Gardening with Jill

Hi, and Welcome, as we bid Farewell to another year. It’s gone so quickly; or is it that I’m just getting older, and Time, like a jet plane, moves too fast?


GARDEN OR ART?

I’ve recently been watching Monty Don on tv, where he posed the question: ‘Garden or Art?’. He has been visiting France and the other night he was at Monet’s garden, and then went to see Monet’s painting of his waterlily pond. A few customers of late have asked about Water Plants, and whether I have them in stock. Unfortunately, I don’t carry them, but do get Water Lilly Corms when in season. I also have a Vietnamese Spinach called Kang Kong which grows well in water. I also discovered Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife Josephine’s love of Australian plants, and her deep love of Botany. If you Google ‘A Distant Affair’, a fact sheet on the Gardening Australia website by Jane Edmanson, you will discover Josephine’s love of all that we hold dear to our hearts, our garden.


WATER GARDENING

If you want to create a natural habitat alive with plants and animals, then include a pond. Visiting birds, fish, frogs and other animals will come to visit and drink from your pond.


BUILDING A POND

There are many forms but two of the easier ones are Tub and PVC Liner Ponds.

Tub garden: Use a large container such as a ceramic pot, wash tub or old barrel. A liner will be required for watertightness. If using a terracotta pot there is a great product called Knead It, which will fill the hole in the bottom of the terracotta pot, and also use a pot sealer. Just follow the directions and you will create a lovely bit of nature in your surroundings.

PVC Liner pond : This a cheap and easy form of construction, using a synthetic rubber or pvc liner. You can create any shape, size or depth of the pond. By adding rocks and gravel you are creating a nice natural look to your garden.

The location of these ponds is very important. A sunny position is required for water lilies to flower. Think about the wind and whether there are any deciduous trees or shrubs nearby. Water lilies do not like being near moving water, like a waterfall. The pond’s depth should be at least 400mm with shallow and deep spots to accommodate the smaller and larger aquatic plants.

Once the pond has been constructed and stocked with plants and fish you will notice the pond turning green. This is algae, a condition that is both inevitable and natural. So how do we handle this problem? This is a bit of a balancing act but is achievable. For each square metre of surface area, you should have two bunches of oxygenating grasses, one medium-to-arge water lily and two fish (like Pacific Blue eyes – they eat mosquito larvae - or Mountain Minnows). Once these plants are established the water will clear. Also, removing any bottom waste once a month will stop the pond from going stagnant. Now sit back and enjoy your achievement.


WATER LILY PLANTING

For best results, water lilies are to be planted directly into gravel in the bottom of the pond. Use 25mm of fertilised soil or cow manure, then cover with 75mm of very fine plasterers’ sand, which is then compacted down so the soil or manure cannot escape. Don’t use coarse sand. Plant the water lily corm in the compacted area then add 50mm of coarse sand or gravel around the corm, covering with the rest of the fine plasterers’ sand.


When the water lily is bought in a pot, transfer to a cut-down plastic rubbish bin or use a large black pot. Cover the drain holes with sand or gravel. Layer the pot as described above.

. 25mm of fertilised soil or cow manure

. 75mm of compacted fine sand

. Place water lily on top and wedge into place with coarse sand or gravel

You should repot your water lilies every year in late Winter or early Spring. If they are planted directly into your pond, you can make a parcel with a Chux towel, adding slow release fertiliser with a high nitrogen content, wrap, then push it into the gravel a few centimetres away from the corm and cover with gravel. Fertilising should be done in Spring and Summer. No further fertilising is required as the water lilies cease growing in the cooler months.


Continuing the French theme, I wish you and yours Joyeux Noel and bid you au revoir until next year.


- Jill




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