Florence Court garden pond project gets underway

As part of the on-going project to restore the walled garden at Florence Court to its former glory, work is underway to replace the old dam, improve water quality and enhance the appearance of the garden ponds.

‘The ponds were historically a prominent feature of the original walled garden,’ reveals Head Ranger Alan Houston.

‘They were filled with fresh flowing water and the family members and their guests came to enjoy a walk along its banks, delighting in the wildlife and plants that it attracted.

‘A few years ago we identified that the old dam, built by the Forest Service in the mid-1970s, was simply no longer fit for purpose. It had deteriorated allowing too much water to escape, resulting in a build-up of mud and silt and a lack of fresh water being retained in the ponds. This mud bed then became colonised with weeds and sally bushes and was unattractive to both wildlife and the visiting public.'

The project to replace the dam was given the go ahead in 2015 and work commenced this autumn with the successful removal of the old dam. It is hoped with dryer conditions that a new steel reinforced concrete dam can be constructed at the same historic location.

Dredging and silt removal

The next stage will involve the dredging of the pond to remove the silt that has built up over the years. But as with so much conservation work, this task is weather dependent and relies on a dry spell of weather to help dry out the silt, something Fermanagh hasn’t seen much of this season.

‘The weather dictates the next stage of the project,’ adds Alan. ‘The recent heavy rain means the pond is badly water logged which makes digging it out virtually impossible.’

When the sun shines and dredging does get underway Alan expects an incredible 300-400 tons of silt material to be removed, lowering the pond level by around three feet, clearing the way for fresh water and the plants and wildlife it attracts.

‘In early 2017 we aim to complete the project by dredging the upper pond and partially diverting a stream to increase the volume of fresh water entering the pond, encouraging wildlife and desirable vegetation,’ Alan continues.

Funding and how you can help

The dam and garden pond project has been centrally funded by the National Trust however funds are limited and donations from members and supporters is both necessary and very much appreciated by the team at Florence Court.

It is estimated to take 2-3 weeks to complete the lower pond project and over the winter months the surrounding area will recover and the pond and adjoining shrubbery will quickly re-establish itself.
Visitors to the walled garden at Florence Court next spring can look forward to seeing new water plants and wildlife returning to the area and the pond once again becoming a central feature in this beautiful garden.

If you would like to make a donation to the Pond Project look out for donation boxes at Florence Court or contact 028 6634 8249. Alternatively email florencecourt@nationaltrust.org.uk.

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Fri 23 Oct 2020
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