Water Restoration Project

Water Restoration Project

Situated one mile from the Thames in Oxfordshire, the gardens of this former Mill House are dominated by one acre of water, including a Roman Rill that feeds the water wheel. Fed by a series of natural Chalk Springs, these also supply a stream that passes through several neighbours gardens before exiting into The Thames. In addition a pond some 25m x 11m provides yet more watery interest.

Stunning as these were, the stream and pond were in need of some tender loving care. Railway sleepers had previously been used to create a series of weirs but they had long since collapsed.

This meant that the water now flowed around them eroding the banks. Meanwhile the ponds source of water had long since disappeared and years of accumulated leaf debris had silted up the pond. This meant that such the feature was now stagnant and devoid of virtually any life.

To restore such features takes great courage on the part of the clients and skill and sensitivity on the part of the contractor.

Damming the stream proved straightforward but natural Springs kept erupting along the streams’ course washing away several of the newly created concrete footings. Eventually, with commercial pumps running 24 hrs a day, the battle was won and natural stone weirs, flanked by plantings of flag irises to reduce the scouring action of the water were established.

Meanwhile the silted up pond was drained but again kept filling up overnight. The suction effect of the silt prevented the digger from working other than at the very edges, so a commercial tanker sucked out the slurry, all 36m3. The slurry was extremely rich in nutrients and almost peat like, so was added to a lagoon of pig slurry to later be spread on farmers fields who treat the mixture as black gold.

A marginal shelf was created from sandbags and later planted with a mass of Scirpus, water forget me knot and water bistort. This being the only aquatic plant still alive when we first started restoring the pond. Meanwhile inspired by what was growing naturally on the edge of a nearby golf course, a pallet of Tufted vetch, purple loosestrife and meadowsweet was planted along the ponds edge.

Finally a green oak jetty was created, flanked by a mass plantings of silver Coyote Willows and fritillaries, which provides a great place to sit and think

With a new source of clean water feeding the pond via the stream, the pond was rapidly recolonised by moorhens and mallards. With the work being completed in November, the sense of anticipation for what the coming season holds as the plantings get established is almost unbearable….

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Homes and Gardens feature

Homes & Gardens May edition 2021