A day off among the rain to make progress on the pond. I dug more poles out of the pile and rearranged the far side’s structure, putting a larger pole more towards the front to act as the pond edge. It’s sat on an edging piece stolen from the bug hotel to keep it up and straight. I’m trying to avoid tiles being used or visible.

I’ve filled in the left and back with more soil, putting tiles against the back fence for support. One white mazus has gone in at the left front corner and the creeping jenny has gone in near the poles, with the aim of covering the liner that I don’t want to cut down any further. Along the front I’ve pinned hessian under the pole, so that soil along the front edge has something to hold onto. I’m thinking along the lines of a mixture of grass and other low-lying creeping plant. Quite possibly another creeping Jenny because I’ve read it barely needs soil.

The green slate looks good and is grey enough to merge well with the pebbles. The smaller stone has gone onto the left corner with stones, earth and plants around it. I’ve built up the back edge with more sand under the liner, so it’s high enough to not be flooded any more. I’ve put the big stone over there and used its flat side as a support for building up soil.

I’ve put bricks under the sweet flag to bring it up, but I’ll need to straighten it a bit when the water clears and I can see what I’m doing. The iris can go down to 60cm, so it’s just sat on the ledge and will hopefully show itself more in the spring.

Two purple loosestrife are on their way, to go in the far corner and halfway along the back ledge. A marsh marigold will go into earth I’ve built up by the big stone. That leaves me with another white mazus and a blue veronica. The white mazus could go in front of the middle back tile, and the veronica could go in the mound just by the big rock. I’m expecting the loosestrife to spread well, but I may do a very light sprinkle of poppy seeds on the banks too. I also have a beautiful piece of bark from the rec, which I want to place as a hidey hole – perhaps over the earth in the back corner.


Absolutely torrential rain last night, but the pond was all in place still and hadn’t collapsed, hippoed or been washed away. In fact the water had cleared nicely, to show that not too much Mum and I took the two bags of Scottish pebbles down to the plot and I opened one of them to let them be washed by the forthcoming rain.

I’ve put the sweet flag into the corner. It was a little floaty, so it could do with a pebble or two on it. Getting it into the corner was a little tricky, so doing the two far edges is going to be as big a challenge as I think. the two diagonal fenceposts are great for hanging on to though.

We took the boundary pole out of the ground and settled it back in on top of the plastic, with some hefty stamping.

In the afternoon there was another window of dry weather and so I went back to make a start on building berms. I dug the fencepost offcuts out from beside the shed and pulled out a couple of longer natural poles too. I cut a couple to size and used them all to make a basis for the berms, pinning down the liner as well as I could. A few staples have been used to both pin the liner and keep logs from rolling. I shovelled a mix of wet clay and soil onto the logs as a kind of mortar and planting basis.

The water level is very high due to the rain but it shows that the right end of the far side is a little low and water is coming up on there. I may well plant a creeping jenny there as a marginal / bog plant, but perhaps not in its pot, in a hessian holder.

I put a few pebbles on the beach to see how they looked and one immediately rolled into the depths. It’s a deep beach, at least at the moment, but I’ve got lots of pebbles, so I don’t think it’s a problem.


I’ve been watching the weather like a hawk as it’s so changeable at the minute. Today was my window to get the pond completely shaped, lined with sand and lined with plastic before the rain comes overnight.

I carved a little more off to make marginal shelves and better shape the beach. The water that had gathered in the bottom of the hole wasn’t too difficult to get rid off, mostly through digging a bit more clay out and using some of it as plaster.

Covering everything with a thick layer of sand was pretty easy, although it was difficult to know how even a layer I was making. I only used two and a half of my four bags, but  I think enough protection has been given.

We lined it with one layer of plastic. Two would have been too difficult due to all the folds in the plastic in such a little hole. I bought three paddlestones, two of which are helping to weigh the liner down. The other one is temporarily on the beach as an escape route.

The pond is now filled with water from the butts – and there’s more rain due tonight. How I’m going to deal with two banks I now can’t reach is going to be a challenge. I’ll also have to adapt my plans for planting and earthing up a little, but I haven’t worked out any of that yet. It won’t be as plant-heavy as I’d hoped as the edges are quite shallow, sloped and shiny now.

I picked the last few apples from the tree. We’ve had seven or so in total.


Renovations day!

Of course it turned out that the polycarbonate I’d had waiting for month wasn’t the right size at all, so the trip to Wickes included getting a big sheet of 2mm acrylic. Taking out the old one revealed a bee nest each end and a couple of dead bees.

John redesigned the window a bit and it’s now one sheet across, supported by the middle bar. Hopefully good and strong against stormy winds. The old windows were completely opaque, so having brand new acrylic makes it look like there’s no window there at all.

The water butts are now sorted. Of course they were all completely full from all the rain, so we had to do some strategic emptying and moving of water. The lid is back on the left hand butt and we have swapped the 3-part stand of the one on the right with the one that was under the single butt. That means that a bucket or watering can now fits under it properly.

The leak from the leaning single butt has made a bit of a dent in the shed wall, which could do with a lick of paint. It’s now standing straight on a bed of bricks on the 3-part stand.

The new door has a hasp and staple lock with a padlock as before, but it also has a new built-in lock. The key is stupidly big, so until I do something about that, it’s a matter of making sure I remember to take it with me.

I was able to do some gardening while John worked. I cleared weeds from this section behind the physostegia. Since it no longer grows up to the fence-line, I transplanted the waiting verbenas into the gap. Let’s see what new problem I’ve made for myself with them. They’d been waiting in a bucket of water since being dug up, but hadn’t suffered at all. In fact, they’d grown lots of new white roots.


After a couple of little niggly jobs, like cutting the grass back from my water butt slabs, I got on with digging the pond. I started using the spirit level and got the top edges even enough. The sand layer will straighten out any tiny discrepancies.

In order to know how deep and wide to make the  marginal shelf, I bought the first and main plants for the pond: Japanese sweet flag for the far corner; white magus for the front corner and front edge to help hide the liner; a yellow flag iris for the side, most likely to be joined by others in the bank; and a creeping jenny for the bank or shallow water.

The shape of the pond is almost done now. It’s deep enough in the middle, the shelves are the right depth, but I need to make more of a shelf at the front right hand side, so there’s room for a plant. I also need to check that the water level hits correctly from left to right.

I’ll test with a scrap of plastic to see how easily it fits into the shape I’ve made – the narrow deepest point particularly.


I went to mow this afternoon as it will pour with rain tomorrow afternoon. The frost that we’d had the night before last turned out to have killed off the zinnias, marigolds, nasturtiums and volunteer tomato. The mustard was untouched though.

So after a mow on 2, I pulled up all the frosted plants and cut them up for the compost bin. I did a handful of easy weeding in the newly empty areas and then sowed the mustard. The green manure project is almost done – some more could fit if the root vegetables clear a row (maybe the beetroot) but otherwise enough is covered. I just hope there’s still time for more germination although we’re halfway through October. It’ll be a bit warmer for the rest of the week, but still in the teens, not the twenties.

While chopping things up at the compost heap I spotted an ichneumon beast with an ovipositor meddling on my bee hotel (maybe Ephialtes manifestator). I documented it and then shooed it away.


I did the edging at last, which makes the plot look much nicer. In part because the grass was still dewy in the shaded areas, I did it in bits, mixed with other jobs. I made a small start on apple pruning, removing a few obvious overlaps, some canker and a couple of small dead branches. The canker is a new appearance this year. Two apples came home as they were on a long, hanging branch that’s now gone.

The first bit of weeding in the left border has now been done, but I realised I’m never going to win over the grass. So I added a length of the really old wavy edging to boundary from where the pond ends to where the physostegia no longer has a hole and is back against the fence. I pinned it in place and then built up the soil level a bit with pond soil. In the weeded gap along the fence I added a few verbena plants from the nursery.

Among all gradual tidying (the compost heap is heaving!) I pulled up the dead corn cockles and spread the remaining seed all along the back of the border. They’re attractive flowers and make good upright structure when they’re dead.

I did some more digging for the pond and have started to pile soil on Bed 1. I’ve gone about a foot down in the centre and have reached the clay subsoil, which is hideously hard. One good thing is that although I have an eye on not digging out what I shouldn’t (eg for shelves), I can tell from where I’ve stood on the shore that it’ll be possible to rebuild, mould and compact wherever needed.


There was another break-in early this morning. Nothing was taken, but they cut through the hasp rather than the padlock (which they took). The general expectation is that they could well return, so I’m taking my big tools and a few new hand tools back and forth for now. The door is in its tight shove mode, so is staying shut fine on its own.

We put the tomato supports away behind the shed (I shouldn’t have undone the cylinders) and I weeded Bed 6, meaning that the robin promptly arrived to help. That bed is now sown with mustard.

The earliest sown mustard is doing really well. It may or may not be sown too densely, but it doesn’t seem to mind so far. Later beds are gradually coming to life and I’m sowing spaces as they come free. The marigolds can all stay. When the frost kills them I might just leave them in place to rot more and be a habitat. I think it’s unlikely they’d self-sow.

Mum pulled down all the rest of the everlasting pea at the back and I chopped that up for the compost heap.

I weeded under the apple tree and only got my hair caught a few times. I added a thick layer of bark under the tree, leaving just a clump of foxgloves that need to be saved – possibly for the pond. All these foxglove volunteers that have appeared this autumn could be very helpful edging.

I added the newly purchased plants to the bug hotel: two pink phlox and a thyme, which should spread nicely over the top. Mum added a volunteer pansy she found to the pot and I added a volunteer foxglove. I also threw a few borage seeds into the corner to see if they’ll grow there behind the elder.

The trellis bed needs major attention, but there’s a stout toadflax that’s looking very nice on its second flowering. I must have cut it just the right way. So I need to not pull them all up!


Partly in order to house some of the earth from the pond excavations, I dismantled some of the bug hotel and rebuilt it as a planter. About halfway done it opened up into empty space I’d left, which meant much less work than expected. I poured in a few buckets of the dry earth and rebuilt the top, making it look much less lopsided. The mint will be back in the spring and meanwhile there’s lots of detritus on the ground for things to hide in.

I carried on digging, clearing a few more plants. The gladioli are getting ever closer to flowering, so they’re staying for the moment at least. They’d be quite pretty, but possibly a pain to work around.

I started digging down and deposited buckets and buckets of soil at the base of the helianthus, the mint and the elder. More will go at the back of the boundaries, but some weeding needs to be done first. I also carried a few buckets out to fill holes in the car park. More could help build up the low side of the track too, though it could do with being damper.