Most of us have a favourite thing in our garden which we wouldn't want to be without. For some this might be a neatly mown lawn or a beautiful fine leaved Acer and for me, my garden is not complete without open water. So after sketching at least a dozen permutations of layouts for a man with a digger to follow, my garden has a new baby. A pond has been born – well dug actually. I don't expect it will start to look anything special until the surrounding vegetation gets into growth next spring but I know with complete faith and conviction that it will start to fulfil its main functions straight away. The sky will come down into my garden, its changing colours and moods echoed by reflections in the pond's surface and birds finding water on a dry hillside will stop to drink and bathe. I'll look forward all winter to a summer of damsel and dragon flies and I know from experience that my confidence isn't misplaced. All living things need water and having had the good fortune to be in at the birth of a lot of garden ponds, I've seen how quickly they've been visited or colonised with water fleas upward in size to newts and grass snakes and for one very lucky man, an otter. A pond comes alive when it's planted. Breathing life into it, oxygenating plants hide under the surface quietly doing just that and marginals like Iris at the edges of the water take out excess nutrients and provide vertical stems for emerging insect larvae. With their roots in the darkest depths and their big flat leaves sheltering and shading whatever is beneath, the shining star shaped flowers are the crowning glory of water lilies. From humble beginnings as a waterproofed hole in the ground to a completely self sustaining environment, a pond is a vital habitat and a resource for so many animals and birds. Mine is as big as I can reasonably fit in but just a small one is still very worthwhile so if you don't yet have a favourite part of your garden that you wouldn't want to be without a pond could be perfect.