Autumn is one of the busiest times of year for us on our parks and open spaces. Now that young birds have fledged, we can safely cut back hard scrub. We also have a brief opportunity to tidy up our ponds, which can rapidly become overgrown. Many pond species, including frogs and dragonfly nymphs, will spend the winter tucked up in the mud at the bottom of the pond. So we need to make sure we undertake any works ahead of their hibernation. While we are eager to keep a variety of plants around our ponds, the glyceria have taken advantage of the sunshine and warm weather and grown rapidly and taken over much of what was once open water. To tackle the problem, you have to get in the deep end, pulling up plants from their roots and working from the inside of the pond towards the edges. We’re maintaining plants along the perimeter of the pond as these will be important places for emerging damselflies and dragonflies in the spring and summer.

A huge thank you to our corporate volunteer group from RBS who donned wellies and waders and got stuck in to lend a hand! Working with TCV they did a brilliant clearing job. We found resident newts, frogs and countless invertebrates more! Over the next week, we’ll be leaving the removed vegetation at the edges of the pond, so any pondlife that might have gotten caught up in the fray can slip quietly back into the water. But there’s no need to worry about the wildlife, opening open the ponds will improve the habitat for them. In fact, as the team took a quick break for tea, frogs popped up across the pond, dragonflies whirred along the surface and wrens came down from our hedges for a drink. The wildlife may not be able to thank you for your hard work themselves, but we certainly can. Thank you! We couldn’t do it without you. To find out more about volunteering at Mudchute (as a team or an individual) please visit our volunteering page.

Preparing some of the hundreds of new plants.

Preparing some of the hundreds of new plants.

Today Froglife joined us on our wildlife ponds to continue to improve the area for wildlife. A few months since our big cleanup, the ponds are looking much better and teeming with wildlife. However, some of the more aggressive plants have begun to dominate the area and we can make the ponds even better for wildlife by encouraging greater diversity in our plantlife.

To help us do this, Vanessa Barber and Alex Draper from Froglife came down to help us plant up the ponds with a greater variety of native species. Armed with over 300 individual plants of many different species, we worked to add a range of textures and habitats to the ponds. Our aim is to create lots of different areas to the ponds, including open water spaces as well as planted areas along the edges (with great growth for emerging invertebrates like damselflies and dragonflies), as well as vegetation beneath the water to provide food, oxygen and shelter for aquatic life. Last but not least we can add floating plants, which wildlife can use as refuges and an anchor for their eggs.

We spotted lots of wildlife during the planting including frogs, newts, spiders, bumblebees, damselflies and beetles of all sorts. It’s great to see wildlife making our ponds home and we hope the new planting and other new wildlife initiatives will encourage even more wild creatures to take up residence.


Today we officially launched our new and improved ponds! The afternoon was a celebration of pond life with activities including pond dipping, wildlife-themed arts and crafts and opportunities to discover some the wild residents of Mudchute’s ponds with our visitors.

mudchute-easter14-3260Over the winter, we worked with Tower Hamlets and Froglife to restore and improve our ponds (see details here) and we’ve already noticed common frogs making the new and improved ponds a breeding site. Today’s pond dipping activities gave us a chance to look below the surface.

Using the new viewing platform as a base, pond dippers of all ages and experience levels took part in exploring pond life. We got a fantastic glimpse at many of our wild aquatic residents, which included tadpoles, water boatmen, young newts, caddisfly and damselfly larvae as well as lots of ramshorn snails and hoglice (an aquatic cousin of the familiar woodlouse).

We hope all our visitors enjoyed the day as much as we did and we look forward to watching our new ponds and their wild residents grow and mature! You can find more photos of the day’s activities below. Thank yo again to all who took part!