Why more than a year since my last post? In short, it’s always my inclination to be out in the garden getting on with the mass of jobs rather than to be sitting at my computer. No apology!
But we had a good year in the garden with a lot of visitors, helped, I am sure, by being listed in The Times (3 Aug 2019) as being among twenty of ‘Britain’s most beautiful gardens’.
My last post here was about the colours of the garden at the end of summer 2018, but what was on my mind was the large amount of weed which had grown up on the surface of the big pond since the spring. It was a thick cover of Canadian pond weed (Elodea Canadensis) which was growing up from the bottom, 2 to 3m, and surface floating duck weed – neither of them offensive like blanket weed but both taking away the reflection and pleasure of a clear surface. The cause of the weed is the high level of phosphates and nitrogen of the water carried by the Curl Brook which feeds down the valley from the agricultural area to the west, totally outside my control.
In the autumn I spent a lot of time considering whether the problem could be reduced by removing the weed and/or sediment from the pond and how this could be done in an area of difficult access. The conclusion was that the poor water quality would bring back the weed and that removing the sediment would disturb the pond equilibrium and could easily end by bringing in blanket weed. Further mulling presented the fact that lakes around the margin of the valley, fed by local runoff from adjacent hill slopes, had remarkably little weed. Better late than never (!) I saw that here at the mill we have a similar situation with a small inflow, which we call The Rill, joining the garden via a ditch fed from the small hill to the south. Analyses of the two sources showed the Rill water to have a phosphate content of only about 10% of the content of the leat. With this encouraging finding at was not hard to replace the inflow to the pond with water from the Rill.
The effect of the improved water quality was very good. Elodea never appeared on the surface through the summer but there was some duck weed which appeared patchily. By the end of the summer the water was clear. It seems reasonable to expect the surface of the pond to now stay reasonably clear.
The last year has brought two changes which have crept up on me, other than anno domini ! People often ask me what will be the next folly – follies have become a big feature of the garden. In short, the answer is that there will be no more. Partly this is because I can think of no place which needs one; also perhaps because I am running out of energy. I have always wanted the garden itself to be the soul of the place with follies merely as a decoration. These ‘decorations’ are getting older and now require a fair amount of maintenance work. Maintenance extends to the impact of erosion caused by the water which churns through the garden in winter and the need to prune and cut back the many trees and shrubs which we planted. You might be amused to hear that the ‘Monet’ bridge is in pieces for a rework with the two arches drying out in front of a radiator in the house – how tolerant is my wife!
The second change in the work emphasis is that our main garden activity is now trying to upgrade the variety of the existing planting and to extend the interest over a longer period.
Maybe there will be more blog posts. Or I may decide to limit my posts to upgrading the pictures in the ‘galery’. This one I will send now and if anyone reads it in the next two days I can still wish you a 2019 Happy Christmas. In any case I can wish you a very good 2020 and hope to see you here after 1st April. Richard Pim