In 2016 we started work on what would eventually become the Greatrakes Wildlife Pond. Three years on, the pond has now become an established feature of the garden, and a favourite spot for visitors and ourselves alike to sit and watch the world go by. What was once a plain, featureless area of patchy lawn is now an oasis, with its running cascades and placid pools proving to be a haven for many species of native birds, frogs and insects.
In the meantime however, other parts of the garden have not fared quite so well. The summer of 2017-18 at Mount Dandenong was a tale of two halves, with a very wet start, followed by a dry spell that stretched late into autumn, whilst the 2018-19 summer has been a long and dry one with below average rainfall. This has proven to be fatal for the lawn area alongside our David Austin rose border.
We’re pretty sure the soil that forms the slope in this area consists mainly of the sub soil that was extracted when the house was extended and a courtyard excavated some time in the mid 80s – it’s certainly much heavier than the typically rich mountain soil found throughout the rest of the garden. The lawn area also cops a lot of foot traffic of both the two legged and four legged varieties, as well as the runoff from the top path every time it rains. As a consequence it spends most of winter in a permanently sodden state, and most of summer baked dry to the consistency of concrete.
When we first arrived here in 2015, this “lawn” consisted mainly of moss – great for staying green during the damp winters and retaining enough moisture through normal summers, but definitely ill suited to sustained traffic or extended dry spells. We’ve attempted to establish more grass, but after four years we’re ready to admit defeat and start looking at alternative arrangements.
Enter the plans for a new Lotus Pond. One of the few regrets with the wildlife pond was that due to the location we weren’t able to create any pools large enough or deep enough to grow Lotus plants, but the location of this new pond is much more open and sunny, with far fewer tree roots (hopefully) to contend with. It also offers better visibility from the house, so an oriental style pond with Lotus, surrounded by Japanese Maples and Cherry Blossoms will provide a beautiful backdrop to the rose border when viewed from the living room. As with the wildlife pond, this pond will also feature a series of cascades and a natural bio filter to maintain crystal clear water without the use of chemicals.
We are in the very early stages of planning at the moment, with preliminary excavation not likely to begin until later this year, so stay tuned for more information as it comes to hand…