There can be no denying the value of offering different environments in your garden, you can attract a wider variety of wildlife visitors, make best use of your individual garden conditions to create specific areas, and of course it means you can enjoy a wider range of plants too!
The presence of water offers just such an opportunity – a patch of ground which never really dries out makes the perfect site for a bog garden, while a beautiful pond can be created anywhere you like.
Whether you choose a pond or a bog garden (or both!), the great news is that there are lots of plants to choose from – so if you’re wondering about water plants, or musing about moisture-lovers, take a look at our top choices for moisture-loving plants, and recommendations for pond plants from our in-store experts at Rats, Cats & Elephants Pet & Aquatic Centre.
And if you do have a pond, then you’ll want to be able to see all the wildlife – so they have also provided some top tips to keeping your pond water clear in summer, and click here to see their guide to re-potting pond plants.
Moisture-loving plants generally like rich and fertile soil, so be sure to dig in lots of well-rotted garden compost, manure, or some bags of composted bark. After that maintenance is simple – sprinkle general feed around in spring and then mulch heavily to top up nutrients and prevent the ground drying out.
As most moisture-loving plants are perennials, it is not difficult to have a bog garden that looks wonderful in spring, summer and autumn – to keep things interesting in winter, add chunky tree stumps and, if you have space, a wet-loving shrub such as dogwood.
Ligularia – (below left) loving a sunny spot in moist soil, this hardy perennial provides tall stems of beautiful yellow flowers from mid to late summer and attractive foliage with deeply cut edges.
Gunnera – (below middle) one of the biggest and most spectacular, architectural moisture-lovers, these look fabulous as a specimen plant in a bog garden or beside a large pond.
Carex – (below right) choose from Carex elata aurea, a delightful dwarf sedge which forms compact tufts of arching, dark green leaves, edged with white, or Carex secta which takes on a yellow-green colour in open situations.
Plants are essential in ponds. They offer bed and breakfast facilities, act as crèches for the inhabitants, and provide air conditioning and waste disposal – all necessary to deal with fish manure and decomposing water-weed which is deposited at the bottom of your pond each year.
Plants also look good, providing foliage and flowers all summer and there are four types – deep-water aquatics, marginals, submerged oxygenators and floating plants. For a pond to function properly, you need to include a few plants from each of the first three groups, and floating plants are an optional extra.
Deep-water aquatics – as the description suggests, these grow in the deep water in your pond. The most popular choice is probably the unmistakably beautiful water lily, providing floating leaves and stunning flowers in a huge choice of colours and sizes.
Marginals – these plants grow in the shallow water around the edge of your pond, providing areas for wildlife and using up minerals in your water which would otherwise feed algae. The Marsh Marigold is a favourite, with its dark, shiny kidney-shaped leaves and lovely large yellow buttercup flowers.
Oxygenators – these plants grow under the water and, like all plants, produce the oxygen needed by fish and other pond-life through photosynthesis – they also provide good places to hide and breed. There are a few to choose from, some of which are evergreen such as Largosyphon Major Elodea Crispa (or goldfish weed!) but whatever you choose, as a guide, you’ll need five bunches of oxygenating plant per square metre of water surface area.
Floating – if your pond is new then floating plants are a good way of providing instant shade, helping to keep your water cool and provide cover for pond-life. Some are the water equivalent of annuals while others may over-winter on the bottom before re-surfacing each year – the beautiful water hyacinth is a popular choice of ‘water annual’, and the native frogbit will return each year looking just like a miniature water lily with delicate white flowers.
Ponds in Summer
Having worked hard to create a beautiful pond, you’ll want to keep it looking its best, so we’ve detailed the most common issues you’re likely to encounter and simple solutions to ensure your pond stays nice and clear.
The sun is always welcome in the summer, but it can cause algae blooms in pond water which has the effect of turning your water rather green. If you have an external pond filter or pump water to a waterfall, the most common treatment is to filter the water through UV clarifiers – and as the water passes over the UV bulb, the algae cells are destroyed.
Alternatively you can use an algaecide which kills the algae cells, although this method is not permanent so you will need to treat your pond throughout the summer.
Blanket weed is caused primarily by the water in a pond being ‘hard’, ie it has a high mineral content. Most pond owners top their ponds up regularly which increases the calcium and other minerals, and these minerals cause an imbalance in the pond which leads to algae formation and growth.
The best method of treatment is to use a product which introduces trace minerals and enzymes such as Cloverleaf Blanket Answer. The trace minerals re-balance the mineral levels in the water, and the enzymes out-compete the blanket weed for the calcium, thus starving it and causing it to die off.
Low Oxygen Levels
Oxygen plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy pond environment. If you have fish in your pond then they will need oxygen to breathe, and water rich in oxygen allows efficient biological filtration. A stable pond environment with clean and clear water depends on oxygen.
Your pond should contain some oxygenating plants as above, but you can also improve the oxygen content in your pond by introducing an aeration device, such as water fountain or bubbler. These break the surface of the pond which allows the release of harmful gases and the incorporation of oxygen.
Pond Plants – the simplest solution!
We’ve offered solutions to some of the issues you may encounter in your pond during the summer, but the really good news is that these issues can all be avoided by introducing pond plants. When your pond plants grow, their leaves provide water surface cover which reduces the amount of sunlight entering your pond – this then restricts the growing conditions favoured by algae.
So now you have information on the types of plants you need and the choice available, you can get busy choosing and planting – but remember, whichever you choose, you should aim to cover 75% of the water surface area to provide the most beneficial effects.
We have a great range of moisture-loving and pond plants in store, so visit us now and create your own oasis!