Well, this summer solstice I spent four and a half hours in the garden and it was wonderful. I took care of several of the little tasks that keep getting put off, plus a couple major ones.
One of those major tasks was filling and stocking the new large tub pond. We actually had a bit of rain last night; wish it were more, but beggars can’t be choosers. But it was enough to fill a couple of the rainbarrels, so I had enough water to start filling the pond. This in turn meant I could take the plants out of the smaller tub ponds and containers scattered about the place and rehome them.
…I seriously never realised how many water plants I have. I must be crazy.
I got a lovely surprise from one of the tubs, however. Well, actually, it was rather an ugly surprise, but it was nice. This tub had only a miniature water lily (Nymphaea cv.) in it, plus a bit of bladderwort (Utricularia gibba) to control the mosquitoes. It’s only about fourteen inches deep. When I raked my fingers through the muck that had accumulated at the bottom, I got the shock of the day to find a dragonfly larva. I went and got a sieve and ended up finding five larvae (plus one dead). I have no idea what the critters were feeding on – dragonfly larvae are carnivorous and prey on other aquatic insects, crustaceans, tadpoles, and even small fish.
Anyway, I rehoused them in the big tub, and when the water in the smaller tubs settles, I’ll add it as well – it will contain all the pelagic fauna that makes a balanced pond ecosystem and helps control algae, the pondkeeper’s nightmare. When most of the water is out, I’ll have a hunt for more benthic fauna.
I also found NO mosquito larvae. People look skeptical when I tell them that since starting to keep these pond tubs, I actually get bitten by mosquitoes less. The fact is that yes, standing water attracts mosquitoes, but it also attracts dragonflies, especially with vegetation around. A dragonfly can eat over fifty mosquitoes in a day, plus other meals, and dragonflies have an estimated 95% success rate at hunting. This makes them one of the best predators in the world. And happily, at least one dragonfly has claimed my garden as its territory.
I think I’ll get a board or something and balance it on one corner of the big tub (it’s rectangular) and put a few of the carnivorous plants on it. It would help complete the look, as many carnivorous plants are bog species.
So you could say I spent a summer day splashing about in water. How nice.