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Name: Ann Ramsden Was Wright
Question: Hi sue. My hubby has just put in a fish pond. It's about 12ft x 8ft with a border of about 2ft all around it. Could you advise on what I could plant for colour year round? Nothing too tall as don't want to take away the view of the fish. There's water lilies in the pond so want to be able to see these when in flower too. Thank you any help would be appreciated.
Answer: Hi Ann, that sounds like a nice sizeable pond! If the surrounding border is moist or boggy then there are plenty of marginal plants which you could plant, many of which would also be happy partially submerged in the water. Mid spring to early summer is the best time to plant pond plants as the water is warming up and they will grow away rapidly. You could try growing plants with a mixture of heights for textural interest, leaving some areas planted with low-growing plants so you can see through to the water lilies. Some fantastic low-growing marginal pond plants include the Water forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides), our native watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum), Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), Slender club-rush (Isolepis cernua), Corkscrew rush (Juncus effusus f. spiralis) and Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga) the latter two of which are evergreen. For something a bit taller try planting Giant Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris var. palustris), Mimulus ringens (Allegheny monkey flower), Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), Ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Yellow Flag (Iris pseudacorus) or Flowering Rush (Butomus umbellatus). The Dutch rush (Equisetum hyemale var. affine) also makes a lovely evergreen, architectural plant with bold stripy stems. If you wanted to grow any of these in the pond itself to soften the edges, all you need to do is pot the plants up in aquatic baskets and place some bricks underneath to raise the pots to the surface.
If the border surrounding your pond is normal, well drained soil then there are lots of plants you could choose! With a 2ft border it’s probably best to plant herbaceous perennials, annuals, bulbs and perhaps some very small shrubs if required. Bear in mind that trees and shrubs shed lots of leaves so can cause problems close to ponds. I would suggest taking a look at our Garden Plant Finder, where you can narrow down your search by colour, flowering month, seasonal interest and plant type. I hope this gives you some ideas to start Ann, best of luck!
Name: Pauline Petros
Question: Is there any chance the 16 figs on my young tree will ripen this year? It's in a largish pot on the patio outside.
Answer: Hi Pauline, with the sudden drop in temperature and the likelihood of it remaining this way, the figs probably won’t ripen in time now. If you can bring the plant indoors to a conservatory or greenhouse and we get a few more sunny autumn days they might still ripen if they are mature enough. The general advice for growing figs in the UK is to remove any fruits larger than the size of a pea in late autumn. Any pea-sized fruits should be protected over winter with horticultural fleece and will then develop next summer. Larger fruits are unlikely to come to anything and aren’t worth protecting over winter. To help your figs ripen next year, make sure the pot is placed in the warmest and most sheltered position possible - against a south-facing brick wall would be ideal. Keep the embryonic fruits protected throughout winter until all risk of frost has passed in the spring. I hope this helps Pauline, good luck.