Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

Speedy Seeds

Monday, 29th January, 2007

View from Shelley
Looking south east from the 1841 café, Armitages Garden Centre, Shelley

IT’S THAT TIME of year when we start getting great plans for the garden and we take the mums off for coffee at Armitage’s Garden Centre (where, I’m pleased to say, my garden sketchbook Rough Patch and my High Peak Drifter are both on sale).

View from Armitages

We're keen to see results soon so Barbara and I are tempted by the Suttons SpeedySeeds selection such as the oriental salad leaves which are ready for use in 3 weeks. We also go for the baby carrots which are ready to harvest in 12 weeks, only to discover we bought some last year but never planted them.

This year we’re determined to get some crops going!

Lombardy poplar, looking west from the Black Bull, Midgley

Weeding the Pond

water plantsIt’s a surprisingly warm, sunny afternoon so we get down to work. I find that the long-armed pond gloves I bought last year are perfect for clearing the overgrown water plants and moss. You can’t attack a pond with shears, rakespade and fork when it’s got a butyl liner. I used to rake off the floating plants but that left an ever-growing fringe of vegetation around the edges.

It’s tough work but by pulling out the floating weed in handfuls and going at the surrounding fringe of moss bit by bit I clear most of our pool table-sized pond in a couple of hours.

pondWith these long gloves you can get your arm right under the clumps to pull out roots, then pick bits off the side (which is like pulling bits off cotton wool) and thin out the moss on top. You gradually get through what seemed like an intractable mass of vegetation.

As I work, I notice a single;

eft (young smooth newt)

a dragonfly larva

and a (smaller) damselfly larva (its three long flat tail appendages don't show on this sketch).

frogThere are also several frogs which I disturb from their winter quarters down in the tangle.

There are no pond snails (perhaps they’ve retreated to the bottom of the pond), water beetles, water boatmen or pond skaters around.

robinA robin hops around me as I work, I love that perky alertness as it keeps an eye open for any small creatures amongst the waterweeds. I rinse each handful of weed as I pull it out in an attempt not to remove too much pond life then I pile up the water plants around the edge, hoping that any creature that I might have missed will crawl out and find its way back into the water.

pondI don’t come across any oxygenating pondweeds: the floating plants have obliterated them so I’ll have to reintroduce a few clumps. I even manage to wrestle off a few of the flag irises that have spread across the middle pond.

It's good to have the element of water back in the garden.