Journalists, Bloggers and Photographers, join us on 13th Feb 1.30pm-4pm to explore our Natural Pool and 5 acre Ellicar Gardens

Ellicar Gardens, Nottinghamshire opens Tuesday February 13th 1.30pm-4pm for Garden and Wildlife Journalists, Bloggers and Photographers

Started from scratch from an overgrown field 7 years ago, Ellicar Gardens, a vibrant, 5-acre family garden is a haven for wildlife, as beautiful in the depths of winter as the height of summer.

Here you will enjoy sweeping borders with contemporary, naturalistic planting, where grasses and seed heads are left standing throughout winter as much for their textural beauty as to support the diverse wildlife that has come to live in this garden in a few short years. With a dusting of frost or back lit by the low winter sun, this is a magical landscape during the colder months.

 grasses and perennials behind our Natural Pool enhanced with frost and morning sun

grasses and perennials behind our Natural Pool enhanced with frost and morning sun

Ellicar Gardens is a relaxed, informal family garden where self-seeding is celebrated and wildlife is welcome. It demonstrates the vital role gardens and landscapes play in providing habitat for our wildlife.

 seed heads and grasses left standing weave a sepia tapestry around the gardens and feed our birds in winter 

seed heads and grasses left standing weave a sepia tapestry around the gardens and feed our birds in winter 

In winter the garden is alive with wild birds. Already 23 species of birds on the Red and Amber Birds of Conservation Concern List thrive and live here. Visitors will enjoy seeing charms of gold finches feasting on a stands of teasels; starlings bathing noisily in the shallows of our Natural Pool and sparrows squabbling over artichoke seed heads in the Rose Garden. Seven species of bats have recently been recorded around our Natural Pool and the healthy amphibian population here feeds our copious grass snakes, which lay their eggs in steaming compost heaps around the gardens.

 Goldfinch bathing in the shallows of our Natural Pool

Goldfinch bathing in the shallows of our Natural Pool

In summer the borders vibrate with diverse butterflies, bumblebees and insects. At ground level invertebrates feed creeping birds and hedgehogs and Voles feed our resident Tawny owls, Barn owls and Kestrels- all three species nesting and successfully rearing their young in our garden.The garden is in good health, free from pests and diseases and these higher predators indicate a diverse ecosystem.

 long tailed tits visit the garden in winter 

long tailed tits visit the garden in winter 

For garden lovers, in late February the Winter Garden is a sensory treat with vibrant coloured Cornus, pathways edged with sweet smelling sarcococca, fragrant Daphnes and swathes of sultry hellebores studded with snowdrops carpet the floor beneath silver birch trees.

 hellebores in the Winter Garden

hellebores in the Winter Garden

 

At the heart of the garden is our spectacular Natural Pool, fringed with coloured willows and vibrant red dogwoods. In summer we swim in its crystal clear water with dragonflies, newts and swallows dipping and our kingfisher regularly uses the deck chairs as a hunting perch. Stunning in winter, the pool is like a giant sky mirror reflecting tree silhouettes and mirroring the sky.

 Sky Mirror, our Natural Pool sits at the heart of Ellicar Gardens

Sky Mirror, our Natural Pool sits at the heart of Ellicar Gardens

 

Ellicar Gardens opens Fridays throughout summer, and on Februray 25th for the National Garden Scheme. 

Amongst the 5 acres visitors will enjoy exploring the children’s garden, willow maze, woodland walk, plant courtyard, orchard, gravel garden and rose garden. Added attractions include a Tea Room with home baked cakes and the Murch family’s small holding of rare breeds animals. Visitors can say hello to Sarah’s friendly Golden Guernsey goats, Kune Kune pigs, Hebridean sheep, native ponies, our giant Toulouse guard goose and a tribe of Pekin Bantams who wander freely around the gardens.

 coloured willows and cornus flaming with colour in winter

coloured willows and cornus flaming with colour in winter

Ellicar Gardens is a great day out for families, wildlife enthusiasts and garden lovers alike.

Entry for NGS £4.50 adults, children free, includes combined admission to Holmes Villa, Walkeringham. Teas served in Walkeringham village hall.

 

For further information and opening dates for summer 2018 see:

www.ellicargardens.co.uk

Ellicar Gardens, Carr Rd, Gringley on the Hill, Doncaster, Notts DN10 4SN

 

To book onto our Press Day please contact Sarah at sarah@ellicargardens.co.uk

 

10 Ways to stop Leaves destroying your Natural Pool this Autumn

Sarah Murch suggests 10 Ways to stop Leaves destroying your Natural Pool this Autumn

 Sorbus thibetica John Mitchell around Ellicar Gardens Natural Pool - note these large leaves float and are easy to remove from the water

Sorbus thibetica John Mitchell around Ellicar Gardens Natural Pool - note these large leaves float and are easy to remove from the water

 

Did you know that a mature oak tree could have up to half a million leaves?

 

Or a silver birch up to 200K leaves?

 

Each falling Leaf is a Nutritional Bullet

As every gardener knows, leaf mould, made from composted leaves, is the best SRF (slow release fertiliser) available.

Nature is clever. Falling leaves decomposing on the woodland floor, drip-feed perfectly balanced nutrients of NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium, the building blocks for plant growth) back to the very trees they have fallen from.

Trees and Water- can they work together?

Autumn is a glorious season. All about trees and blazing leaf colour. Trees and water are a wonderful combination…Reflections, vertical and horizontal elements.

Unfortunately leaves left in water are bad news for a Natural Pool or pond and lead to anaerobic conditions, nutrient imbalance, invariably causing algae problems in Spring.

 

So how can you manage the potentially millions of leaves that fall in and around your pond or Natural Pool this time of year?

 

Prevention is better than cure.

1 Prevent leaves from reaching the water by creating buffer strips of planting which trap leaves a distance away from the water.

 Buffer strips of beautiful planting are designed around a Natural Pool to trap leaves before they reach the water

Buffer strips of beautiful planting are designed around a Natural Pool to trap leaves before they reach the water

Consider netting your pond or Natural Pool in Autumn.

Small Natural Pools, particularly those with a regular shape, are easy to fit with a net during leaf fall, which catches leaves before they enter the water. This can be planned for at construction stage with discreet fixings in place ready to install a net quickly and easily in autumn.

 

Rake up Leaves before they reach the Water.

 Raking up leaves before they enter the water at Ellicar Natural Pool

Raking up leaves before they enter the water at Ellicar Natural Pool

2 Here at Ellicar Gardens, we rake up the leaves daily from around our large Natural Pool. We find a large plastic leaf rake perfect for this job. We leave a bulk bag standing beside the water throughout Autumn and top it up with leaves every day, then cart it away to compost once it is full. This repetitive activity is great exercise and has a certain feel good factor about it, especially on a sunny, Autumn day. In fact I can think of far worse jobs!

Five minutes of leaf raking a day is better than a long, tedious, soggy session after a week of leaf fall.

 

Power Tools

3 For serious leaf fall situations, we use a garden blower to blow the leaves away from the water’s edge, trap them somewhere and collect them- this is also great for a quick fix mid week, if you are short of time. Just make sure the leaves are well trapped, they have a nasty habit of blowing back again.

 

Using the Pool Net

 Netting out leaves from the pool before they sink to the bottom 

Netting out leaves from the pool before they sink to the bottom 

4 The trick here is to net out leaves from the water’s surface before they sink to the bottom.

Be vigilant about this- most leaves float for a while, become trapped amongst the water lilies and marginal plants and are quite easy to skim out with a pool net on a telescopic pole.

If they are not removed in Autumn they will sink to the bottom of the pool where they become tricky to remove.

 

Empty Surface Skimmers

5 During leaf fall, check pool skimmers twice a day

Your pool skimmer is designed to trap surface debris and during Autumn it will be working hard catching leaves and may require emptying twice or three times a day.

 

Vacuum the Swim Zone

6 Leaves on the bottom of the swim zone are easily removed using a pool vacuum. It is best to do this once leaves have finished dropping, or during your Natural Pool’s Winter Service.

 

Rake out Leaves from the Plant Filter

 cutting back the reeds in the filtration area of Ellicar Natural Pool. This area will be raked to remove debris and any trapped leaves

cutting back the reeds in the filtration area of Ellicar Natural Pool. This area will be raked to remove debris and any trapped leaves

7 Leaves trapped amongst the reeds in the Plant Filter (a Natural Pool’s filtration area) are easy to rake out using a plastic leaf rake. This is best done after leaf fall and during the Winter Service after the reeds have been cut back.

 Collecting leaves and cut reeds form a young Natural Pool during Winter Servicing

Collecting leaves and cut reeds form a young Natural Pool during Winter Servicing

 

Check for trapped Leaves

IMG_2497.JPG

8 Be vigilant and check your entire Natural Pool for leaf trap areas, such as around boulders, or under the decking overhang.  Sometimes leaves become trapped behind the deck skirt of a jetty. You will need to remove these by hand.

 

Remove Leaves from the Regeneration Zones

9 Leaves that sink to the bottom of the Regeneration Zone (deep water aquatic areas) pose more of a problem – if left they will decompose and form a sludgy, black, anaerobic layer, which is bad news for your pool.

These leaves are tricky to remove. We cut back some of the deep water aquatic plants during a Natural Pool’s Winter Service, so any leaves tangled up with the water plants are easily removed with a rake and net. Then we use the vacuum nozzle to carefully remove leaves on the top of the clay surface- not easy and a job best left to your pool service team.

 

Position Trees around the Water with Care

 Trees around Ellicar Natural Pool are carefully selected and positioned to reduce leaf fall into the water

Trees around Ellicar Natural Pool are carefully selected and positioned to reduce leaf fall into the water

10 If you are planning a new pond or Natural Pool and would like to incorporate trees around the water, bear in mind the implications of leaf fall. Some species are more suitable than others.

We have planted over 270 specimen trees around our own Natural Pool here at Ellicar Gardens and have a few tricks up our sleeve when it comes to trees, managing leaves and water.

More about this in another blog though.

 

Please feel free to contact us for further information on Winter Natural Pool care, leaf management or guidance for selecting and positioning trees around water.

 http://www.ensata.co.uk/contact/

 

 

Your Natural Pool in Spring

 

We are enjoying a long, drawn out spring here at Ellicar Gardens, with our own Natural Pool reaching 17C in late March, we are already swimming regularly and have been preparing our pool for the summer swimming season ahead.

Ensata’s Top Tips for getting your pool ready for the swimming season:

1. Brush down the sides and coping walls with a long reach, pool brush.

2. Thoroughly vacuum the swim zone floor.

3 Gently rake out any leaves trapped amongst the reeds and use the net to lift debris from the regeneration zones.

4. Now’s the time to be vigilant about algae- if your pool appears murky in early spring, it will most likely have single cell algae, try adding some water fleas -daphne- they eat single cell algae and will clear the water in a couple of days.

5. If you see filamentous algae appear, particularly in shallow water areas don’t panic, this usually happens in early spring as the water warms up and before the water plants have started growing. Remove the algae with a net and keep the skimmer clear.

The pool usually settles down as soon as the water plants begin to grow.

6. Natural Pools with excess algae problems in spring will most likely be suffering from a water imbalance – call us for a consultation and water test.

7. It is important to boost the growth of your water plants, so start feeding them in early May once they come into growth. We supply plant feed with the correct nutrients for Natural Pools.

8. Try to encourage oxygenator growth - if necessary we will replant oxygenators in your pool.

9. Wildlife:Look in your regeneration zones for newts, tadpoles, pond life activity and bats- all these are active in our own pool now- a good sign the swimming season is around the corner.

10. Start your routine swimming season maintenance program now.

We find using a pool robot once a fortnight for half an hour has cut down dramatically the time we spend vacuuming our pool during the summer months.

Contact us for a demonstration or to place an order.

We wish you all a happy swimming season from the Ensata Team!

The future is bright for commercial Natural Pools in the UK

A couple of European trends have crossed the Channel and are gaining momentum in the UK - Wild Swimming and Glamping.

Both fulfill our desire to spend time in green spaces, to wind down from hectic lifestyles and enjoy the simpler pleasures of life.

So it’s not surprising we are seeing a premium landscaping market emerging in the UK, catering for both trends – Glamping sites with bespoke Natural Pools.

Natural Pools have long been popular as an ecological alternative to conventional swimming pools on the greener continent, since Austrian company Biotop developed the first Natural Pool 30 years ago.

Harnessing the natural cleaning powers of aquatic plants to filter and purify the water, along with special water balancing equipment and hydraulics, Natural Pools have come a long way in recent years.  Now widely accepted as a commercial alternative to conventional pools, there is an international, industry standard for water quality and hygiene, the German FLL, setting the benchmark high with quality assurance for pool users and owners.

The growing market for Eco-Tourism in Europe has seen an increase in demand for Natural Pools in Spa Hotels, with the Sauna/Natural Pool combination offering ultimate luxurious, relaxation.

Public Natural Pools like the popular 6300m2 Austrian Gaschurn, complete with whitewater raft ride, are widespread.

The Glamping sector is growing too, with complexes like Garden Village Lake Bled in Slovenia, with its Natural Pool as focal point of the campsite attracting international tourists.

In the UK, the 22-acre LovetoStay Glamping Resort in Shrewsbury is attracting media interest. Soon to open, with 20 Glamping lodges and 120 caravan pitches, the focal 400m2 Natural Pool, surrounded by sundecks and designed by Poolscape, is sure to be popular with visitors.

The UK’s first public Natural Pool, the ‘Kings Cross Pond’ opened in 2015, built by Kingcombe. This iconic Natural Pool in the centre of London, popular with swimmers from all over the country, sadly recently closed - always destined to be a temporary installation.

Here at Ensata, our own Ellicar Natural Pool attracts the public throughout summer.

We have seen enquiries for commercial Natural Pools increase in recent years, and have designed and consulted for projects including hotel spa pools; a large Natural Pool at the heart of a prestigious, residential development in London; and are currently designing an exciting new Glamping site in Yorkshire with a focal Natural Pool.

With 5 children of our own, we choose our holiday destinations close to water. From toddlers to teenagers, water restores and entertains us all. It is easy to imagine Glamping sites with Natural Pools will become popular holiday destinations for families in the UK.

Natural Pools have a positive, ecological impact for wildlife. They are chemical free, have low running costs, low maintenance requirements and are beautiful all year.

Contemporary or naturalistic in design, they challenge us to be creative in and around the water, with bespoke hard landscape detailing such as water cascades, rills, jetties, boulders, diving platforms, sundecks, beaches, terraced living areas with fire pits, outdoor kitchens, atmospheric lighting and of course there are such wonderful soft landscaping opportunities around the water’s edge.

We are excited about the future for Natural Pools in the UK, in the domestic, municipal and commercial sectors and look forward to creating more of these beautiful and diverse, living water systems to enrich people’s lives.