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Brain's gone blank - looking for inspiration

I'm trying to make a wildlife area right in front of our French kitchen windows so we can have a 'cinematic' view of garden visitors/dwellers. I've formed a pond but what do I surround it with? Crazy paving and stones doesn't do anything for me, though I know they do look nice, but it's the gapping between them that I think is causing me a blank. 

Guessing that whatever is put around the 'pond' the stones/paving will need to be small to match the dimension of the small pond. An overlap of the pool would be possible using pavers to hide the edge of the pond. 

If I went for crazy paving, I'm imagining the gaps could be planted with small plants such as London Pride? Would it be necessary for the pavers to be cemented in? 

Having a couple of terracotta or ceramic pots of plants would look good standing on flat surfaces such as a paver, it would break up the height levels.

Or should I go for a hypertufa effect and form my own pavers? I've read hypertufa is quite easy?

For the whole area I'd like to see it jam packed with plants with birds in mind and to help feed them ie with sunflowers.  At the moment it's got a blue hibiscus (a gift) and a climbing rose (for the obelisk). I've a dwarf holly bush to plant there yet. Filling in with perennials and annuals.

The pond does have a depth of 60cm for half of it, with two shelf areas. I've ordered a dwarf bullrush, a marsh marigold, and an iris plant for the shelving. I'm also waiting on oxygenating weed Elodea Densa x10.

In the 6 months we've lived here I've only ever seen a bird in the garden twice, and I think that was the same blackbird. I've seen pigeons and seagulls flying around, and a large owl one evening, but nothing that's caught my eye. Though being an early dogwalker, they are around cos I can hear them singing their little hearts out!

I'd appreciate any ideas offered. Ta very much :)

Trying to be the person my dog thinks I am! 

Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border.


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,817
    I'd forget any hard landscaping around the pond. You could plant up the entire square, if you still want a geometric look, or plant round part of it, and turf the rest for a more loos feel. Or - make the planting area much bigger and more informal.
    All sorts of plants will work to give you varying heights, from flowery perennials to grasses, and everything in between so that you have some evergreen cover for any small creatures, especially frogs. It looks like there's a long way to any other planting, so that's particularly good and will  benefit them.
    I'd avoid any more shrubs if you have a rose there, and a Hibiscus, unless you remove more turf. You'll just shade the pond and block views of it as well. Is that the Hibiscus right next to the edge? I'd move that back, further away from the pond edge.
    You can tuck the liner down into the ground, and then plant at the edges, or plant right at the edges of it - whichever you find easiest.
    You don't need to use small stones because the pond is small either. A few bigger rocks is actually a better look, with some gravel etc for the beached edging. I'm assuming you're doing that if it's for wildlife? I've got  a few bigger rocks, and I'd have dug out the even bigger ones if I could have managed them.
    I've got to be honest - I'd take up some of the paving as well, and plant into that to soften all the edges, but you may prefer the geometry of the paving.

    I'd move the bird feeder to avoid all sorts dropping into the pond though  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • UffUff Posts: 3,199
    If you want a wildlife type of finish, crazy paving, or any paving wouldn't fit in Jenny_Aster, it needs to be natural and not contrived -  well as much as you can anyway. I would go for mossy rocks or as below, mossy logs, with wild type planting in between with perhaps a dribble of rough bark as a mulch.

    SW SCOTLAND but born in Derbyshire
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,817
    I don't have any big logs or stumps unfortunately, just various branches, some leading into the water which is great for birds to perch on. Those are excellent @Uff. I had an old tree stump beside my tiny pond that I created initially here. That area's planted now that I have the bigger pond, but the stump is till a nice little mossy feature  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • UffUff Posts: 3,199
    Jenny_Aster wouldn't need big logs as it's a small pond. Small gnarled ones would be ideal. If you live within 50 miles of me I'll bring you a boot full if you want them Jenny. 
    SW SCOTLAND but born in Derbyshire
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,686
    edited March 2022
    The concept of having a rose pillar, wildlife pond, and bird feeder within 2ft of each other doesn't work for me unfortunately. Bird seed and bird poo would potentially pollute the water. I would probably move the pond to the corner of the garden and surround with ferns etc, and the sort of logs suggested above to hide the liner. 

    I would keep the bird feeder where it is and plant wildlife friendly shrubs/flowers around the base. A bird bath that you can easily clean out could be placed on the paved area.
    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour". 
  • FireFire Posts: 18,963
    I used logs too. And large stones. Small wildlife likes plant cover, esp around a pond.

     Self seeders can build up plant cover quickly and you can fill up a wild garden by editing out what you don't want. For wildness, you might want to lose the lawn, put in some small trees and go for plants like common valerian, forgetmenots for bees, ox eyes, dead nettle, poppies, fox gloves, hollyhocks, teasel, linaria, sunflowers. All of these can self seed freely if they are happy.

     It's good to get plant cover as close as you can can to the pond, without risking leaves falling into the water or you will spend all your time fishing them out. 

    Small birds like somewhere safe to hide so trees, shrubs and hedging can offer that. Personally my most 'safe tree' for birds seems to be a thorny pryracantha out the front. Sparrows spend all day chatting in there, safe from cats. I have a water butt hidden inside. The lid is indented so it makes a small kind of pond, which they like. They nest above it.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,817
    I think it's easier to move the bird feeder.... ;)
    My branches are this sort of size

    That was just after I'd done the basics for the pond last spring. There's more of them now, and finer gravel in there too, and more planting at that end.
    My old pond wasn't any bigger than yours, and I just did something similar re branches, but there was loads of planting around it as well, and easy access to the other planted areas.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,511
    edited March 2022
    I have little knowledge of wildlife ponds and planting so leave others to advise you on that, but purely from an aesthetic perspective it does look a little boxy and isolated. I don’t think a rose obelisk is right there either, I’m afraid.

    A more informally shaped planting area, perhaps biting into the paving a little and extending it out around one side of the terrace would better suit the informal shape of your pond. In that setting I personally wouldn’t go full ‘woodland wild stumpery’ unless I was developing that theme throughout the garden.

    Maybe something like this, which is bigger and much more ambitious but you get the idea. It combines elements of both formal and informal design and I like the rocks and gravel edging. Pic nicked from pintrest:

    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • Have a think about dwarf conifers. They're really out of fashion at the moment but a bit of research will pay off in finding suitable examples. Small birds like darting in and out of them - Wrens & Sparrows especially.
  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,682
    How amenable are you to a fairly drastic overhaul? As it stands at present you have square shapes that really do not lend themselves to an informal, wildlife friendly garden. It does seem that the garden as evolving piecemeal (as is often the case) but you do have an opportunity to go for something more integrated. 

    This sketch took 5 minutes but it might be something you could consider as I don’t think it is too late to move the pond, even if it does cause some industrial strength swearing.

    Planting would be on the left and right. On the back fence you could grow roses, clematis, sweet peas, blackberries ... whatever. Where the pond abuts the patio I would place some substantial stones.
    Rutland, England
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