Monday, 22 March 2010


Apologies for not being around peoples' blogs much these past few weeks - life got a little bit hectic and something had to give!

Anyway, back to my disaster...........!
Last July I was merrily pootling my way up the garden to pick some fruit and veg for tea a couple of weeks after the purlin ring had been put onto the tea house roof when I became aware of a strange buzzing noise working its way into my happy little world. Wandering up past the bottom pond in search of the source of the noise, I became aware that something was amiss;

The bottom pond was empty!!!!
The buzzing was the pump pumping fresh air. Whaaah!

This discovery resulted in a brief outburst of a chorus of the Yorkshire swearing song interspersed with wails of "where's all the water gone?" as I danced up and down in panic! This was NOT a happy dance, I can tell you!
(For those who don't know it, the chorus goes "bugger, bugger, pig, sod, sh*t, sod, damn"!)

I searched around, but to no avail - I just couldn't find where the water had gone. The top pond was still full, nowhere seemed boggy or soggy ...... it had well and truly vanished! I went in search of Himself, Master of Mysteries, to see if he could shed any light onto things!

Himself, having a pessimistic outlook on life (- although he claims it's realistic) immediately decided that there must be a leak in the big top pond. I pointed out that as he hadn't dropped anything sharp into the pond ....had he?, that couldn't be the reason. (nice speedy deflection of potential blame there I thought!).
I don't normally leave the stream running during the week when I'm not around, but I'd forgotten to turn it off the previous Sunday and it had been running constantly for 5 days - so I had no idea how long the pond had been empty. Himself then added in a very satisfactory worry about whether or not the pump would be wrecked from running without water flowing through it. I reckoned that, as it's a German pump, it'd be fine!

We both spent a restless night trying to figure out what had happened. Himself was holding firm on his belief that we'd have to strip out the top pond to find a leak (see - told you he was a pessimist!), but I was convinced that there was another cause - ever the optimist and trying desperately to avoid emptying the top pond of its 5000 litres of water!

The following morning showed that the top pond water level hadn't changed : QED, no leak in there (phew!). Then I remembered Ower Dave!

When Ower Dave had come to help, I'd shouted at him for walking up the stream bed - something along the lines of "gerrof me stream yer gret daft wombat!" (Translation = "please come out of my stream you silly person!"). He'd claimed that dry stream beds were just paths by another name ... too much walking up Kinder Scout Downfall and Grindsbrook together when we were younger had obviously left its mark!

All of the top pond and most of the stream has solid support under the edges of the butyl lining. The only bit that hasn't is ......... the bit of the stream where the beach is! That's just got a thin aluminium strip under it to give it some rigidity.

I reckoned that Ower Dave had marched his great clod-hopping boots right over the stones and pushed down the liner and either bent it (hopefully) or ripped it on a sharp edge (please no!). So I shifted all the stones on his possible short-cut and, after a few minutes of serious breath-holding, found that he had indeed squashed the edge, but hadn't ripped the butyl - thankfully!

The lowered edge was then below the water level of the stream and meant that the constantly running water had been able to leach its way through the stones into the moss and soil and soak invisibly away - until there wasn't enough water left to create a flow.

Much relieved by my discovery, I then cleaned out the bottom pond. Yes, I know that technically it's still just a big hole with liner in it but in my imagination it's a finished pond!!!
This summer......! :)

Anyway, I spent considerable time removing water snails, frogs and other small aquatic beasties from the pond before cleaning all the gunk out of the bottom. Very smelly and not the pleasantest of tasks - and not aided by this frog who came back FOUR times after I'd carefully deposited him in the top pond - daft creature!
I gave up and kept him in this tub where I could keep an eye on him!

I then faced up to fixing the stream bed instead of procrastinating! I dug out the soil to give me a clear area to work, unfolded the butyl, rebuilt the edging using stones instead of the aluminium strip, refolded the butyl liner down over the stones then replaced the soil, holding the new edging securely in place. I set the stream running to check that I'd not missed any tiny tears - which I hadn't, and to prove to Himself that the pump was fine - which it was! German you know. Dead good!

Once I was happy with that, I started to replace the beach - putting in some bigger stones to support the edging should some plonk with big feet decided to walk up it again!

I left the stream running constantly for a couple of days to see if the levels dropped - which they didn't, before I put the finishing touches to the stream, adding the stones and pebbles to hide the liner and spill over onto the moss .......... you'd never know I'd been messing about with it would you?!

Stream running beautifully - even if the bit below the bridge still isn't finished!

Then Autumn came and all my hard work was covered up..........

What idiot wanted to build ponds under a load of trees eh?!

The pond and island yesterday -and, yes, the moss really is that green! A combination of all that snow and lots of rain has been very good for it this winter!

And a perfect way to end the day!


The Idiot Gardener said...

Not so much a disaster as a big-footed lummox, then?

Liz said...

Oooh, Liz int ower Dave a right old plonker?

Glad you got it fixed though... Although I would be tempted to demand something off him as payment for his gert big feet.

Green Lane Allotments said...

Good job it was fishless! We had a surprise one day coming home to a geyser of water higher than the house as the pump had become disconnected. Fortnuately the geyser landed back in the pond but the nosie was deafening!

Di said...

Whew! Determined lady and the better for it. As they would say from whence I come, "you done good girl". ;) I hope you are enjoying Spring and that you make this week a great one.

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

I'm amazed your pump was OK. That said, often they have a thermal cut out if they over heat, eg no water running through them.

At least you're still on first name terms with 'ower' Dave, ha.

May your pond remain forever impermeable.

We're working flat our at the moment getting ready for the new season. Beautiful day today, unbroken sunshine and 21C.

Cheryl said...

You certainly write a good story....sorry, but I am still laughing...not at your disaster but some of your descriptions....soooo funny.

You did a great job sorting out the problem....

BTW love your moss. I have plenty here, my garden is damp for nine months of the year.

Jo said...

Hmmm, so it was all down to Ower Dave and his clodhopping feet. Still, it could have been worse. I love the rocks and moss, it looks so natural and all the effort in getting them placed 'just so' was worth it.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi TIG - 'e were a a reight old lummox indeed ... but it felt like a disaster when I found the empty pond!

Eyup Liz - he got a bit of a gobfull when I phoned him up! Plonker! Mind you, I'll have him to some more work next time he's here, so I'll get some payback!!!

Hi GAL - yes, I'm very glad I decided not to put fish in until we'd done both ponds and the tea house - although I was more worried about us dropping things on the fish than shooting them through the pump!
Your geyser sounds pretty impressive though!

Hi Di - I never let a good mystery go unsolved ... once I get over the minor panic! Thanks for that :)
Spring is happening quite quickly here now - I just wish it'd stop raining :( I ended up stripping the upstairs toilet because I couldn't get in the garden at the weekend - ho hum!

Hi Rob. As you can imagine, Himself assumed the worst and thought the pump would be stuffed but it's a posh German make so I guess you must be right about the thermal cut out.
I wasn't dead chuffed with Ower Dave that's for sure!

21C and sunshine - *sigh*! It's peeing it down here!Hope you've got lots of bookings to keep you busy?!

Hi Cheryl - I'm glad you like what I write. I love it when people enjoy my stuff!
I love the moss too - it's so vibrant at the moment. I don't think we get quite as much rain as you ... it just feels like it some days! :)

Hi Jo - it was indeed Ower Dave and his big feet ... but at least the butyl stayed intact!

Himself really didn't 'get' the concept of rocks not being right for a particular spot ... until the right rocks were in place and I'd transplanted the moss! It's all bedded in so well and is begining to age beautifully - I'm really pleased with it! :)

Shady Gardener said...

Nutty Gnome, You are wonderful! What a lot of work, but it just goes to show that sometimes things are not going to be "perfect" the first time around.

Now! What will you do to prevent "Ower Dave" from stepping where he shouldn't from now on? I've seen some rather dastardly looking contraptions used to keep cats from digging in flower beds. (I'd hate to be responsible for someone's stepping on them, though.)

Things are looking great over there. It will be fun to see this year's progress!! :-)

FlowerLady said...

So glad you had a happy outcome to this mystery.

It all looks wonderful.


Pondside said...

After all that, I hope you'll be able to just sit by the pond and sip a cool drink every evening once it's warm enough!

Cameron said...

Glad you got your stream and pump running again!

Since you're into the water feature pumps now... here's our story:

Last year, while we were having a grand time in Paris, our stream pump and our swimming pool pump were struck by an electrical storm. The breaker tripped to protect everything else along the lines, but we had to buy new pumps for each. We run our stream/waterfall pump 24x7. This year, we're not going to open the swimming pool before going away to France... and we're going to unplug our waterfall for the first time and hope our fish (one left) survives!


Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

Every morning when I look out the window at our pond I pray I won't see it empty like you did. I would've been swearing up a storm too :)
Glad it wasn't too big of a problem to fix and it looks great!
I had been wondering where you were, glad everything is okay!

LeSan said...

Oh Nutty! I know it was a nightmare of anxiety. I went through the same thing several times last summer. For me it's animals and the stupid erm...sweet little neighbor kid. I've got special issues with my stream beds; they're built right on top of the bedrock so there isn't any room to burrow down for edges. I know that sick feeling as your stomach turns over and your heart stops beating when you see that. And then you just feel like throwing up until you find out it isn't a torn liner. Thank goodness for patch kits and German pumps. :-)

Nutty Gnome said...

Morning Shady! I don't think Ower Dave'll be walking up the stream bed any more - not after the rollocking he got for causing me major stress and a weekend of work!!!

I shudder to think about the anti-cat contraptions! I'd rather put pepper down and leave 'em to it. Mind you, I have a much bigger problem with the squirrels digging things up and I haven't found ANYTHING that stops them :)

Hi FlowerLady - nice to see you again. I was glad it was fairly simple to fix once we'd worked out what (who!) had gone wrong!
Thank you - it's lovely to have all our hard work appreciated ;)
It's all maturing nicely now.

Hi Pondside. Oh I have lots of plans for sitting on that veranda watching the sun set!
The floor is down, Himself is making the door panels and knows how he's going to do the decking on the veranda. It's not going to be finished by the original timeframe of my birthday at the end of next month, but it shouldn't be too long after that .... but you'll have to wait for my blog to catch up!

Hi Cameron - I'm really glad we didn't break the pump and it's all working again!

Oh good grief - that's a far worse situation than our mini disaster! I think you're right to leave it all unplugged must have been one heck of a storm?!
Have a great time in France :)

Hi Catherine - it's nice to be missed! I must admit that for the next few weeks after the disaster I found myself holding my breath when I went up the garden ...just in case!!
Yes, I'm fine thanks. It's just been a VERY busy few weeks and the blogging went by the wayside. I'm hoping things have calmed down a bit now and I'll be back to normal ..whatever that is?!

Morning LeSan! I know I'm not quite up to your level as Disaster Queen, but I do have my moments!!

Oh dear - once was bad enough, but to find an emptying pond several times.....!(I'd have mangled that kid!) Managing to build ponds and streams where you did never fails to amaze me....respect!
Mine is such easy ground to work because even though the bedrock is only about 18" below the surface on the Japanese garden, it's only sandstone - and,as you know, makes lovely paths too! :)

joey said...

You are amazing (but you, and Himself, know that)! And I love a story, where I gasp a bit, then has a happy ending :)

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

As much as I love colorful expressions (and, truly, I do), I'm sorry you had to use them. I mean, air really doesn't need to be pumped, does it?! Though, yes, Germans are used to blowing a lot of hot air, LOL! Anyway, glad things just needed to be cleaned out and whatnot. I hope you don't mind that your experiences only confirm to me that I never want a pond in my own garden, though I do like to see them in others', LOL. Plus, I have an issue with water features making me need to be near indoors, if you know what I mean. Um, I mean, hi!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Joey - thank you for that, you're very kind! :)
I don't think I'm amazing, I'm just fairly ordinary and getting on with stuff ...... but feel free to carry on thinking that ;)

Hi Monica - there are times when I despair at my idea of two ponds ....usually in Autumn when all the leaves fall and I realise that creating ponds under trees maybe wasn't such a cunning plan!

I know what you mean about the water features issue! It gets me sometimes too. I have to confess that I might have to switch the stream off when I'm doing therapy sessions in the tea house - not sure how my clients would feel if I have to keep nipping into the house for a wee! :)

Christina said...

I followed you over from a Glowing Ember. I am going to enjoy your blog. Japanese gardens are stunning and I am very envious of yours.

Anna said...

Not sure whether I understand all the mechanics but so glad it is all sorted. My himself and your himself both have something in common - scapegoats for when things go awry but don't they come good when the chips are down :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hello Christina and welcome! Thank you for popping in to see me and I'm glad you like what we're (very slowly) trying to create!
I hope I see you again soon :)

Hi Anna - don't worry about the mechanics of it all, just blame Ower Dave!!
Himself does come in for a bit of flack at times, but he is a total star most of the time ;)

Woody Wilbury said...

We have a Yorkshire swearing song too but it's a tad coarser than yours; I'll not sully the blogosphere!

Carolynn said...

Wow, that's coming along quite nicely. I especially like the moss around the rocks. Very nice touch!

Nutty Gnome said...

Ey up Woody - It's probably the same song! I only did the chorus as I thought I'd get chucked out of the blogoshpere if i did the verses too!!!

Hi Carolynn - thanks! I'm really pleased with how the island has looks just like I envisaged it! I'm still on the lookout for the perfect plant for the path side of the rocks - a bonsai that I don't have to bonsai perhaps?!

O.I.M said...

glad you were able to pinpoint and correct your pond problem. love the lyrics to the Yorkshire swearing song!

Anonymous said...

Actions speak louder than words. ........................................

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Irena - my flippin' brother eh! I was taught the chorus of the song at mi dad's knee (usually after he'd hit his thumb with a hammer or something like that!) ..... but it was a long time before I heard the rest of it - and NOT from my dad!!!

Hello and thank you for your comment. Is there an English version of your name that I can use as I feel a bit rude not having a name for you?!

HappyMouffetard said...

Love the Yorkshiore swearing song, and glad that major problems were averted.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi HM - glad I gave you a bit of a chuckle! I was jolly relieved to realise it was only Ower Dave I can tell you!

keewee said...

Just loved your post. I wanted to end it with "and they all lived happily ever after" *chuckle*

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Say not all that you know, believe not all that you hear.......................................................

Liz said...

'ere our Liz, where's tha gone??!!!

Get yer backside at 'computer and postin' anuvva update!

Anonymous said...


Woody Wilbury said...

Yep, I'm wonderin' too. Come on our lass, stir thisen.

Shirley Landis VanScoyk said...

I dunno know, the Honey Brook, PA cursing song is a little different, but not as musical! You make me laugh! And maybe think twice about the pond I have always wanted....