Choosing the right plants

The most important factors to bear in mind are: the size, depth and location of the pond and your own personal gardening style. The single most common problem I come across is ponds with no shelves, or shelves that are far too deep. The vast majority of marginal plants like to be covered by no more than a few centimetres of water; 1cm is far better than 15cm in most cases. Similarly, many people seem to think that water lilies need to be a metre deep or more; in fact most prefer half that depth.

Die-hard environmentalists will wish to use only native plants; at the other end of the spectrum a jungly tropical look can be achieved in mild areas or if some plants can be given winter protection. There is absolutely no sound ecological reason not to use some non-native plants if you like them. They all provide habitat, nectar and food and to my knowledge there is no British animal or insect that relies totally on one native water plant for its survival. I do not sell any invasive non-native plants and never have done. Some of the native ones can be invasive and I clearly state this in the plant description.

If you are a beginner you could select one of my pond packs; these contain a nice variety of problem-free, non-invasive plants to give interest throughout the season and include the baskets. If you don’t need baskets then it’s no problem to reduce the price accordingly.

The most common mistakes are: using plants that are too vigorous for the size of the pond, or placing the plant in a situation that is too wet or not wet enough for it, usually the former. Most plants will be happy in permanently moist soil but many moisture loving plants resent standing in water permanently, though they may be ok during the main period of growth in summer.

I am happy to discuss your particular situation in detail and advise on the most suitable plants; there is absolutely no obligation. The best way to do this is on the telephone, as it is very time consuming for me to type out reams of different possibilities on email. I do ask that you phone me please. Brief email queries will be answered promptly.

There are many specialist books on water gardening; these are a better bet than chapters on water plants in a more general manual, which can sometimes be misleading or plain wrong. The following titles are particularly good:

The Wildlife Pond Handbook;  Louise Bardsley; 978-1-84517-141-4
Encyclopaedia of Water Garden Plants; Greg Speichert; 0-88192-625-6
Plants for Water Gardens; Malcolm Edwards; 1-84084-338-1
The Water Garden, Anthony Paul, Yvonne Rees, 0-7112-0425-X

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