Today was another long but exciting day at the allotment. Upon arrival, Tracy dragged me to see her new idea for her pond – a toad house made from an old pot, covered in turf. It looked amazing. She also gave me some Mind your Own Business plant which should spread over the logs at the edge of the pond. I left Tracy to continue to finish off her pond, moving on to feed the chickens. The chicks have clearly decided their other safe spot (their favourite is under the nest box) is on top of the food bins. Turfing them off to get out the food was a popular decision but I was soon forgiven when food appeared. Geoff had kindly given me some cabbage for the chickens to enjoy. As soon as the cabbage was down, they lost all interest in me. I cleaned them out and went to check on Leia.
As soon as I opened the door to the nest box, I got shouted at. She glared at me suspiciously as I filled her treat plate with cabbage. It’s so close to the chicks hatching date that she will be extra grumpy. Three weeks is a long time to sit in one place!
After spending a while chatting with the guys over a drink, I decided I needed to go and find some plants for the bog garden. There is a local nursery hidden away about fifteen minutes walk from the allotment, brilliantly called the Secret Garden. I must have walked past this place more times than I care to count. It’s hidden behind a pub and contains an enormous variety of plants. I couldn’t believe how big it is! The guy who runs it is incredibly knowledgeable and was really helpful. Tracy, who showed me where it was, is a regular and was able to show me around. We left armed with three beautiful plants which are suited to moist or damp soil. Unfortunately, there weren’t any specialised bog plants so I will continue hunting online for those.
We arrived back and put the plants to one side. There was a lot of digging to do! By now the sun had appeared and it was quite warm. Typical. My first job was to cut down the blue barrel Tracy had given me. This would form a mini pond that would sit in the middle of the bog garden. Using a rip saw, I cut off the bottom foot of the barrel and put it into place.
Next, I used a screw to make irrigation holes in the old hose pipe. This took a lot longer than I thought it would and the holes weren’t quite as big as I wanted. It was almost ready except for something to block the end of the hose. As I searched around, I spotted a stock which looked like it might do the job. Incredibly, it was a perfect fit.
Now the hard work began. Tracy kindly let me use a roll of turf to form a organic base to the bog. Moving the soil was a slow process as it was important to make sure the soil was evenly distributed and also that it didn’t end up in the new pond. Initially, I was worried there was too much soil for the bog garden. As I worked, the soil pile shrunk and the soil level in the bog didn’t seem to be rising as fast as the pile was shrinking. Eventually, the soil level looked about right and I built up the soil around the edge of the pond to enable easier access for any passing wildlife. Before I finished with the pond, I used several of the small tiles that Steve offered to me, to make a pattern around the pond. I will then use the gaps between the tiles with plants.
Rather pleased with how it was looking, I started to fill the pond. As it is better for wildlife, I filled the pond with water from one of the water butts. It took around 8-10 watering cans to fill the pond fully and it will definitely take a good number of hours for it to clear. The final stage was to add in the three beautiful plants I had bought earlier. Much to Phil’s amusement, one was a hosta. Despite my dislike of hostas, the Secret Garden had a lovely white and green one called Fire and Ice. I decided to plant the hosta and the gorgeous yellow spires on one side of the pond and the Canna plant on the other. There is still plenty of room for several other plants and I particularly like the idea of having a small gunnera somewhere in there too. I added a small amount of oxygenating plant to the mini pond and stood back to survey the effect. I was rather proud of it. Using an old pot from home and a spare piece of turf turned upsidedown, I made an amphibian house before thoroughly watering the bog.
By now, somehow, the entire day seemed to have gone and I headed home, pleased with the new bog garden. Tomorrow will include some weeding and possibly some plant ordering!