A hard couple of days doing essential maintenance on the aquatic part of the estate [pond out the back: Ed]. Twenty years ago we put in a couple of baskets of snakegrass and of irises. Since then they have grown and spread, creating huge rootballs and great dollops of smelly mud, each generation of plants dying back to form a new layer of mulch for the next. Almost imperceptibly the plants had taken over more than half of the surface area and their weight was such that it was impossible to shift them. It was time to act.
Yesterday we managed to cut through the soft mud and remove it, piece by piece, until with some careful levering of a spade the rootballs could be freed and lifted. To my surprise the baskets were still there - I had assumed they must have rotted away long ago. Today we finished the job of clearing up and tomorrow I aim to take all the debris to the dump.
The final job is to put the fish back. They are slippery little blighters. Once we began cutting into the vegetation, the pond rapidly filled with filthy water and it was necessary to remove the fish. But because they hide under the plants, these had to be cleared first. This meant the water was so full of mud that nothing could be seen and the only way to catch the fish was to trawl around with a net or a bucket then inspect the contents as they were emptied. One by one, as I poured water into the drains, a flopping little body would emerge for me to decant into a fresh holding tank. I think I got them all in the end but I won't know for sure until they go back in.
We have been very fortunate with the weather. Last week we holidayed in the Black Forest (and very beautiful it was too) with average temperatures in the low teens. This weekend in the UK we are in the high teens, it hasn't rained and a touch of the low twenties is promised for Monday.