May

Bluebells in the copse

Bluebells in the copse

Gunnera by the pond

Gunnera by the pond

Lots of blue in the garden this spring. Masses of forget-me-knots have seeded all around, especially in the bed beneath the ash trees by the pond and the bluebells are spreading nicely in the copse, following on after the snowdrops. They do well under the Motley holm oak and go well with the foxgloves and various primula I planted nearby. The meadow is full of cowslips and cow parsley now as the fritillaries fade and set seed.

The gunnera have come through the winter in fine form. They are  thriving by the pond. The small pieces we transplanted two years ago have quickly caught up with the three plants bought from a nursery in 2010. All are now pushing up large flowering spikes. Last year I took a picture of ER standing underneath the leaves, looks like this year they may be even taller.

 

Toddlers and ponds

Now comes the great drawback of a lovely pond – small children. The six and 9 year olds can swim like fish and will love to fall in, accidentally on purpose. Toddlers are a nightmare because of the ground they can cover in a few seconds. We decided to fence off the pond from the rest of the garden, but to do it in a way that would allow rapid installation and removal, before and after visits from the grandchildren.

A section of the chicken-wire fence.

A section of the chicken-wire fence.

The materials and equipment were a 50 metre roll of 3 foot high chicken wire (cost £47), a dozen 4 foot fence stakes at £2 each, staples and a hammer.

Driving the posts a foot into the ground was enough to make the fence strong enough for small children, but easily removable. The chicken wire was stapled to the posts, which were about 6 feet apart, and where there were trees near the pond edge, it was stapled to their trunks instead. The staples were not driven home fully, so they could be pulled out again easily. A rough and ready sliding gate was made at one end, using a 4 foot by 3 foot rectangle of old plywood between two posts, to give access to the pond (though adults could just about step over the fence anyway).

To put it away, the wire is unstapled from the trees and the fence is rolled up with its posts and stacked at the end of the garden. This was made easier by building it in three more manageable sections.

What killed the carp?

Found the remains of a large carp on the bank of the pond, with a trail of scales and fins from the water. Where was it from and what ate it? The first question we solved but the second is still puzzling.

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The fish was at least 30 cm, more likely 40, judging by the head and the other uneaten parts. The carp that found their way into our pond from the next door (we are linked by a reedbed) were tiddlers by comparison.

But our neighbour later came round to inspect it and revealed he had recently put a 15 year old specimen from his fish tank into his pond. It seems to have jumped the barrier between us, or been dragged over by whatever caught it.20140110-235224.jpg

The fish seemed almost too big for a heron, and in any case it had been eaten by something with a bite, while herons swallow whole. An otter? But the stream across the road from the garden is tiny and seasonal. Perhaps a cat? It would have needed a ferocious swipe of the paw to hook out that size of fish – tiger not tabby. Our bet is that the fish jumped and accidentally landed on the bank, where a cat or a fox found it.