FAQ

  • What is your delivery charge?
  • How long will my order take to arrive?
  • How will my order come?
  • Can I alter my order?
  • Can I collect my order from you?
  • Can I buy plants from you if I live in Northern Ireland?
  • Do you deliver outside the UK?
  • Something else I wanted has just come into stock. Can I add it to my order?
  • What is your returns policy?
  • How do I recycle your packaging?
  • What does "Partial Shade", "Full Sun" etc mean on the plant labels with my order?
  • Where do your plants come from?
  • How large are your plants?
  • I asked to be told when a plant was back in stock. I can see it's in stock but I haven't been notified?
  • Do you use any pesticides?
  • Do you use peat?
  • How many plants do I need for my pond?
  • How do I choose what plants to have?
  • When is the best time to add plants to my pond?
  • How do I choose soil and pots for my pond plants?
  • What if I don't want to pot my plant but want to put it directly into the ground?
  • Which pond plants are suitable for shade?
  • Are there any plants that are suitable for ponds with ducks?
  • Can I have pond plants in with my koi?
  • Which British native plants would you recommend for a wildlife pond?
  • How do I hide the edge of my pond, or the edges of my pots?
  • My pond has gone green - is this normal?

Ordering and delivery

What is your delivery charge?

Delivery is £9.95 or free over £60 for all orders within the UK and the Channel Islands. 

How long will my order take to arrive?

All items should arrive within a week to ten days of your placing the order. If we are very busy and it may take longer than ten days for the parcel to arrive, there will be a pop-up box that appears when you view your basket, informing you of the maximum time it will take. 

We will send you an email when your parcel is dispatched so that you know when to expect it. 

How will my order come?

Lightweight parcels will usually be sent by Royal Mail next day (First Class or Tracked 24) and will come via your regular postie. Larger orders will usually be sent by overnight courier; we use APC Overnight fragile service, or sometimes ParcelForce. If you are not in, parcels delivered by Royal Mail will be left in whichever usual place you have agreed with your postie. If you are not in when a parcel is delivered by courier, the driver has been asked to leave the plants in any safe and shady place. If you have any specific instructions about your parcel, there is a box at the beginning of our website checkout where you can enter details. 

Orders going to the Highlands and Scottish islands, the Channel Islands, or other offshore islands, will usually arrive by Royal Mail whatever their size, since courier services to these areas are slower and much more expensive.

Your dispatch email will tell you which service was used to send your parcel. If you need to know before you order how your parcel is likely to arrive, contact us and we can help you. 

Can I alter my order?

If you need to alter your order, this can be done at any time up until you receive the "Your order has been dispatched" email. Just contact us as soon as you can and we will arrange it. 

Can I collect my order from you?

Unfortunately not. For legal reasons (insurance and planning) we cannot allow members of the public to visit the nursery.  

Can I buy plants from you if I live in Northern Ireland?

Unfortunately not. Due to the provisions of the Brexit agreement, it is no longer practical to send orders containing live plants to Northern Ireland. 

The full details are as follows; to send live plants to Northern Ireland, they would have to be removed from their pots and the soil washed off. Then we would have to book a visit from a plant health inspector to check them and issue a Phytosanitary Certificate to certify that they are free of pests and diseases. This might involve laboratory testing. Then we would have to notify the plant health authorities at the destination port in Northern Ireland five days before we plan to send them. Then they may be held up at the destination while checks are made - aquatic plants are generally more delicate than garden plants, and delays would cause them to deteriorate.

While some costs can be reclaimed from the UK government, the time involved and the risk of damage to the plants means that, regrettably, it is not practical to send individual orders to Northern Ireland any more.

Do you deliver outside the UK?

No, we do not deliver any plants outside the UK, except to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

We previously sent to the EU, but due to Brexit, from 2021 sending plants to the EU became the same as sending to any other country outside the UK, i.e. each time it requires contacting the plant health authorities, applying for certificates, and possibly arranging laboratory testing of the plants. The plants may also be held up in customs in the destination country. These processes make it impractically costly and time consuming for small nurseries to send plants abroad now. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are covered by UK regulations, so we can still send to these places. 

Something else I wanted has just come into stock. Can I add it to my order?

Yes of course - just send us a quick email. Please include either your surname or your order number, so we know who you are, and say exactly what you would like to add to your order. We will send you a special invoice for the plants you want with free postage, which you can pay through the website checkout. Then we will combine the two orders in one parcel. 

What is your returns policy?

If you simply change your mind you may cancel your purchase at any time from when you place the order up until 14 calendar days from the day you receive the goods, without giving any reason. If you do wish to cancel, please notify us by email or phone, or fill out and submit our contact form. You can find a link to our contact details towards the bottom of every page on this website. We will acknowledge receipt of your cancellation without delay. 

In this case, if you have already received the plants, please unpack them and follow the care instructions on the sheet that is with them, such as standing in a tray of water, until the return can be arranged. If you have simply changed your mind, we would usually expect you to pay the return costs, and to return the items to the address below within 14 days from the day of cancelling. If you are unsure about how to return them, just ask us. A full refund of the amount you originally paid will be issued as soon as possible and in any case not later than 14 days from the day we receive the goods back, or 14 days from the day you provide evidence that you posted them. We will make the refund using the same means of payment as you used for the initial transaction. 

If you change your mind before you receive the plants but after they have been dispatched, please contact us as soon as you can so that we can arrange to retrieve them.

If anything you have ordered is damaged or faulty in any way when it arrives, please let us know as soon as you can and we will make sure a replacement is sorted out for you.

How do I recycle your packaging?

The outer boxes and all newspaper, white paper, and brown paper can be recycled in the normal way.  
The brown parcel tape and clear sticky tape are biodegradable but not home compostable. They should be placed in the general rubbish bin.
Any cling film is made from corn starch and is biodegradable. It can be home composted or put in the general rubbish bin. 
All plant bags are carrier bag plastic and can be recycled - check local facilities.
Any plastic tubs are food grade and should be easily recyclable - check local facilities.
Any rubber bands are natural rubber and should be placed in the general rubbish bin.
Any wooden supports are made from bamboo sticks and should be placed in the general rubbish bin.
The self-adhesive sticky labels and any bubble wrap used are unfortunately not recyclable or biodegradable and should be placed in the general rubbish bin. 

Any plant pots that are black are not recyclable and should be re-used or placed in the general rubbish bin. (We do not buy these pots any more but we will continue to wash and re-use them until they are all gone). Any plant pots that are grey are recyclable and should be re-used or washed and placed in household plastic recycling. 

All our newspapers, brown paper, and bubble wrap are sourced second hand to help reduce waste. We welcome suggestions on how to make our packaging more environmentally friendly.

What does "Partial Shade", "Full Sun" etc mean on the plant labels with my order?

On the labels we send with your plants, you will see advice about the amount of sun or shade that the plant will do best in. This is what we mean by each term:

"Full Sun" - this means a spot where the plant will be in full sun all day.

"Partial Sun" - this means a spot where the plant will be in sun some of the time and in shade some of the time, but overall more sun than shade.

"Partial Shade" - this means a spot where the plant will be in sun some of the time and in shade some of the time, but overall more shade than sun.

"Full Shade" - this means a spot where the plant will be in full shade all day. 

"Deep Shade" - this means a spot where the plant will be not just in full shade all day with no direct light, but in a spot where there is very little light at all.

"Dappled Shade" - this means a spot under or near deciduous trees, where the plant will receive quite a lot of light in spring, and then dappled light for the rest of the year once the trees' leaves are out. 

 

 

About our plants

Where do your plants come from?

100% of the plants we sell are propagated personally by us from our own stock plants here at the nursery in Norfolk. All are raised from seeds or cuttings/divisions. We never buy in plants grown by someone else and sell them on, because it cannot be guaranteed that these will be true to name or free from invasive species. All our plants are thus British-grown specimens, so they are already adapted to our climate when you receive them.

How large are your plants?

Our plants are usually supplied as established potted plants in 9cm or 11cm (1 litre) solid pots. The exact pot size depends on the plant's growth needs - compact plants will be in smaller pots and plants that need more space will be in larger pots. These are the pots that we grow them in at the nursery. 

Some of our plants are supplied bare root if they are difficult to supply as potted specimens. This will generally be because they have widespread creeping roots or because they overwinter as a bulb or floating rhizome. Sometimes it is simply to offer a lower-cost alternative to potted plants.

It will say on each plant's page on our website how it will arrive, and if you have a choice between potted and bare root. 

I asked to be told when a plant was back in stock. I can see it's in stock but I haven't been notified?

Because we produce all our plants from scratch ourselves, they are often available in limited quantities. If we have more people on the list to be notified than we have plants available, we will contact some of the people on the list but not all, starting with those that asked first. After giving them some time to purchase, we will then continue contacting the people in turn until the plants have sold out. This helps avoid people being told that a plant is back in stock and that they can buy it, and then finding that they can't.  

Alternatively, we may have tried to notify you but your spam filter may have rejected the email. 

Do you use any pesticides?

No, we do not use any chemical pesticides or sprays on our plants. Large pests, such as snails and caterpillars, are hand picked, and small pests, such as beetles and aphids, are rinsed off with water or sprayed with vegetable oil sprays. We occasionally also use natural (biological) controls, e.g. purchasing native ladybirds from specialist suppliers and releasing them on plants affected by aphids.

Do you use peat?

No, we do not buy or use composts/soils containing peat. We are a completely peat-free nursery.

General plant care questions

How many plants do I need for my pond?

For a pleasing look, aim to have one-third to two-thirds of the water surface covered by oxygenating plants and plants with floating leaves such as waterlilies, and the rest clear. Aim to have marginal plants around one-third to two-thirds of the pond edge, and the rest open. This rule is also optimum for keeping fish, which do not like either completely bare ponds, or completely covered ponds. 

Pick the plants you would like, then work out how many feet of water surface or of pond edge you want to cover. On each plant's page on our website, we suggest an approximate planting density. This density should give you a nice look for that area in two to three years. From this you can work out how many of each plant you would need. (Please remember that planting densities are just a guide, and growth rates will vary depending on how sunny or deep your pond is, what soil you use, where you are in the UK, what varieties of plant you choose, and especially on the size of pot you use). For most people, budget will be the main limiting factor in how many plants they buy when setting up their pond. Don't forget to allow in the budget for any pots or soil that you might need. 

How do I choose what plants to have?

Consider choosing plants that give different colour flowers and/or flowers at different times of the year (Marsh Marigolds for yellow flowers in spring, Loosestrife for pink flowers in early summer, Pickerel Plant for blue flowers in late summer etc). Foliage is also important – try to choose one or two things that are evergreen, such as Japanese Rush, or Horsetail, so that the pond has some winter interest. For a balanced look, choose both tall slender plants and low bushy plants. If you are trying to hide the edge of the pond, choose plants with creeping stems and a scrambling habit, such as Water SpeedwellMarsh Pennywort, or Water Mint. These grow in wet soil and shallow water and also 'raft' out onto the surface of deeper water, covering it. They can also be used as underplanting (planted around the base of taller plants) to hide the edges of pots (but do thin them out if they begin to swamp the taller plant). Plant heights, flower colour and flowering times are all given on this website on each plant's page.

Around the edge of the pond, aim to have a mix of taller and shorter marginal plants. Don't space plants evenly around the edge, as this won't look natural - plant in clumps. For larger ponds, you can buy several of the same plant and place together in one larger pot.

If you want to use plants to encourage wildlife, the single most important thing is to choose plants from each category so that you have a range of habitats within the pond - plants with underwater foliage, such as oxygenating plants, plants with floating leaves, and marginal plants around the edge. It is also helpful to emphasise British native plants, as they are overall more likely to be useful to our local wildlife. If you specifically want to encourage dragonflies and damselflies, make sure you have some marginal plants with tall stems that the larvae can crawl up as they emerge from the pond before flying away. If you are interested in butterflies and bees, try to choose plants that are on the RHS 'Perfect For Pollinators' list, such as Loosestrife or Water Forget-Me-Not. For frogs, toads, small mammals, and birds, try to place some of your marginal plants and marsh plants around the pond’s edge in such a way that it blends with the vegetation of rest of the garden, to give cover so that small animals can enter or leave the pond without coming out into the open.

The majority of pond plants like a position that is sunny to partial shade. If you plant them in deeper shade, they will usually survive but will not flower well or at all. If you have an area of deeper shade, consider non-flowering plants such as grasses or ferns like Japanese Rush, or Horsetail. Creeping plants such as Marsh PennywortWater Speedwell, and Water Mint, will produce nice-looking foliage in shade even if they don't flower. Oxygenating plants will also grow in shade, albeit more slowly.  

When is the best time to add plants to my pond?

You can plant up your pond at any time of the year. The optimum time for most potted pond plants is late winter/early spring, as this means that they go in their new pots with fresh soil and food just before they start to grow, so they get the most benefit from this. However, this is preferable, not essential, and it also depends on what qualities you have chosen the plant for. For example, if you have chosen a plant which flowers in very early spring, it may be better to get it planted up and established the previous autumn so that it is not moved and trimmed while the flowers are forming. Or if you are planting a natural pond with a soil bottom, it will be pleasanter to plant, and the plants will establish faster, if you plant in late summer or early autumn when the soil and water are warm.

Floating plants are not usually available in the winter as they disappear down to small buds or shoots on the bottom of the pond and we don't sell them as we think people might be disappointed with how they look. If you want these plants, you will usually have to buy them between April and September.

With the exception of frost-tender plants (which we protect under deep water or in an unheated polytunnel until the last frost) all of our plants are used to living outside in the British climate. They can all be put into your pond at any time of the year. This includes the frost-tender ones, provided that you adhere to the planting depth on the label. 

How do I choose soil and pots for my pond plants?

Pots: Pond plants are traditionally potted in open-mesh aquatic baskets, and we would recommend that you use these if you can. These allow the plant's roots to escape the pot and spread right out into the pond water. Plants generally grow much better in them because they are less confined, and will last longer before needing re-potting. If you can't find or afford aquatic baskets, you can use normal plastic garden pots (those with solid sides and the holes in the bottom) like any other potted plant. These have the advantage of being low cost, readily available, and easier to remove when the time comes to re-pot (it is often difficult to disentangle plant roots from the mesh of an aquatic basket). However, because solid pots do strongly restrict the plant's roots, make sure that you choose a good large pot and re-pot the plant at least once a year. 

Do ensure that whatever pot you choose gives your plant enough room. Most aquatic plants like a large space to spread their roots out (more than garden plants do), and will not perform or flower well in small or cramped pots. Small marginal plants, oxygenators, and miniature waterlilies can be started in pots of around 1 litre capacity, while larger marginal plants and other waterlilies are best started in pots of 2 to 5 litre capacity. You can find specific information on recommended pot size on each plant's page on our website. For best results we would advise that they are then re-potted or divided every two years, or at least every three years. 

We generally recommend that each variety of plant is potted individually, so that they are not competing for space in one basket - they will never grow at exactly the same rate. If you do want to do a mixed pot, check it at least once or twice in the growing season to see how the plants are getting on together and if one is starving or smothering another. 

Liners: Modern open-mesh aquatic baskets have fine mesh and do not usually require a hessian liner to hold the soil in. If you firm the soil down well and place it in the pond carefully, the soil will generally stay in place. However, if you are using fine powdery or sandy soil, have disturbance from fish or from flowing water, or are using an old-fashioned large-mesh basket, it would probably be a good idea to use a hessian liner. Either way it is helpful to line the mesh basket with some newspaper to make it easier to keep the soil in while actually potting up. Likewise, if using solid garden pots, it's best to line the large drainage holes at the bottom with paper. 

An alternative to pots and liners is to use aquatic planting bags or planting socks – these are flexible, permeable, fine-mesh bags, generally made out of woven plastic, which will not leach soil out and which can be fitted into awkward, uneven, or shallow places and rolled down to reduce size. They do restrict roots but less than solid pots do, because of their permeability.  Another alternative is to shape your own planting bags out of hessian squares. These are fully bio-degradable, but this also means that they will eventually disintegrate in the pond, probably before the plant needs re-potting. Finally, for ponds without shelves you can buy overhanging mats - mats of woven plastic or hessian which are pegged to the bank of the pond and hang down into it. Marginal plants, with soil, are placed in pockets in the mat. 

Soil: Pot the plant in a heavy, loamy soil. This is a soil which is composed of  sand, silt and clay, rather than being a peat-based soil (which will tend to float and is not nourishing enough for water plants in the long term). Soils like this will usually look brown rather than black. If you are potting waterlilies or deep-water plants such as Orontiums, these like an even heavier soil, such as a heavy clay with around 30% clay content. Special aquatic soil is available in most garden centres and this is a good compromise for all pond plants. Alternatively, normal garden soil from somewhere like a flowerbed, that has been raked or sieved to make it workable, can be used. Do not use standard potting compost or any garden soil that has recently been fertilised, as this can cause excessive algae and/or green water in the pond.

Fertiliser: It is best to use special slow-release aquatic plant fertiliser, as standard plant fertilisers will quickly dissolve and leach out into pond water. There are no hard-and-fast rules about fertilising pond plants, as it depends on the type of plant and on the soil used. As a guide, if potting a plant in fresh shop-bought aquatic soil and a nice large pot, it will not usually need added fertiliser. If potting it in poor, sandy soil or a pot that's on the small side, consider adding fertiliser, especially if it is a heavy-feeding plant such as a waterlily. 

If you do not intend to re-pot the plant that year and it is a heavy-feeding plant such as a waterlily, we would advise that you fertilise it once, ideally in spring. You can fertilise a plant without re-potting it, if you don't mind getting dirty hands, by pushing a slow-release fertiliser tablet down into the soil until it is around the plant's roots.

What if I don't want to pot my plant but want to put it directly into the ground?

If you are planting a bog garden, if you have put soil on the base of your pond, or if you are lucky enough to have a natural pond, you can simply plant your plant straight into the ground as you would any garden plant. Most pond plants appreciate plenty of room for their roots, and will grow well when planted out like this. In this case, if the area is above water, prepare the soil by digging it over and removing any weeds that might compete with your plants. If the area is under water, clear away any weeds, leaves or other debris, but there is no need to dig the soil over. Then simply use a spade or trowel to dig a hole where you want the plant to grow, deep enough and wide enough to comfortably accommodate the whole of the roots. Place the plant in this hole; if it is a bare-root plant, spread its roots out with your hand. Hold the plant around its root ball or, for bare-root plants, at the base of the growing point (the growing point is the bit where the shoots and leaves emerge, also called the crown) and carefully fill the hole with soil, firming it up as you go. Make sure the plant’s growing point is just above the soil level when you have finished. Gently firm the last of the soil back down with your hand or the heel of your foot. If your natural soil is very poor, consider filling the hole back in with shop-bought aquatic soil rather than your own soil – this gives the plant a pocket of better soil to help it establish.

Occasionally, you may want to grow plants directly in the ground in an area under water too deep, or too far from the bank, to easily dig a hole. In this case, you can place the plant in a ‘bag’ made from a square of hessian, together with some soil if necessary, and a few medium-sized stones as a weight. Draw together the ends of the hessian to create the ‘bag’ and tie them loosely with biodegradable string so that the stems of the crown are emerging from the top. Drop the bag into the water where you want the plant to be, making sure it will not be too deep for the plant to thrive. Keep an eye out to ensure the plants are not disturbed by fish or water birds while they gradually root into the pond.

The label included with the plant will specify a minimum and maximum water depth; the plant will grow best at the shallowest end of this range, as it will get the most light. Similarly, remember that most flowering pond plants will flower best when placed in a sunny spot.

If the weather is hot when the plant is first planted up and it begins to wilt, simply trim the wilting foliage back. This will not harm the plant.

Which pond plants are suitable for shade?

The majority of pond plants like a position that is sunny to partial shade. If you plant them in shade, they will usually survive but will not flower well or at all.

If you have an area of shade, consider non-flowering plants such as grasses or ferns like Japanese Rush, Corkscrew Rush, or Water Horsetail - they will tolerate fairly deep shade and their evergreen foliage actually looks better when grown in a sheltered location. Ivy-Leaved Duckweed is a floating plant which does extremely well even in deep shade, and in this situation will look fresher and cleaner than it does in sun. Creeping plants such as Marsh PennywortWater Speedwell, and Water Mint, will generally produce nice-looking foliage in shade even if they don't flower. Oxygenating plants will also grow in shade, albeit more slowly. If your shade is due to tree cover and is absent in the spring, Marsh Marigolds, a spring-flowering plant, are a good choice. Apart from these, it may simply be a case of experimenting until you find what works in your location.

Plants to avoid if you have a shady pond would be waterlilies (consider Water Hawthorns instead), water irises (unless you don't mind their not flowering), and cottongrasses.

Are there any plants that are suitable for ponds with ducks?

Unfortunately ducks are one of the worst things when it comes to pond plants, because they physically dig and uproot vegetation. If you are planting a pond visited by ducks, we would suggest trying larger marginal plants, placed around the edge of the water. Examples would be the native iris species, Iris pseudacorus and its cultivars such as the variegated or double types, Iris pseudacorus 'Variegata' and Iris pseudacorus 'Flore Pleno'. Also things with tough fibrous leaves or stems such as Sweet Galingale (Cyperus longus), Golden Sedge (Carex elata 'Aurea'), native Horsetail, Equisetum hyemale, and purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria

You can try adding softer plants and underwater plants such as oxygenators, because every situation is different and animals are unpredictable. However, be aware that it is a gamble and that there is a good chance of loosing these to the ducks at some point, so perhaps don't spend too much money on them.

Whichever plants you choose, we would suggest putting chicken wire or something similar around them when they are small and new, in order to enable them to get established. 

 

Can I have pond plants in with my koi?

Due to their large size and love of rooting about in the soil, it is not usually possible to have pond plants in with koi. But if you have a koi pond and do want to see plants, there are a number of ways to get around this.

Firstly, you can simply have an area of the pond that the koi don't have access to. This can be by creating very shallow shelves, too shallow for adult koi to swim in, or having a smaller pond linked to the koi pond, perhaps as a header pool. (An extension of this idea is the vegetable filter, where the flow of water from the pond pump is diverted through a container of pond plants before returning to the pond). Finally you can simply use nylon mesh just under the water surface to segregate an area and deny the koi access to it (but be aware that koi jump and will need to be retrieved from this area from time to time). 

Secondly, you can try floating plant islands. These are available from large aquatic shops or online, round or square, in different sizes, and can also be linked together. They are essentially aquatic planting bags held up by an integral ring of polystyrene. (You can also get custom-made ones if money is no issue). They are planted with aquatic soil and then almost any marginal plant that you wish. The islands are quite heavy but if you have strong circulating pumps, you might need to ensure they don't drift around the pond by attaching them to the sides with twine etc. Consider planting with something tall like an iris and then underplanting with something scrambling like water speedwell, watercress, or marsh pennywort, so that the scrambling plant will hide the edges of the island and eventually make it look like natural plant growth. (Although scrambling plants grow fast - if you think you will never thin them out and they'll swamp the tall plant, perhaps best just to stick with the tall plant). 

Finally, you can try large/tough plants that the koi are less likely to eat. Waterlilies are the most popular choice, as they are attractive and can grow at the depths found in many koi ponds. Choose a large lily (advertised leaf spread of at least 100cm) and ensure its soil is well topped with gravel. You can also try tough, fibrous plants; the same strategy as is used with waterfowl. The difficulty with these is the depth of the average koi pond - try carefully building stable plinths composed of things like house bricks, which are chemically inert - don't use concrete blocks. Suitable plants to try would be things like Cyperus longus (Sweet Galingale), Carex riparia (Greater Pond Sedge), and Typha latifolia (bulrushes, including variegated versions). It must be said though that adding waterliies or tough, reedy plants works much of the time, but certainly not all the time. Like all animals, koi are unpredictable and you will not really know until you try. It is sometimes said that you can distract koi from eating the pond plants by offering regular feeds of fresh lettuce, orange slices etc, but in our experience this doesn't seem to affect it one way or the other. 

Which British native plants would you recommend for a wildlife pond?

To encourage wildlife, we would suggest choosing plants of each type so that you have a range of habitats within the pond - plants with underwater foliage, such as oxygenating plants, plants with floating leaves, and marginal plants around the edge with emergent stems for the larvae of flying insects to crawl up. 

All of the oxygenating plants that we do are British natives and would be suitable. Mixing different species will give a slightly wider range of habitats, although unless your pond is large it will look less natural than having all the same species (in the wild, plants don't tend to grow in small numbers of lots of different types, but in large clumps of the same type). If you only go for one type, we would suggest avoiding Hornwort or Crowfoot, since each of these dies away at certain times of the year and would leave you for a period without any oxygenating plants (Hornwort dies away in winter and Crowfoot in summer). 

For floating-leaved plants, Floating Heart is a very easy one to grow and has the advantage of giving you cover fairly quickly, although in small ponds it might need to be cut back by the end of the season. 

With regard to marginal plants, Loosestrife is very popular indeed with bees and butterflies, as is Marsh Cinquefoil and to a lesser extent Water Forget-Me-Not. Creeping plants such as Water SpeedwellMarsh Pennywort and Water Mint are useful to scramble around the edges of pots or the container and help to hide them. The flowers of Water Mint especially appear later in the year when other plants are done and are loved by bumblebees. 

Finally, try to 'blend' the edges of the pond into the rest of the garden with vegetation so that small animals can enter and leave it sheltered and unobserved. Try to plan shallow areas or escape routes for any wildife that might get trapped in the water - animals such as rodents can climb up, fall in and drown even in free-standing ponds. 

How do I hide the edge of my pond, or the edges of my pots?

Sometimes, parts of the pond liner or concrete edging can be visible around the edge of the pond. This may be part of the design in formal ponds, but can look out of place in ponds intended to appear natural. In natural ponds and streams, the vegetation usually continues right into the water, changing from terrestrial plants to water-loving ones as the soil gets wetter. If you need to hide the edge, try adding low-growing, scrambling plants such as Water SpeedwellMarsh Pennywort, or Water Mint. These grow in wet soil and shallow water and also 'raft' out onto the surface of deeper water, covering it. They can also be used as underplanting (planted around the base of taller plants) to hide the edges of pots (but do thin them out if they begin to swamp the taller plant). 

For ponds without shelves you can also buy overhanging mats - mats of woven plastic or hessian which are pegged to the bank of the pond and hang down into it. Marginal plants, with soil, are placed in pockets in the mat. 

 

My pond has gone green - is this normal?

It is completely normal for new ponds to go green. In fact, they are much more likely to go green than not. Every year we are contacted by people who have recently built a new pond and put in some plants, and are puzzled and worried because, about two weeks later, the water has gone very green, and/or slimy green strands have appeared everywhere. It's important to remember that the majority of ponds you see, either in the wild or in people's gardens, have been established for a while, and have gone through this stage. Green water - the 'pea soup' effect - is caused by single-celled or tiny individual algae suspended in it, while blanketweed, stringy algae, or slimy algae, are caused by filamentous algae. Filamentous algae is usually attached to surfaces, such as the pond sides or plant leaves, but it may be free-floating. 

You cannot keep algae out of your pond by anything that you do, and you do not 'catch' it from anywhere as such. Another common thing that people say to us is, that they bought plants from another nursery and 'caught' algae from them. This widespread belief is one reason that we carefully wash and clean all our plants before they go out so that they have no algae on them, but in truth it makes no practical difference. What has happened in this case it that the person has built a new pond, or cleaned out an old one, and then bought plants from a less careful nursery, which arrived with visible algae on them. When their pond goes green, or filamentous algae appears, soon afterwards, they naturally assume this has come in with the plants. In fact any body of water that is new, or disturbed in some way, will inevitably go green, and the timing is coincidence. The algae is triggered by nutrients being released into the water column - nutrients either from the tapwater used to fill the pond or from adding plants in pots of soil. More rarely, nutrients are released from disturbing sludge on the bottom when cleaning. Algal cells can indeed come in on plants, but this is true even if the plants appear completely clean, and they can also come in on the wind, on birds' feet, on aquatic insects, etc. Algae cannot be kept out, except by the constant use of strong disinfectants in the water, as is done with swimming pools. 

However, algae is mostly harmless. (If you are interested in wildlife it's also helpful to remember that it is natural, and is the primary basis for the aquatic food chain). Gardeners strongly dislike the appearance of algae and green water, and often think they have to quickly remove it in some way. Very intense growths of algae can indeed cause some water quality problems (mostly low oxygen levels or pH swings) which can harm pet fish, but these are not common and can usually be avoided by circulating the water with a pump. If you don't have fish in your pond, then algae is more of a cosmetic issue. The most likely problem it can cause is that it may cut out light to your deep-water plants, and delay their establishing. It isn't likely to kill them, but if it is very extreme and prolonged and the plant is small and vulnerable, there is a small chance of this. If your plants seem to be really struggling for light, green water problems can be avoided by raising the plant higher in the water so that light can better penetrate to it. Stringy algae problems can be avoided by physically pulling it off the plants as much as you practically can. There are also numerous over-the-counter algae treatments you can buy from aquatic shops, from barley straw to phosphate blockers - these are generally harmless to plants and aquatic life and work well provided that they are regularly re-applied.

Algae will in fact usually go by itself. Or rather, it will settle down to a naturally low level that most people are happy with. Once a pond has been set up for a while, the nutrients tend to leave the water column and become incorporated into the substrate and the plant material, and the pond clears. Invertebrates that feed on algae start to move into the pond and it falls to the bottom in their droppings, or it simply exhausts the food supply and dies back. In a pond without any plants at all, it will persist but at a lower level. In a pond with a good amount of plants, once these are established they compete with the algae for light and nutrients, and keep it under control. Provided that there isn't a continual influx of new nutrients into the pond (from ground run-off, fish being fed, waterfowl droppings, or dredging of sludge) it should then stay clear. It's common for an algal bloom to appear in spring each year - algae's ecological niche is to get going in spring quicker than the plants can - but this clears as the year advances and the plants catch up. Algae may bloom again in an established pond after a disturbance, such as adding new plants or cleaning the pond, but this bloom is usually much shorter lived than the initial one. 

If you do have a continual flow of nutrients into the pond, from fish that you are feeding every day, from waterfowl, or from ground run-off, you can fight the algae by choosing faster-growing plants that will compete better with it. It will also help if you thin their excess growth regularly and remove it. When you remove plant foliage from the pond and compost it, you are also removing the nutrients locked up in its structure (rather than leaving it to die off and re-release these nutrients back into the water). If this is not enough and algae is still a problem, speak to your aquatic shop about ultra-violet units, phosphate blockers and biological treatments.