Here’s another favorite photo from my pond – this beautiful lotus was expensive and short-lived, but well worth it for the two summers it bloomed before we neglected it last winter and let it freeze. The pot I kept it in was huge and near impossible to move to the deep end of the pond without climbing into the water. It was late November by the time we did the clean-up that year and I just wasn’t willing to climb into the frigid water. So I pushed it from the pondside as far as I could and hoped for the best.
The first summer the flowers and leaves were huge – sometimes as big as dinner plates! It provided great shade for the goldfish and landing spots for dragonflies (I think this one is a blue darner – anyone know?) Lotus need warm water to bloom well and require a lot of fertilizer. I don’t like to add much fertilizer to my pond plants and hope that what the fish provide naturally will be enough. The second summer the lotus didn’t bloom as nicely and the leaves were much smaller because of too little fertilizer. With a weaker plant I started having trouble with aphids – they didn’t do much visible damage like they will to roses – but were still a nuisance. Maybe a stronger plant would have survived the winter, I don’t know.
I’m thinking about buying another lotus this summer if I can find one suitable to small ponds and that will not require a planter that I can’t handle alone. These plants are just too beautiful not to include in the water garden.
This weather has me worrying about my pond fish. We’ve been so disorganized this year that we still haven’t gotten the bubbler rigged up to keep the pond from freezing over. So the warm temps are a good thing in that regard, but I worry that the warmish temps are stressing them.
I hardly feed my fish during the warm months, but stop altogether from around Halloween until April Fool’s Day. With colder temps the fish don’t eat and can’t properly metabolize the food anyway, so feeding is dangerous. During a *normal* winter they just hang out down at the bottom of the pond and live-in-limbo under the ice until the world warms again. This year, however, they are pretty active and are even begging when they see me at pondside on warmish days. The warming days of spring seem to be when I’m most likely to loose a fish to disease. They are weak after the winter and are prone to bacterial attack at this time. So I’m hoping for colder weather and ice, and a bubbler.
This weekend the DH and I started work to close up the pond for the winter. This involves scooping out any leaves that have managed to find their way in, sinking the hardy plants down to the deep end of the pond, and removing lots of accumulated stuff (fish poop?) that litters the pond bottom. Despite the cooler temperatures and decreased sunlight my new water lily is still blooming.
This chore is kind of depressing and sad because it means the summer is gone. It also makes me remember all the grand plans I had for the pond this past spring, most of which I never got around to. That’s one thing about keeping a pond – it is always a work in progress! And I can spend the winter planning for next spring.
For now the goldfish are slowing down, still friendly at the pond’s edge, but not begging the way they do in warm weather every time they see your shadow go by. I had to be careful when scooping out the leaves and stuff on the bottom because once or twice I scooped up an already sleeping fish in the net.
What puzzles me are the frogs. When we first put in the pond we added a few tadpoles for fun – some just seemed to vanish and others grew into big bullfrogs like the one in the photo. We’ve had a few little green frogs show up from nowhere. But I never can find them in the fall when we do clean up, nor in the spring when we start the pump and filter running again. I’m not sure where they go to spend the winter.