Chris led the charge as volunteers dug out overgrown sedge
The Kingston Hill pond has gone through a lot over the last few months - installation of a new pond dipping platform, the summer's heatwave caused it to almost dry up, then the concentrated nutrients and sunshine created a growth spurt in weed completely smothering any open water. We also took the decision to coppice a nearby tree to allow more light to reach the pond to encourage photosynthesis and gas exchange. It was high time for some TLC to make the most of this important habitat.
|Full of leaves and overgrown, the Kingston Hill pond was in much need of some maintenance|
With the assistance of Chris from the Environment Trust, volunteers keenly donned waders and ventured in the cold water to begin the clearance. Stirring up the silt on the bottom caused a great stink but not to be put off, volunteers embraced the challenge with vigour. Unfortuantely some of the sedge was equally vigorous and wouldn't go lightly! If spades and forks wouldn't do the job, then pruning saws surely would?! So we cut out the sedge chunk by chunk, balancing the open water and vegetation to more of the recommended 2:1 mix.
Doing laps of the pond with nets scooped up mountains of autumn leaves and detritus which would otherwise cause a nutrient overload and algal bloom in spring. We made sure we left some at the bottom of the pond as this itself is valuable shelter for grubs, larvae and hibernating frogs and eggs may have been laid on some vegetation too. Although it was tempting to go 'Gung Ho' and pull it all out, we heeded the phrase 'everything in moderation'!
All the leaves, weed and sedge was piled on the edge of the pond and will be left for a few days to allow creatures to make their way back into the pond. It will then be added to our compost heap to prevent the nutrients washing back into the pond when it rains.
Chris brought over some flag iris which we dug into the water mint-filled planters already in the pond. During the clearance we uncovered a previously unknown planter so this seemed the appropriate place to plant the tubers. By planting in containers we will be able to manage the irises and ensure they doesn't spread too quickly and out compete other vegetation.
Having discovered another planter in the pond, Guy promptly plants the flag iris there. It's yellow flowers should make sure we don't lose it again!
While some got wet, others preferred to stay on terra firma. The recently coppiced goat willow provided perfect material to produce log piles. With a bit of elbow grease, volunteers sawed through the wood into manageable lengths then piled them around the pond to provide habitat for hibernating frogs and toads.
Tara saws up felled branches for logs
As always we did a litter pick as we worked, uncovering areas that hadn't been touched for years.
|'Please don't litter' - how ironic! This old style coke can must have been in the undergrowth for over twenty years|
As the daylight dwindled, volunteers reluctantly packed away the tools and reflected on the valuable work they had done. A great deal of leaves and weed was removed from the pond, allowing light in and preventing excess nutrient build up; new habitat was created with our log shelters; new plants were dug in and invasive ones chopped out providing an opportunity for more wildlife to thrive in the area.
|Shortly after volunteers left for the day, an inquisitive fox came to see what all the fuss had been about|
We'll be continuing rhododendron clearance at Kingston Hill in December, but if you fancy more mucky jobs, we'll be venturing over to Tolworth Court on Sat 30th November to restore the ditches there (we'll also be planting spring bulbs as early nectar sources for bees). TCV will be joining us, so it's a great chance to work with this nationally renowned organisation as well as watch a few games of sport while we work!