The Care of Water Features
Occasionally in the life of any small pond it will be found desirable to give it a thorough clean out.
In a small pool the best way to arrange for an outlet for cleaning purposes is by way of a plug in the bottom, accompanied by a sump into which the water will go. Failing this, the hose method of siphoning the water away, as already described, is satisfactory and simple. Once filled, a small pool does not need a constant flow of water. Even if Waterare being grown it is quite sufficient to keep up the water level by the use of the garden hose after a dry day. If movement is wanted a fountain will be sufficient to cause ripples on the surface.
In larger pools an economical way of arranging for a regular fountain supply is by the installation of a small electric pump. This uses the same water over and over again, returning it via cascades or fountains, according to the type of water garden.
A correct balance between the plant and animal life in a pond of any size will keep the water fresh even though it is not part of a running stream.
A green surface growth known as “Blanket weed” often troubles the owner of a garden pond. This can usually be removed with a stick as soon as it appears. When it gets the upper hand, potassium permanganate, or copper sulphate, in a muslin bag, dragged through the water is effective if done at the right stage of growth of the “ blanket weed.” Care is needed in this if fish are present, or they may easily be killed.
In autumn, a wire mesh screen placed across the part of a pool which is nearest to trees is useful, to prevent quantities of leaves from falling into the water.
Fish in the Water Garden
Plants should be placed in the pool some three or four weeks before the fish are introduced. This gives the pool time to mature a little, and the fish will consequently have a better chance of success.
Good-sized fish, say not less than 5 in., are the best to buy, and a 400-gallon pond will take 80 fish this size (a rule to follow is 1 in. of fish to each gallon of water). It is best, however, to stock a new pond gradually, and in any case a pond should never be stocked to its full capacity.
Some of the most ornamental fish for garden ponds and pools are the Golden Orfe, Golden Carp, Golden Tench, and Goldfish. These like fairly shallow water, planted with Elodea and other oxygenating plants. They are best fed with proprietary fish-foods. A good plan when many fish are kept is to have a separate aquarium for fish which seem to be “off colour.” There the fish can be fed with special foods, and cured before they are put back in the pond.
Planting the Water Garden
There are many types of plants which can be accommodated in the water garden. The first favourites are the Water Lilies or Nymphffias. These are usually planted first in a basket of loosely-woven material; they can be bought packed like this from the nurserymen, if desired, and merely set in the bottom of the pool. Large varieties should be at least 6 ft. and smaller ones 3 ft. apart. 2 ft. to 2 ft. 6 in. is deep enough for most Nymphaas, and the pygmy varieties will grow in a depth of 18 in.
May is the best month for planting, and the bestis heavy loam and well-decayed manure. Coarse bone-meal can be used as a substitute for manure.
A large number of the Water Lilies are perfectly hardy and can remain where they are planted, all winter. A few (including the blue varieties) are not perfectly hardy, and must be lifted and kept through the winter in a tank in the greenhouse. This would entail considerable trouble in the average, and the amateur is therefore advised to keep to the hardy kinds for the small water garden.
As an alternative to the use of baskets for planting, beds of soil can be arranged at the bottom of a formal pool, or a good 6 in. depth of rich soil, including bone-meal, can be laid all over the bottom of the pool. If the method of making beds of soil is adopted, they are usually bricked round so as to keep the soil in place. The soil used is a very fibrous turfy loam enriched with bone-meal.
Water Lilies can even be planted by the simple method of tying them between a couple of turves and dropping them into the pond.
These are the plants whose roots are totally submerged, though they have floating leaves. Some are very decorative, as, for example, the water. Some are wholly submerged and are extremely useful as oxygenating . Some like to have their roots submerged, but grow best on the margins of ponds and streams. These all grow well in heavy meadow loam or turf, about 3 in. thick, in which the stems are inserted. Roots soon form and the plants then rapidly become established.
In addition to those plants which like their roots actually in the water, there are some which will grow in boggy soil at the waterside. These groups include many fine trees and shrubs as well asand flowering plants.