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).