Draining the pond revealed another problem. The three clumps of the old world Yellow Flag iris (Iris pseudacoris) on the 25 cm deep shelf had become totally basket-bound and their dense roots were so intertwined and matted that I had to cut them apart while standing in the pond. I had to this carefully, so that my shears would not puncture the pond liner. These had not flowered last year so they were due for re-potting, which will leave more than enough divisions to pass on to friends. I will consider replacing them with a less course and rampant type of Iris such the native Blue Flag, Iris versicolor.
After the pond was drained and cleaned we had a few days of rainy weather. When I went out to look later, I was startled to see to see some frantic movement in the rainwater that had collected in the deep zone. On closer inspection I found a wood frog, most likely the sole survivor of the tadpoles that I had introduced to the pond two years ago. We removed him and kept him in a moist leafy container when we refilled the pond so that he would not be harmed by the chlorinated water. Later that day, after the water had been dechlorinated and circulated for a few hours, we reintroduced him to the pond edge, where he he eased himself down into the leaf litter and mulch. It is a pleasant reminder of the day we first built the pond and, as I stood in the bottom placing rocks , a large dragonfly zoomed by and then hovered for a while over the unfilled basin, as if to ask, “What’s taking so long?” It is one of the many small pleasures of gardening with nature – a sort of official sanction, a baptism by creature.