Why Won’t It Grow?

With Spring in the air, the new stocks of pond plants will soon be appearing in the shops. On some occasion we have all obtained an interesting plant seen at a supplier, or following a description in a catalogue, book or online article. We’ve tried growing it ourselves and then been disappointed when it fails to flourish. Why won’t it grow?

This article looks into some of the reasons why a plant might fail and suggests how to get plants to flourish in future. Continue reading

How to protect your pondfish from Herons

The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) is one of the UK’s largest birds, standing short of a metre tall, and with a wingspan a little less than two metres. With their impressive beaks they seem almost Pterodactyl-like when seen in flight, and their distinctive, long and deep squawk just adds to that. You might miss seeing them, as they often visit ponds at first or last light. The only hint may be a discarded fine feather floating on the water… or the lack of fish! You are unlikely to lose all of your fish in one visit, though it may seem like that, as the remaining fish often keep a very low profile for some weeks or months afterwards. (If all the fish have gone, might it be otters?)

There are plenty of herons in the UK, possibly helped by the fact that they are a protected species. They usually roost in rural treetops but can travel long distances and are common visitors to city centre ponds. An adult heron needs up to half a kilogram of food a day, and they will persist to obtain it, be that fish, frogs, voles, insects or even young birds.

Ornamental ponds with brightly coloured carp and goldfish can be easy pickings for herons, especially in the cool of the spring and the winter when the fish are sluggish and plant cover is lacking.

I’m often asked how to stop herons taking fish. There are various options and this is my experience on how they stack up: Continue reading

Now Tweeting

We’ve added a Twitter account to keep followers updated on topical water gardening issues, and we’ll also use it to highlight any new items that we add here.

We promise not to overload you with tweets, so if you have a Twitter account and are interested in ponds, water gardens, ornamental fish and water features, please follow us.


The elusive hardy blue waterlily….

Nymphaea 'Purple Fantasy'

Nymphaea ‘Purple Fantasy’
(Pic: Tamara Kilbane)

Back in the late 1800s the only hardy waterlilies available were white or pink and very occasionally red. Then a Frenchman (Latour-Marliac) succeeded in hybridising waterlily species drawn from different parts of the world, and gave us yellows, more reds, and a cluster of copper-orange varieties. The garden world marvelled at the range, and Monet filled his ponds with the new varieties. Following Marliac’s death in 1911, the numbers of new varieties dropped to a trickle. No other hybridisers seemed to share quite the same knack of picking the right parent lilies to cross.

By the 1980s-90s new hybridisers had finally broken through this barrier, and a multitude of exciting new cultivars started to appear, including eyecatching new peach colours which are already popular with my customers… but no hardy blues.

It is only in the last five or so years that successful crosses between hardy lilies and tropical blue lilies have been made Continue reading

Spring has Sprung… at last!

After the coldest March for fifty years, temperatures are finally rising. Gardens seem to have been in suspended animation for months, but are now awakening.

In the pond too, things have been slow to get going. In many cases frogs have only just started to spawn in the last week – a month later than usual (and a full eight weeks later than the mild spring of 2007).

Now is the time to check that your pumps and filters are functioning correctly Continue reading

The Facts on Phosphate

Do you have persistent problems with blanketweed or duckweed in your pond? Phosphate (a form of phosphorus) found in fish food and tap water may be the problem.

Phosphorus is an essential element for life. Usually it is bound with oxygen and other minerals to form phosphates. It is also found in animal bones (calcium phosphate).

High levels of phosphate in ponds are a major cause of green water and blanketweed problems, and can also cause nuisance levels of duckweed. Continue reading

Water Garden Solutions News

Welcome to this new section of our website.

As time goes on we hope to bring you

  • Timely hints and tips for your water garden or feature
  • Related news, comments, and technical advice
  • Inspirational design and planting ideas

Updates are likely to be infrequent, but we hope that you will enjoy reading them.

James Allison