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The Dirty Story
of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

by Pat Clifford, RBGE Senior Horticulturist
Click images to enlarge

Every year we have to partially drain the large tropical pond in order to re-soil the Victoria planters with fresh loam. Usually every fifth year we take the opportunity to drain the pond completely and give it a thorough cleaning. There comes a time when we need to remove the silt that accumulates, along with the buildup of fish waste. We also remove the rocks from the viewing chamber and clean this area. The pond holds 82,000 litres (21,662 gallons) so, as you can imagine, it requires all hands on deck to complete the job quickly and efficiently, ensuring that the many fish endure minimal stress and have every chance of survival.  


We drain the pond and then catch all the fish. They are put into big tubs with air stones. 

We sweep and scoop up as much of the mud as possible and barrow it away to the compost heaps.



We power wash the sides and floor of the pond, and remove all the rocks from the viewing chamber and clean this area.



We remove the old soil from the Victoria tubs and replace with fresh soil from the loam stack. Then the pond is refilled and the heating is turned back on.




When the pond gets up to 28°C (82°F), we put the fish back in and hope for the best.
Inevitably we lose some fish but, with trial and error, over the years we have managed to keep this to a minimum. The pond is now ready for spring when we will plant the Victorias, Nymphaeas and Nelumbos.


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