Saturday, 18 May 2013

Making A Waterfall

Trouble With Boats

      In the last blog I outlined my efforts to save the sausages and subsequent  loss of the dinghy, culminating in me clinging to a post in the middle of Barton Broad. I was waiting for the return of Lunar, captained by the redoubtable Jim Pimm. Jim was very keen. He had been made skipper of one of the five yachts for the first time this year and was out to show his mettle. Unfortunately for him, his crew consisted of me and a girl called Maisie. I was the one who was always last to be chosen when two football captains were picking their players and my position in the yachting community echoed this. Maisie was a book worm and probably very clever, though not practical when it came to boats.
      Eventually Lunar appeared, having completed a large circle, and sailed as close as the skipper dared. Through the roar of the wind I could hear him shouting something but couldn't tell what it was until they drew level.

      "Swim for it", he bawled as they reached me.

      I considered this but, taking into consideration the fact that Lunar was doing about forty miles an hour and I was by no means an olympic contender, regretfully declined the offer and continued to cling lovingly to my post.

      It took three runs before they eventually reached me at a speed suitable for me to reach them and cling on. Jim unceremoniously hauled me over the side then walked all over me under the pretext of 'keeping her out of the shallows'.

      Having survived this (for me) traumatic experience, we were now confronted with the problem of recovering the dinghy. This was  difficult not solely as a result of weather conditions, but because it was now upside down and very low in the water. Our strategy was to proceed slowly, Jim steering and myself and Maisie kneeling in the bow keeping watch and ready to cry out as soon as a sighting was made. Two factors conspired in the failure of this operation: one was Jim's idea of 'slow' and the other was the row the wind was making in the sail.

      Suddenly spotting the dinghy, Maisie shouted "we're heading straight for it".

      "We're head....."

      Crunch! Lunar sliced cleanly through the planks of the dinghy with the aplomb of an axe through Anne Bolyn's neck.

      The outcome of this little saga was that, after picking the bits up with some difficulty, Jim had the unenviable task of ringing the boatyard to say that their dinghy had 'suffered some damage'. This presumably is a nautical expression meaning 'reduced to matchwood', and it resulted in a couple of disgruntled people from the boatyard eventually turning up to remove it on the back of a lorry. I felt that the lorry was a bit optimistic actually, the boot of a car would have been quite adequate.

      And so the holiday in hell continued to evolve. I had nearly drowned, the skipper seemed to think everything that went wrong was my fault and now we had wrecked the dinghy. "It's got to get better", Maisie whispered sympathetically. But it didn't. The worst was still to come.

      Catch the stunning climax to the story in this blog, next week.

      As the theme is still based on water, it seems a good idea to talk about making a pond. If you have an interest in wildlife, there is no better way of encouraging it than by introducing water onto your plot. Newts, frogs and fish immediately spring to mind and birds love to drink and bathe in the shallows. I made one many years ago and relatively recently decided to enlarge it. The first move was to lure a friend, using Newcastle Brown and sausage butties as bait, into helping dig the hole. This worked extremely well, he doing the digging and me making (and helping eat) the sausage butties.

      We used the liner from the old pond to line the base. The weight of water can be surprising and there is a tendency for liners to be punctured by sharp stones if they are not protected. Old newspapers can  be used as padding - in fact a number of materials are useful in this context - a layer of sand works equally well. In making the original pond, I mounded the excavated soil at one end to create a rockery, from this new dig we created another mound which added more height interest to the garden and proved perfect for the creation of a heather garden. The two mounds are situated next to each other with a valley in between and create a feeling of continuity, like a range of miniature mountains. Continuity of structure is an important aspect of creating a pleasing garden: getting ideas to flow into each other.

      I'd inherited a pump from a pond the original house owner had created and this was used in my first attempt, causing a concrete frog to puke into the water from near the top of the rockery (I was never accused of being tasteful). I then wanted to improve on this by creating a stream cascading in a series of mini ponds from the top of the rockery back into the main pool. This was achieved by making a bed with bits of liner, creating interim pools and taking great care that there was no overflow of water from the structure. Small pebbles were used to create a natural stream bed and then, with a great flourish and the popping of champagne corks, I switched the pump on. The water came out in a sad trickle. Although it worked wonders in causing frogs to puke, Niagara Falls were beyond this pump's capabilities.
Creating a stream

Result spoiled by poor water flow

Further changes equally unsuccessful for same reason

      This brings me to advise careful research as to the volume of water per unit time your pump is capable of moving. Although I tried to speed up water flow by removing the pebbles and adding a non polluting paint - like material from a garden centre, the water movement was still negligible and a sad disappointment. The specialist water centres  now usually have pumps on working display, giving some idea of the flow they create, and it is well worth while looking carefully at this aspect before making your choice. A new pump would have been the obvious answer to my problem but, at this point, I couldn't afford one.

      In creating my current pond I bought a bigger pump and had it force the water  four or five feet upwards into a mini pond on top of the earth pile which was formerly the rockery. It then overflows naturally through an outlet hole back into the pond. Great care should be taken to ensure there is no water loss through the back of the waterfall, as this obviously lowers the level of the pond.

Hole with old liner at bottom
Hole showing waterfall liner to prevent leakage
Overflow pond at top feeding waterfall
Finished product


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