Water Gardening in Autumn


There are still lilies in bloom, still dragonflies on the wing, but a thin skin of ice on the pool one morning is a reminder of things to be done before the real cold comes.

Dying blooms and leaves and the collapsing foliage of marginal plants must be removed. Water hyacinth (eichhornia) must be moved to the greenhouse and potted in damp soil in the hope that it will survive to be returned to the pool next May.

As long as they have the appetite fish must be fed generously to prepare them for the months when they will be living on their fat.

An oily film on the water is likely to be the result of lily foliage rotting in the water. It can be removed by laying a sheet of newspaper on the water and immediately drawing it off again along the surface. The same technique works for dust or small debris on the surface at any time of year.


Hottonia foliage makes fresh green patches underwater, Callitriche uerna on the surface; water hawthorn still flowers. Apart from these the tide of growth has ebbed away. It is time to tidy the waterside borders, to cut down the stems of perennials and of marginal plants, and spread a small-mesh nylon net over the pool to keep out blowing leaves. It will help, too, to frustrate herons and gulls which might take numbers of fish in a hard winter. But before spreading the net, transfer any marginal containers of zantedeschia to the bottom of the pool for the extra protection of deeper water.

Take up the submersible pump, clean off algae and grime, and carry out whatever simple maintenance is recommended in the operating instructions before you store it for the winter. In its place plug in the pool heater. It may not be needed for a while but it will be ready if really severe weather threatens.

And there’s next year to think of. This is a very good time to split up waterside plants, and to add new waterside plants, ferns, conifers and heathers to the pool surround. And while this season’s experiences are fresh in mind, make a note of the new lilies or marginals or other aquatics that you will want to add to the pool next season.

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