Spring is always a novel time for the British. We emerge from our houses into the half-light of a May afternoon and find our gardens changed. The cherub is still there, gazing lopsidedly from the rosebed, his fat cheeks obscured behind swathes of grass. Nettles waver insidiously at the base of your fence.
There is colour, flowerheads burgeoning brightly in the warmth, but there are weeds too, and grasses, the heart of the English countryside flourishing across your lawn.
A pond is the pride and joy of many a garden. Even from the other side of the lawn you can see yours, glistening blackly in the afternoon light. You have neglected it since autumn, except one morning when you threw a small stone through January ice, but life has returned to your garden and the pond is no exception.
It is time to cut back the bushes, mow the lawn, repave the patio and make your pond a beautiful place again. But where do you start?
Approaching your pond’s paved edges, you know it isn’t going to be easy. A person’s pond is private, a special place where fathers stand to watch their fish and mothers hover with bowls of coffee and children sit entranced by the dragonflies crawling out of their skins. Your garden is pruned, trimmed, kept in check with pliers and shears and the whirring blades beneath your mower, but ponds are different.
They host life, smells, sound, catch light in the evenings when the sun threatens to sink behind the house, dark but bright, like wet stones. So what can you do to make the most of your pond, without spoiling its natural appeal?
It should be noted that, while impressive pond denizens, fish do not cohabitate well with frogspawn or tadpoles in closed pond environments. Think carefully about which you would prefer, as frogspawn will not usually last long when there are hungry fish around.
Insects can also be beautiful. At first glance, you might not be particularly enamoured by the beetle near your foot, but closer inspection will reveal the kaleidoscope of colour shining across its shell. Kneel with your children while the dragonfly squirms out of its husk, light catching in its crystalline wings. Even the swarms of tiny flies dancing above the water can make a relaxing sight, last thing in the evening, with dusk fading behind them.
Embrace insect life for a more natural, authentic garden pond.
Spare a thought too for the plants that dip in and around your pond. You should find that your garden encroaches naturally on the water, helping to blur the line between the British wilds and the manicured flower beds that surround it.
Encroaching flora makes for excellent animal habitats, encouraging the frogs and birds that will really bring your pond to life.
If you can, fight the urge to decontaminate the water of dead leaves, branches and plant matter. Roots and branches are an excellent source of nutrients, helping to keep your pond water and its inhabitants healthy.
Leave them drifting across the surface or sinking into the depths for a more rustic, natural appearance.
It’s getting late now, the sun setting behind your shoulders. In a month or two, when the summer hits, you will be able to smell the pond, cool and vegetative in your nose.
A chorus of frogs might join you, and flies, small but not irritant, buzzing like an extension of the British wilds over the waters. It will not be the tamest aspect of your garden, but it will be the most beautiful, and the most lively, made up of sound and smells and captured light, even when the long summer days are almost spent.
So encourage pond life, and make the most of it, because it is our heritage and we are blessed with it here in England.
For more ways on how to improve your garden, get in touch with Minster Paving by calling 01865 300 252 or contacting us online.