Ponds to get autumn make-over …

Despite what gardening ‘experts’ say spring is not the time to manage ponds – autumn is. Messing around in ponds in spring harms breeding creatures and does more harm than good. The Footprint Trust recently got the Royal Horticultural Society to amend its online pond advice page to reflect this fact.

Isle of Wight Pond Wardens and the Footprint Trust will be working on two public ponds to remove an invasive pest plant – parrot’s feather. It was first found in Britain in 1960 and now infests hundreds of Island ponds and possibly thousands throughout the UK. It has no natural predators and thus nothing controls it. Within a couple of years it can form a dense cover of vegetation, which excludes light and thus prevents native aquatic plants from growing. Despite the harm it does it is still sold in garden centres sometimes labelled as ‘Oxygemnator’ or Brazilian Water-milfoil. The Footprint Trust backs the national Plantlife charity in calls for garden centres to stock genuine British native plants such as rigid hornwort and lesser spearwort, rather than pests such as parrot’s feather.

The first pond to be worked on will be Treefields Pond on the outskirts of Ryde on Thursday 29th October from 10.30am, during half-term week. This pond is owned by South Wight Housing, who have been working with local residents, the Footprint Trust and the IW Pond Wardens for many years and thus the pond is one of the best in the area for diversity of aquatic life.

The second pond to be managed will be in Seaclose Park, Newport, on Saturday 14th November from 10am until noon. This work is being carried out with the support of Newport Parish Council, who brought the pond to the attention of the Footprint Trust last year. Local parish councillor Jackie Hawkins was concerned about litter in the pond and the invasive plant. The IW Council’s Park’s & Countryside section were pleased to be able to co-operate and thus the pond is to get some assistance.

Local residents are welcome to come along and assist at both events – all children must be accompanied and cared for by parents or guardians.

Sophie Thomas, Plantlife’s Invasive Species Officer said: ‘Parrot’s-feather is bad news for everyone – for the other plants and wildlife for whom Treefields Pond was home, and for unsuspecting gardeners who have to battle against it in their own ponds. We are delighted that these ponds are being salvaged.’

Free Plantlife leaflets on the invasive pond plants will be available at these pond events.

For more details about the events or to become a Pond Warden – contact the Footprint Trust on (01983) 82-22-82.