11 Apr
Pond Ponderings – from a NEW writer, Gareth Harbottle in Newark, Nottinghamshire

Pond Ponderings – from a NEW writer, Gareth Harbottle in Newark, Nottinghamshire

Transition to Wildlife Friendly Gardening

I’ve enjoyed gardening since starting with some containers around 15 years ago. I always craved some kind of theme though, an overall objective or colour scheme or whatever, but could never settle on one.

Around 2017 though the moment of inspiration came whilst watching damselflies near the confluence of the River Trent and the River Devon, where I live in Newark, Nottinghamshire.

I decided that I would unite all my gardening pursuits under one ethos – being beneficial to wildlife. Having a young family meant that I wasn’t awash with spare time or cash. As a result, a grand makeover was out of the question and would have to be done a little at a time, keeping some beneficial plants and removing others.

New projects included a mini meadow, a tree from the Woodland Trust and eventually, in autumn 2019, a mini pond! I found what I thought was the best spot for the pond with plenty of light, no overhanging trees, but leaving space for my daughters to play.

The only downside with the spot was the slight upward change of level from the patio which made things a little awkward, so I went for a rigid liner and raised the level at the patio end with some reclaimed bricks.

A friend helped me out with some aquatic plants, mostly native with a couple of non-natives. The core native plants are Brooklime, Water Forget-me-not, Yellow Flag Iris, Kingcup and Hornwort.

2020 was a successful first summer for the pond with Common Darters emerging. 7 exuviae were found, an adult which I managed to photograph with my SLR and one in the process of emerging, hastily captured on my phone before dashing to work. From that moment on I was hooked, I joined the British Dragonfly Society days later.

Hearing about other Pond Ponderings and wildlife gardening makes you feel like your garden is one of a vast network of potential mini nature reserves – an optimistic and uplifting thought.

2021 was much leaner in terms of Odonata, with just one unidentified damselfly larva spotted, it emerged from the pond up a stem to hopefully transform, then changed its mind and went back below the surface.

In late 2021 I enlarged this pond with a flexible liner and moved the rigid one to the front garden, thus giving me two wildlife gardens, which I hope to post on Pond Ponderings at a later date.



All photos copyright of Gareth Harbottle.