wall. Spot of concussion from that one.
Julien top marks for refusing to paint those rocks - doesn't bear thinking about!

But this started off as thanks to our tame biologist for a wonderful new word - eutrophication!

28 Dec, 2020


tame! I've never been called that before haha. the Biology Witch from the younger kids became Biology Queen by the older ones.

29 Dec, 2020


Both compliments in their way...

30 Dec, 2020


yes I guess so. I never took any offence unless the comment had old in it then I'd object to the old.

30 Dec, 2020

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