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Thursday, 26 September 2013

A wildlife pond and Winter Bullrushes

“Never cut a tree down in the winter time. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” 
- Robert H. Schuller 

 A watercolour sketch of the Bullrushes at my pond a couple of winters ago.

I absolutely LOVE Bullrushes (Typha typhaceae) and used to have them growing at my pond until I discovered how quickly they take over an area, killing everything in their path. I also used to cut the velvety flowering spikes to arrange in a vase, absolutely gorgeous!, also only until I discovered that, when they're ripe and ready to disperse their seeds, the velvety spike would burst open, covering the house with bundles of dense, cottony fluff! Only the female flower does this, the male withers and dies once it has dispersed its pollen. (Some interesting information : the dense cottony fluff was used for stuffing Futons in Japan before the advent of cotton.)

My wildlife pond is looking extremely dull after this winter, even though it was very mild. All the water lilies are gone, the Pontederia has died down and all the Red Hot Pokers have finished flowering. The Buddleia salvifolia (butterfly bushes) at the back of the pond are sparse and leafless and the only green around is the Kei Apple, which has also finished fruiting.

The Wild Olive (Olea africana) behind the waterfall provides some greenery throughout winter

 My Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia) with their last flowers. I transplanted these from a shady corner last summer and because they get enough water when the pond over-flows, they have grown extremely well.

The fountain at my pond 

The waterfall in the back-ground 

Having a pond in your garden has quite a few benefits. It attracts lots of wildlife and many water-loving birds are nesting in the trees surrounding my pond - Red-headed Finches, Wydah's, Weavers and Bronze Mannekins are but a few. When I built the pond, I created quite a few shallow bathing areas for the birds, which is constantly in use. And there is nothing more soothing than the sound of running water and frogs croaking at night! 

Bronze Mannekins will make use of any available water!I have these little fellas nesting in the Butterfly bushes and in the Wild Olive (Olea Africana) behind my pond and what a racket they can make! Music to my ears! Unfortunately I don't have my own photograph of them as they are busy, busy, busy little bodies and much too fast for my photographic skills!

The Redheaded Finches, on the other hand, are a different matter. They will calmly sit and watch me as I take photographs or do some sketches. This is a Journal sketch I did when the Red-headed Finches started moving into the pond area in 2009.


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