I had a great reaction to last week’s post about my ‘passion for ponds’ and received lots of questions about plants, especially those that attract wildlife. If you build a good habitat for wildlife, you’ll not be the only one ‘fond of a pond’!
I’m going to start off with listing some of the pond plants we have – we’ve bought some of these from garden centres and last year we found a really reasonable supplier online; it’s definitely worth shopping around and doing your research:
- marsh marigold – good for pollinators
- iris – great for emerging dragonflies to climb up, so they can take off from a height
- oxygenators – help to oxygenate the water (we haven’t got a filter system in our pond, we just rely on mother nature to keep it clean)
- purple loosestrife – another great native plant
- greater spearwort – just to note greater spearwort and flag iris are a bit of a beast and can be out of control in no time
We’re on the hunt for a white pond lily this year, for the new pond and also some water forget-me-nots
A quick dip in our pond reveals the smallest organism, water fleas, which are the start of the food chain, there’s also mosquito larvae and pond snails which eat algae. There’s the predators of the pond, dragonfly and damselfly nymphs and tadpoles & frogs. There’s also the visitors to the pond such as birds, who bathe and drink there and we had a fox visit once.
Dragonflies in particular are such beautiful insects, they fly so fast, but when you get to see them up close, you can see the intricate patterns on their wings, like stained glass windows. With their beautiful jewel like body and big black eyes, it’s hard to believe that they’re really a vicious predator. It’s incredible how they live most of their life in ponds as carnivores, so well adapted and the way they change like something out of Dr Who, when they shed their skin and metamorphosis right before your eyes.
The pond became my classroom during lockdown (spring – summer 2020); I was incredibly lucky to watch 40+ red damselflies emerge from our pond. What a privilege to see them transform and fly off and better still, we witnessed them mating a couple of weeks later, ensuring the next generation of damselflies. We also counted eight broad bodied chasers transform too, they completely dwarfed the damselflies. It took nearly 3 hours for them to transform and fly off, it was absolutely fascinating. I managed to capture one of the broad bodied chasers emerging – here’s 3hrs of footage shrunk to 3mins with a bit of Frank Sinatra thrown in !
We’ve had blue-tailed damselflies and darters visit; fingers crossed they’ll make their home in our pond too.
As we move into winter there’s not much action on the surface, but life beneath still thrives. We continually remove leaves from our pond and as we move into the thick of winter, our ponds freeze over. We break a hole in a shallow spot just near the beach bit, to allow wildlife access to water. Just take care though, as you don’t want to shock the life below!
This blog is based on an article I wrote for The British Dragonfly Society
My new found passion for The Pennines