Organic Gardening – Ponds as Habitats for Wildlife
Habitats 2: Ponds
A pond does not have to be particularly large, although the larger the design the greater the variety of water plants that can be grown and the more wildlife it will attract.
Native water plants will help to make it a richer habitat for wildlife. Many of these plants are as beautiful as exotic species, and they are easy to buy. A large proportion of the water plants sold by garden centres and specialist suppliers are in fact natives.
Ideally, the pool should have a deep area where wildlife can go if the pool freezes, a shallow beach for easy access and some shelves for plants to grow on.
Most of the following plants are suitable for a small garden pond with a surface area of about 3sq m (33sq ft) and a depth of about 60cm (2ft), with marginal shelves. However, the water lily ideally needs a depth of at least 1.8m (6ft).
Callitriche spp. (water starwort)
Ceratophyllum demersum (hornwort)
Fontinalis antipyretica (willow moss)
Myriophyllum verticillatum (milfoil)
Hydrcharis morsus-ranae (frogbit)
Lemna minor (duckweed)
Stratiotes aloides (water soldier)
Hottonia palustris (water violet)
Nuphar lutea (yellow pond lily)
alba (white water lily)
Nymphoides peltata (fringed water lily)
Caltha palustris (marsh marigold)
Menyanthes trifoliata (bog bean)
Myosotis scorpioides (water forget-me-not)
Ranunculus flammula (lesser spearwort)
Veronica beccabunga (brooklime)
Ajuga reptans (bugle)
Cardamine pratensis (lady’s smock)
Filipendula ulmaria (meadowsweet)
Lychnis flos-cuculi (ragged robin)
Lusimachia nummularia (creeping jenny)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)
Nooks and Crannies
You only have to move an old pile of logs or a heap of stones to realize just how many creatures make their homes in the damp, cool crevices. Spiders, centipedes, beetles and newts, for example, can all be found, and perhaps a mouse or two as well. To encourage them, build one or two piles of logs in the shrubbery, for instance, (you can hide them behind taller-growing subjects if you wish), or put a few large stones in an inconspicuous place, such as behind the shed, to provide useful habitats.
Dry-stone walls constructed without mortar also provide plenty of nooks and crannies for insects and other small creatures. Furthermore, the reflected warmth from the stones encourages butterflies and slow worms to bask.
You do not have to be an expert to build a low retaining wall for a border. Not only will this harbour wildlife, but it can also add to the look of the garden, especially if you use local stone. Suitable stone can be obtained from stone merchants and from some garden centres.
Building a dry-stone retaining wall
You will need about 0.5t/cu m (7-1/2 cwt/cu yd) of stone per wall.
To make a firm foundation, dig out the topsoil over the area needed for the base of the wall. Fill in this trench with hardcore (broken stones or bricks), compacting it with a sledge hammer, and put sand on the top to make the surface level.
Choose some large, flat foundation stones for the base and lay them down in a single layer, firming them in place. Build up the wall, overlapping the courses of stone in a staggered manner.
To make the wall stable, slope it back and downwards towards the border so that it will be retaining at an angle of about 8° from the vertical. Finish the top with a layer of flat stones. Push small stones behind the main blocks which make up the courses of the wall to reinforce it, before levelling off the borderbehind.