The Lindengate ponds bring a dazzling beauty to the gardens and the nature reserve. There are four ponds in the main garden at Lindengate; three are lined with membranes  (located in the orchard, at the ‘Nature is a Fragile Beauty installation and a third older established pond near the large soft fruit cage). The Fourth and largest pond is a natural clay lined pond (located near the main lawn).  At various times of the year pond scatters, water lice, water spiders, damselflies and dragonflies can be seen darting across the pond alongside the frogs and newts. Ponds support two thirds of all freshwater species so the ponds are instrumental in Lindengate’s conservation work. The large clay pond is also very popular with our ducks and deer who can be seen swimming in the water.

During the 20th Century ponds were in rapid decline but in the 21st Century we can all play a part in alleviating their demise and to help prevent climate change which is throwing the cycles of nature out of kilter.  Although we have a large site to house our numerous ponds, it is possible to create a pond in a small space.  A pond can be anything from a washing up bowl or sealed china pot sunk in the ground creating a mini pond –  we have one in the grass bed – all the way up to an enormous natural ‘puddle’ or ‘dew’ pond lined with clay.

To create a clay pond, you just need lots of sticky, shiny clay – the type that rolls out in the hand like a sausage. At Lindengate we have lots of this type of soil deep below the site’s clay loam. The sticky clay has the air pockets squeezed out of it making it suitable for the creation of a water tight layer. ‘Puddle’ clay should have very few stones in it too. At Lindengate the soil is mainly clay so the main pond opposite the central lawn was lined successfully with clay dug from our site. Not all locations are suitable for clay ponds, for example, gravel, silt, sandy or peaty soils that are affected by ground water are not ideal. Neither are sites situated on a slope as the water can drain away. In the 19th Century the puddling process of lining ponds was also used for canal linings, for example at the Wendover Arm Canal which was once used to transport coal, flour, straw and manure through its waters.

Lining a pond with clay should be about 30 cm to 60 cm thick. Over the ‘puddled’ clay another 15 cm of sub soil can be used to help protect the clay from drying out. It is very important to keep the clay layer moist and protected or it will crack and leak if it dries out.  Also, the water levels should be kept high for the same reason.

Autumn to winter is a great time to create a new pond although ponds can be created all year. Often it is recommended that the ideal site for a pond is a warm sunny area. However, semi shaded ponds can have some benefits. The fallen leaves and branches support specialised and uncommon species of wildlife. Even dragonflies take advantage of fallen logs by laying their eggs upon the wood and leaf litter. Aquatic beetle larvae enjoy eating the decaying wood or the fungi that grow upon the surface of the fallen branches. Water violets and iris plants all do well in semi shade too. Trees that shelter ponds give protection for delicate winged insects too.  Ponds surrounded by trees, hedges and scrub are great for nesting birds and give cover for deer to drink from the water. Fallen logs also create a great ramp enabling wildlife to access the water safely.  If your pond does not have an ideal gentle sloping side, ‘a beach’,  then a fallen log into the water is a good idea.

At  Lindengate we add rocks, stones and logs to our ponds to not only give the pond a natural look but create habitats for creatures. Some of our ponds also use rolled coir matting for planting aquatics, protecting the lined ponds and creating important habitats for creatures. Having spiked water milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum or Hornwort (Ceratophyllym demersum) as oxygenators for the water are a good idea as they help prevent algae bloom or blanket weed.  It is also good to use rain water where ever possible to fill up a pond.  In all our ponds we try to create a balance between the planting aquatics, planting oxygenating deep water plants, submergent plants with floating leaves, emergent and marginals with bog plants. However it is important to remember that plants spread and can become too invasive in a small pond, for example Water mint (Mentha aquatica), however tasty to eat, can spread quickly.

In May -June 2022, Lindengate was very fortunate to receive a donation of plants and large shrubs from the Gold award winning RHS Chelsea flower show garden, ‘A Rewilding Britain Landscape’, a garden designed by Urquhart & Hunt in support of Rewilding Britain. For the first time at the Chelsea flower show the effects of rewilding were explored, demonstrating how keystone species, for example beavers, can create a positive change within the environment. The plants from their riparian meadow, trees and aquatics are now a feature of our new wildlife pond in the conservation area of Lindengate sited behind the forest garden.

Our aim is to create an environment that is in balance with the surrounding area and current wildlife sited in the nature reserve.  Some of the key native species that are planted in the new pond area are Marsh valerian, Devil’s bit scabious and many of the wildflowers we grow and sell on site. The trees that surround the pond include White willow, Hawthorn, Field Maple, Mountain Ash and Black Poplar.  Wildflowers mingle with sedges and grasses and marginal plants around the pond.  The new conservation pond is a key feature of the wildlife nature reserve which has been made possible through the generous support of The Clare Foundation and the Chalk, Cherries and Chairs lottery funded project. On the ridge overlooking the pond there is a new hide which has been made by our extremely talented volunteers.