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Pico Pond (and everything else!)

Courtneybst

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Juncus ensifolius is another nice one, it's a bit like a mini, grassy, bullrushes and has the nice name of flying hedgehogs. Carex palustris is also good.
I like the look of the Juncus! It would contrast really well with a bit of Typha minima I had planned to add. It looks like a miniature version of an already miniature plant. 😁 I searched for the Carex and couldn't find many decent foliage pictures but I found a similar variant plata 'Aurea' or Gold Sedge that looks great so I guess I'll be getting both haha.
I've <"got this one"> and it is an excellent marginal plant and not too rampant.
Thanks Darrel, this is good to know because aggressive growers can be a pain in the ass as I've learnt with the Oenanthe javanica 'Flamingo'.
Lilaeopsis brasilensis is sold as marginal pond plants at garden centres.
I really love the look of this plant but always assumed it would be too cold. Now that you mention it, I think I do remember seeing it in a garden centre once. @shangman has an indoor display of it and I have to say it looks amazing. I think it would be worth giving it a go! I wonder how cold hardy it is...
Equisetum scirpoides
Thanks mort, I like the look of this too! Also appreciate the fact that it's evergreen. I made the mistake of using lots of plants that aren't evergreen last year and so from early winter until the present day the terracotta section looks like crap. I think it would be good to add it here.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
because aggressive growers can be a pain in the ass as I've learnt with the Oenanthe javanica 'Flamingo'.
Ranunculus lingua is another one that wants to claim your whole pond, it is the "Convict Cichlid" of the pond plant world.
I found a similar variant plata 'Aurea'
Assuming that is elata not plata? Carex elata aurea ("Bowles Yellow") is a good one. I used to have it, but I think it probably departed in the drought of 2018. Carex pseudocyperus is attractive, and not too vigorous, but a lot of the other sedges are a real pain.

cheers Darrel
 

Courtneybst

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Ranunculus lingua is another one that wants to claim your whole pond
I will stay clear in that case! It does look beautiful though. But so many naughty things are... fish and plants included.
Assuming that is elata not plata? Carex elata aurea ("Bowles Yellow") is a good one.
Oh yes, this is the one! For some reason the garden centre website I looked at said plata, must have been a typo. What great colouration.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
It does look beautiful though.
It is a cracking flower, a really big, gorgeous, shiny yellow, buttercup flower (you can see them in the pond below). When I got it I knew it was a rare British native (so are Carex elata and <"C. pseudocyperus ">) and I worried that it would be difficult to grow, but nothing could be further than the truth.

pond_view_june2012b-jpg-jpg.158324

cheers Darrel
 
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mort

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I've got a pond full of the ranunculus, it sends out really massive runners and comes up everywhere. It's a nice plant if you have an enormous pond.

I meant carex elata bowles golden but where I looked it up had the wrong scientific name listed. I remember the plant because I heard Mr bowles was on a train with the landscape flying past the window when he spotted it out of the corner of his eye and pulled the emergency stop cord, proceeded to leave the train and dig it up. I've no idea if that's true but I always remember it.

Sisyrinchium are nice little plants that do well, there's a yellow flowering one which does well.

 

mort

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I've not found it remotely invasive tbh at least not compared to most pond plants which tend to be quite thugish by nature. Ours grows gently through the stones on the pond margins but does send runners up as it goes along (which are easilly pulled up but would be harder if it grew through other plants) . We have the larger equisetum japonica as well and it's equally well behaved, at least for us.
 

Maf 2500

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Are we talking slow burn like wild garlic or Japanese knotweed vibes? 😅
Definitely slow burn, but the issue is it grows through and under all your other plants and can regenerate from the tiniest fragment, so once it is established you will not be able to get rid of it without binning all the plants and soil in your pond.

As an example our family had it growing in a large pond (my choice to plant it) with the similarly sized Crassula helmsii (stonecrop) which is now banned in the UK as invasive. About ten years ago I attempted to remove both species from the pond and seem to have succeeded with Crassula helmsii, but Equisetum scirpoides keeps coming back in the stony beach area and in amongst all the marginals in the baskets.

I've not found it remotely invasive tbh at least not compared to most pond plants which tend to be quite thugish by nature. Ours grows gently through the stones on the pond margins but does send runners up as it goes along (which are easilly pulled up but would be harder if it grew through other plants)
Yes, defo not a thug like some, more insidious. It is relatively easy to remove some of it, or even most of it, but all of it? .... not in my experience
 

Maf 2500

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Sisyrinchium are nice little plants that do well, there's a yellow flowering one which does well.
Not sure if it is the exact same one linked but we have a pale yellow flowered Sisyrinchium that does well in beaches and margins. They provide a nice grassy structure with the clumps of leaves and I like to think of them as like miniature water irises (in plant habit if not in flower shape).
 

Courtneybst

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Not sure if it is the exact same one linked but we have a pale yellow flowered Sisyrinchium that does well in beaches and margins. They provide a nice grassy structure with the clumps of leaves and I like to think of them as like miniature water irises (in plant habit if not in flower shape).
It seems to be, the shop description describes them to be like 'mini irises'. They do look quite nice.
 

Courtneybst

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What else is there to do when you've been hit by covid other than fast-forwarding your projects? 😅

My Pico Pond II was really coming into its own this spring, so naturally I got the urge to destroy it. I found a WIO 30F that was the perfect dimensions to fit on my windowsill without any overhang and so I jumped on it! I wasn't due to redo the little pond until next week or the week after but since I'm now homebound, why not? The pond also kept leaking through capillary action which has now stained the wall below so I knew it was time. 🙃

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It felt bittersweet to be breaking it down, I learnt a lot from it and it brings me joy but as soon as I started dismantling it, it felt right (and good). I reused the same plant species, creating 'plugs' from the old setup so it should have a similar vibe but just upgraded. I also removed all the black lava rock and replaced it with manzanita wood. This is the 3rd time. I've used this manzanita in a scape, which feels very...bang for your buck!

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I tried to add a tiny 150L/hr filter on it but even that was too strong, despite baffling it (plus it was noisy which is a no-go being right next to my bed). So this will run without a filter like the other one. The lights are only on 4 hours a day between 18:00 and 22:00 which was carried on from the previous, with the sun doing the rest. I'll get some pictures when I figure out how to photograph it! This one has presented a new challenge in that most of the light is backlit so makes the shots really shadowy, but then focusing on the tank makes the back really blown out and stark white. Any tips on that?

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Courtneybst

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Finally I can show you the Pico Pond III in its almost-finished form (I have 2 more plants to go in) but first let's rewind a bit so I can show you how I bodged this together.

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I wanted to make a terrace out of wood, almost like a wooden dam or a log edging at the side of a pond. So I stacked up the wood branches in a shape where it felt the wood flowed nicely and then I added a branch in a contrasting angle for 'tension' A.K.A I thought it looked nice. Then I super glued the bits together with kitchen roll and stuffed the gaps with a mixture of sponge and the more plasticky version of polystyrene (I'm not sure what it's called). I didn't actually glue those in place which I may come to regret later but hey.

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Then I added a thin layer of crushed lava rock, Tropica substrate, followed by Tropica soil and Tropica soil powder on top (Yes please, Tropica sponsor me... just kidding?!?! 👀). I knew it was stupid whilst I was doing it but I did it anyway; I poured lots in and then had to spoon it out to fit the plugs in. I had to remind myself I was planting plugs and not tissue culture. You can see from the picture where I made tiered sections for plants that can handle deeper water vs shallow marginals using sponge and corregated plastic.

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Then I planted everything in place! This is the current plant list;

Imperata cylindrica 'Red Baron'
Oenanthe javanica 'Flamingo'
Houttuynia cordata 'Flame'
Rhynchospora colorata
Rotala rotundifolia
Murdannia keisak
Persicaria 'Sao Paulo'
Hydrocotyle verticillata
Hydrocotyle tripartita
Hydrocotyle leucocephala
Ludwigia palustris 'Super Red'
Lindernia rotundifolia
Pogostemon erectus
Phyllantus fluitans
Duckweed
Eleocharis parvula
Lilaeopsis brasilliensis
Utricularia graminifolia
Monosolenium tenerum
Vesicularia 'Mini Christmas'
Juncus ensifolius (incoming soon)
Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea' (incoming soon)

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This picture shows the quick plan of what I was hoping for it to look like, compared to what I've got so far.

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I added a coloured acetate background to it as I thought it would enhance the effect of it feeling like a cross section of a pond. I imagine from a fish's perspective it's mostly dark and green. I think it makes the closeup shots look really cool, but it's also really interesting to see how the tone of it changes throughout the day and what effect that brings. In the day it's more turquoise and when the sun begins to set it gets progressively more green.

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I filled it up slowly with 100% rainwater which I initially thought was giving me a TDS of 100 but when I tested the pure rainwater it's actually more like 30. 😬 Fine for the plants but if I want any shrimp in there I'll have to cut it with a bit of tap water.

I can't wait for it to grow in and get brimming with life!

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Meanwhile in the outdoor pond, I have a juicy biofilm and an Aponogeton distachyos which has one flower in bloom. That is my signal that the pond is ready for life ;) Some more plants will be going into all 3 outdoor ponds as well as some fish!

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Laoshan

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After reading this I immediately grabbed the measuring tape to measure up my windowsill. Great post and very inspiring 😅. I especially like the background effect you devised.
 

Courtneybst

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After reading this I immediately grabbed the measuring tape to measure up my windowsill. Great post and very inspiring 😅. I especially like the background effect you devised.
Thank you! It would be great to see yours if you do set one up.

It's very satisfying how it fits perfectly on the windowsill with less than a cm spare. The last one overhung and it bothered me.
 
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This one has presented a new challenge in that most of the light is backlit so makes the shots really shadowy, but then focusing on the tank makes the back really blown out and stark white. Any tips on that?
Any scene that has high contrasts of dark and light will prove a challenge. I get round it with Photoshop. You can merge two pictures together and bring back in the properly exposed areas of each photo.

Failing that, you could try

a) setting your exposure on your camera or phone to the area of your scene that is a "middling" green or grey shade. That will balance it as best it can

or

b) try exposing for the brightly lit area and bringing your shadows back up with editing. This will have varying results. You may find shadowed areas go grainy

or easiest of all

c) get a large piece of white baking paper or a cheap photographic reflector and place it behind the tank before taking pictures. This will let light through, but it will be diffused

I did the latter when taking this photo and it worked well (I was intentionally aiming for an high key, bright background):

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Courtneybst

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Any scene that has high contrasts of dark and light will prove challenge. I get round it with Photoshop. You can merge two pictures together and bring back in the properly exposed areas of each photo.

Failing that, you could try

a) setting you exposure on your camera or phone to the area of your scene that is a "middling" green or grey shade. That will balance it as best it can

or

b) try exposing for the brightly lit area and bringing your shadows back up with editing. This will have varying results. You may find shadowed areas go grainy

or easiest of all

c) get a large piece of white baking paper or a cheap photographic reflector and place it behind the tank before taking pictures. This will let light through, but it will be diffused

I did the latter when taking this photo and it worked well (I was intentionally aiming for an high key, bright background):

View attachment 186952
Thank you for the advice! That's a pretty cool photo as well 😁 I used to do product photography so I should know these things but it's been so long.

In the end I started doing what you mentioned in option b; taking the photo with the whole thing in focus but the upper half correctly exposed and the lower half under exposed. Then I bring up the shadows and increase the contrast slightly so it doesn't look washed out and it seems to work! I'll let you all be the judge.
 

Courtneybst

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I've aptly renamed this journal 'and everything else' since I now have several small ponds, emersed projects and other adventures that don't quite need their own journal. So I'll be adding everything else here! This is a LONG post, maybe my longest ever, I don't recommend reading this if you don't have food nearby. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Return of the (Stickle)back
Firstly, I want to rewind slightly to 2 weeks ago when @shangman and I went to our local country park to look for native plants and Sticklebacks. It was a beautiful, roaring hot day and it was perfect for connecting with our local nature. Judging by some of the photos, it could have been South London, could have been South America...
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We didn't remember to bring our wellies so we were limited to what we could fish out from the edge of the stream. That meant adult Sticklebacks were a little harder to get. The juveniles were surprisingly very easy to catch, and I think over the course of the day I netted out 20+, but I wasn't satisfied until I could catch an adult. Just before we were about to give up (and were having a chat with a local bird watcher) I caught an adult in a very still, shallow and enclosed part of the stream! This is the first time I've done any kind of fishing so I was chuffed to have success on the first try with just a little aquarium net. I did put the adult back but took a couple of the juveniles for the terracotta pond (all still doing well!).
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There was a surprisingly wide variety of plants there too, most of the names escape me but it was cool to see what can actually grow in our area and these conditions. Speaking of conditions I also took a test of the water and the parameters were quite wild! I thought the parameters would be similar to rainwater but I suppose there's a lot of materials adding to that water as it runs down stream. The Sticklebacks are also clearly hard as nails and very adaptable.

TDS ~500
pH 8
GH 43
KH 29
NO3 - 20

One up, one down
This week I visited Wildwoods Enfield again to get some of the last plants for my main pond area, and to pick up some eagerly awaited ricefish.

As ever, Dan and Keith endeavour to make the visit a pleasant experience and helped me with plant and fish choices for many different projects. Very grateful to know them! Also thank you to the rest of the team, who's names I should really know by now...

To the tall pond I added Thalia dealbata which adds a great tropical feel and some much needed height to it. I'm also planning to make some hanging wabi kusa with garden wire and aquasoil-filled mesh bags over the edge and plant it with Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea' so it spills over like a country cottage. I haven't quite figured out how to make it look as nice as possible but I will! I thought about maybe covering the finished mesh bags in willow moss or something to make it less of an eyesore. Any suggestions are welcome. There is also a comical amount of live food in this tank which I'm sure will go down well with any inhabitants. Inside the pond there's also Nymphaea 'Princess Elizabeth', Elodea densa, Phyllantus fluitans and Duckweed.
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To the main ponds, I added some more Bog Pimpernel to the right hand side shelf and I've left them in their original pots because you can't see them with all the thick growth. I also adjusted the plant setup on the margins to feature Lilaeopsis brasilliensis, Pilularia globulifera and Eleocharis acicularis in a sliding gradient based on their leaf thickness. It looks like the Lilaeopsis might suffer ill fate though as the slugs have taken a liking to it!
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Down below, I added two bulbs of Trapa natans, Hottonia palustris, Hornwort, Water lettuce (more for the roots so ricefish could attach their eggs to) and Luronium natans. I've decided I'll remove the Aponogeton distachyos because the leaf shape and size doesn't fit and the snails decimate it anyway. The Callitriche stagnalis from the stream went into the terracotta section as well as some Juncus ensifolius, Typha minima and Imperata cylindrica 'Red Baron'.
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Additionally, I added some long long awaited Black Medaka to the pond. Since I discovered Ricefish the black variety were high on my wishlist and I've been waiting months and months but Wildwoods were finally able to get them in! They are really stunning and the black is so classic - they go really well with the golden and platinum Ricefish already in there. Interestingly, as soon as I put them in there all the other previously shy Ricefish came to the surface and I now see all of them a lot more! Maybe they just needed more of them to feel secure? Either way I'm super happy!
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Let there be (less) light
The Pico Pond got an update too! I think I was caning it with light on this tank and so it had a big green algae bloom. To be honest I actually like the way it looks because it resembles a real pond. Sterile ponds make me feel a bit weird, like what's going on in this thing making it so clean??? But it was getting so thick that I couldn't see into the tank. So I removed the light and at the moment this tank is only growing with sunlight. I may add the light back on in the autumn/winter as the sunlight hours drop off but for now it doesn't need it. In fact, I've had to start adding TNC complete already because the nitrates are always reading negligible and the plant growth slowed.
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Most of the carpet was removed as it was covered in algae but also because I decided I didn't want it anymore. I replaced it with some Druid stone I got from WIO and I much prefer it - it fits the theme better in my opinion. The shrimp prefer it too because now I actually see them whereas before you wouldn't know anything was in there. Oh yes, I haven't mentioned the shrimp lol...
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I added 10 Crystal Red Caridina kindly gifted to me by @Sid.scapes and 4 Red Neocaridina from my IAPLC tank. The cherry shrimp wasted no time and became berried almost immediately! I haven't spotted any berried crystals but time will tell. They've been in there 2/3 weeks and seem happy munching away on biofilm and the occasional feed. I added some trimmings of lilaeopsis brasilliensis and pepper grass to the emersed section to make it even wilder.
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Jarring, to say the least
Recently, I've gotten really into the idea of keeping low-tech sun-driven jars where I can put a few plant specimens into and even keep some rare plants that don't fit into my other scapes currently.
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This is the first one so far, it just features an Echinodorus 'Regine Hildebrandt', some Eleocharis parvula and Duckweed planted into some enriched Tropica Soil. That's it! I don't do anything apart from topping up and recently started adding some fertiliser as the growth slowed and the Duckweed started to look a bit yellow. It has a little bit of algae at the moment but has been fairly stable considering it's very new and very rich.
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Edible scape-ish
I've been keeping this desktop scape under wraps (literally) for several months, just letting it grow in.
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The concept was originally meant to be an edible wabi kusa but I had so much leftover Utricularia from the last one it seemed a sin to get rid of it. So the carpet area is UG and in the centre of the nest I've planted Limnophila aromatica 'mini' which has a really potent floral/herby smell. To the right I've planted Bacopa caroliniana which has a very lush lemon fragrance and so I'm intrigued to find more edible species with nice strong smells that won't take over.
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A day out...
Yesterday @shangman and I scaped an Oase Scaperline 60 for George Farmer at his home. There is a journal for such adventures though...
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