20+ years ago when we were new here, I would come home from work each day in late summer and spend an hour digging a hole for a pond in the garden and heaping up the excavated spoil into a hill for the eventual creation of a waterfall. I had not realised quite how hard the soil gets in a Montreal high-heat summer or I would have left this task to the following spring, or got some dynamite, but that’s a lesson learned.

Anyway, it’s now twenty years on and much pleasure has been taken from the pond, both by us and by the many birds and mammals that make use of it. In fact the waterfall in particular has proven to be a considerable “bird magnet”. Last year the pond started to lose water faster than it should and this spring things are worse. I know at what level the leak must be by how low the surface gets before no more runs out but I am blowed if I can find the location. I suspect it’s that the butyl liner hidden beneath a bonded felt surface layer has become brittle with age and probably has fine cracks near a seam.

I tried the cheapest option of using a spray-on sealant which helped but didn’t fix it. So we need a contractor and the first is coming this weekend to have a look and give us a quote. I need a contractor as I am 20 years older than when I placed the big rocks around the edge and I know my limits … also I was told to “be sensible at your age”. This is sad, but also reality.

Meanwhile, and this is the bit I am proud of, I installed a bit of plumbing in the pond consisting of a hose pipe with a float valve that is doing a sterling job keeping the water level high and stable. It doesn’t look at all attractive but it does do what needed doing as a temporary fix. I am blowing my own trumpet about this because engineering of any sort is way outside my usual level of ability . In fact, to actually conceive of a solution, design it, source the parts and install it – and have it work first time is a new chapter in my longish life. Even better is the fact that it cost less than $50.

Just after I had finished writing this blog (now updated) and we were visited by the guy who will probably be chosen to do the work for us – the main thing being not to have the pond ripped apart during May bird migration. He has plenty of really good ideas that fit with our vision of the garden being for wildlife as much as it is for us. Looking forward now to his drawings and quotation … it’s not going to be cheap but at our age and with expensive visits to Europe being on the back burner for at least another year, possibly two, we are going to do this properly. One feature we discussed and really like is to make the waterfall, which after all is the main feature and the bird-magnet, a good bit wider with increased water flow and possibly a second shallow pool part way down.

There will be more illustrated posts on this project as the year progresses. Exciting.