Water Garden Calendar and Pond Care For Autumn
On this webpage where months are referred to I mean those relating to conditions in the Northern Hemisphere climates. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere the seasonal conditions can be treated similarly but you obviously must change to the appropriate month when thinking in terms of weather. Consider these links
Autumn is considered to start in September in the UK and USA and to continue through until end October.
SEPTEMBERyou make an incorrect change.
Now September is a time for clearing off decaying vegetation. Some of the marginals could have been cut back to one third and may have flowered again.
Koi keepers want to be feeding fish with good quality food to build them up for the winter.
You can collect offcuts from the plants if you want to propagate them. Just pull them off or cut them neatly as they emerge from a basket. If they have developed root hairs then they will be guaranteed to establish in any good heavy loam set in a well-drained pot sitting in about 2inches, 5cm of water.
It may be time to replace tired and overgrown plants in the marginal baskets next month, so these will be a useful replacement.
Lilies should be the main attraction now along with the Fringe lily, Nymphoides peltata. A few bog plants like the Ligularias, the Lobelias and Astilbes may be putting on a show. This is when the robust foliage plants like the Hostas, Rodgersias,Rheums, Peltiphyllum and Petasites come into their own.
OCTOBERyou make an incorrect change.
This is probably the most important month in the UK for keeping on top of things water garden and gardening wise, so what should be done? It will be getting noticeably colder by the day and leaves will have been falling for some time. Dry weather means an earlier fall than normal, therefore for ponds surrounded by trees the leaf nets should come out in September. For those ponds too big to be netted, a bit of netting off the surface and a bit of investigative dredging all helps to delay the day of a big clear out. Of course if the smell and the evidence on the dredging is that that day has now arrived then this is probably one of the most opportune moments to clear out as long as it stays mild that is.
If the marginal plants in the baskets dont look too over grown you can trim off the adventitious growth poking out the sides and try growing these on in separate containers, either to replace your old stock at a later date or as a present for someone. Any serious replanting can be left till spring.
If you are going to do a big clear out, dont leaves it to late otherwise all the frogs in the bottom of the pool will resent the upheaval and the plants, particularly the oxygenators, wont get settled in properly before it gets seriously cold. Also if you contemplate a big clearout, if the water is good, save as much of it as possible. Keep any fish or good beasties in it until then operation is complete.
Netting the pool or pond may be a bit difficult if the marginals are still at full height, so this is the time to cut them back. Wild life and conservation pool owners usually prefer to leave the growth of poolside plants as cover for the wildlife toing and froing. A further quandary for fish keepers is that, although the tall poolside fronds of grasses and reeds waving in the autumn gales look attractive, they are also the perfect cover for herons. There is a perfectly acceptable compromise, however, cut the plants back to one third. This is good gardening practice because it means that those plants that were setting seed now divert their energies into food storage for next year. It reduces any risk of disease or over-wintering of pests, but also of course it diminishes the spray of unwanted seed all over the pool and garden. For instance did you know that there are between 175,000 and a quarter of a million viable seeds in your average Cats Tail/Reed Mace/Typha latifolia seed head and every teeny weeny little flower on a Water Plantian produces something like 40 or 50 seeds, which adds up to a quite a few thousand for every inflorescence stem.
With the plants cut back to one third, they make quite useful support and grip for the net.
As the temperature starts to approach 10C feed the fish less and less. Koi need only have special high protein winter food or wheat germ. This is more easily digestible. At 7C cease feeding altogether. They may still take food, by force of habit, but it wont be digested, only sit in their gut for the rest of the winter. Any uneaten food remains a time bomb of pollution ready to be set off in the spring as it begins to warm up and when the fish are at their lowest ebb.
Back to plants. Any soppy frost tender plants need to be rescued. You can plant up water hyacinths into soil and keep them in a frost-free greenhouse. Water Chestnuts and Frogbit need to be saved in their little nut form, particularly important to watch out for if you are having a bit of a cleanout. Any fancy frost tender lilies, like the Lotus, need rescuing too.
If you have seriously been considering building another pool, a waterfall, stream or such like, now is the time to get it done. Plan it and do it in one great swoop and you will have forgotten the pain of it by Christmas and all the evidence of the turmoil will be gone by spring. So what about it? This is the season for sorting. After Christmas, forget it. It all becomes a bit too much effort then until we are kissed by the faint, fair flickers of spring.
article supplied by Peter J May
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