Flash floods and other watery diversions

It was typical that when the warm weather arrived in Scotland so too did a thunderstorm which dumped two inches of rain on the garden. The ‘creek’ became a torrent and the pond rose five feet in a couple of hours. My drainage system can’t cope with this sort of thing. I was away at the time, and returned to find the primulas clinging on for dear life, with all their nice top dressing swept away. Bog plants don’t mind being submerged now and again, but when the waters retreated, a fine layer of silt had covered every leaf and flower. What was green is now brown. It’s ironic that I now look forward to some rain to clean things up again.

The sun and the heat mean that it is time to tackle the worst job of the year – cleaning out the pond. I’m looking forward to this even less than usual, because I suspect my waders have perished and are no longer waterproof. The water in the pond is not deep, but there are about three feet of gooey silt under it, so waders are essential.The other essential is a pair of surgical gloves, because there is nothing nastier than putting a bare hand on a newt or any other of the wiggly things that live in the pond (though it’s probably even nastier for the newt). Here’s the scale of the task:The pond seems to have a fairly healthy ecology, and grows a variety of different water weed, but if I don’t clean out the vegetation once a year, it becomes choked. Besides, I like reflections, and pondweed does not reflect. The newts, tadpoles, snails and water-beetles don’t seem to mind, and the weed grows back quite rapidly. There’s also the bullrush (reed mace) problem…This is an amazing plant. Those cables linking parent plant to offspring are just one year’s growth. You can see it is designed to colonise shallow water as rapidly as it can. So it needs to be hauled out, in quantity. Luckily, its sponge-like roots rot down quickly in the compost heap, as does most of the weed. I am sure a pond-weed salad might be tasty – but not today, thanks:I try to save any newts that have become caught up in the weed, and keep a jar of water handy so they can rinse themselves off before returning to the pond:After several hours ploughing through the silt, the job is done. It will be a day or two before the mud settles and I have a mirror-like surface, but already it looks like a pond again, and not a bit of green lawn.(and yes, the waders were perished. Socks and jeans are in the wash).

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17 thoughts on “Flash floods and other watery diversions

  1. Now I’m seriously impressed. Mine is totally full of weed and common irises again, along with that deep, deep silt. Bit scared to get in there really…. Next weekend maybe.

  2. Hi, that was an amazing job. We have two little fishponds that we clean continuously. It never frosts here so we can always work on the ponds though it is nicer in summer.
    I like the way you save the newts. Newts, what are newts? We have frogs.
    My blogspot is The Plantista. It has plants from Sydney, Australia

  3. You certainly have to deal with water in all its forms Kininvie. Fortunately you are resourceful about it — a new pair of waders and you’re set. I’m glad the worst job of the year is over. Is there champagne for that?

    • No champagne – the scent of mud spoils the bouquet. Champagne is reserved for the bank cutting only. If I started awarding myself a half bottle for every nasty garden job, where would I be? (very tiddly, is the answer).

  4. What a job, never nice to do at any time, even in waders that don’t leak! A few of my plants are spreading too much so will have to get into mine one day soon, no waders so it will be a shorts and old sandals job!!

    • I used to clean out the pond without waders……but it was an even less pleasant experience. Pond mud not only smells bad – it is remarkably persistent, even under the shower.

  5. My waders leak too, Mr K. Just a little – which seems even more disconcerting; a small steady, cold trickle down my leg. I very much sympathise with your duckweed problem (as well you know) – and I may do a companion piece on reed mace (if you don’t mind?). It is beginning to colonise more and more of the ponds and ditches. As a matter of interest do you remove the seed heads? I suppose I ought to (before they self-seed as well as spread vegetatively) but I rather like the look of them. Five feet of water in two hours? Good grief. Gardening at the edge again, aren’t you? Dave

    • There’s a silver lining to every cloud – the flash flood swept away almost all the duckweed (no doubt it will be back again). I certainly leave the reed mace heads – they are the only reason I allow the plant anywhere near my pond.

  6. Hi Kininvie, we had the heat and I expected the thunderstorm but it never arrived, badly needing rain. Our little puddle is easy to clean out, I scoop out some of the duckweed regularly, although I have my instructions not to clear it completely as Myra says it is fairy moss. I like your picture of the Newt, I don’t think we get them up here in the north east.

        • My daughter used to live in Nairn, she didn’t have a very big garden but there was a lovely view of Cawdor Castle (What beautiful gardens there ) from the sitting room which made up for the lack of flowers. She now lives in Cromarty with a sizable garden and a view of Invergordon and the visiting cruise ships. I can’t wait to visit and find out which plants are growing in the new garden now spring has finally arrived.

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