Category Archives: Pond

Got rocks?

One by one he’s determined to remove every last rock from his personal wading pool (a.k.a. our little backyard pond). There’s no interest in the dry rocks on the shore; he prefers instead to snorkel for the choicest rock.

He runs around with it in his mouth like a prize, tail high in the air, before settling down for a good chew. (Yes, he eats rocks.)

He might even roll on his back some with it. Thank heavens he hasn’t discovered the joy of burying stuff yet! As it is, the DH’s patience is running thin.

Makes Luka pretty happy, though. I think he’s pleased to amuse and entertain us. (Well… me anyway.)

This is the fresh face I get should I be silly enough to reprimand him between fits of laughter. Have I mentioned lately how nutty this dog is?

Count the fishies

The first summer we put in our pond we were pretty conservative with the number of fish we provided for. I think we started with less than twenty and I worried that even that small number was too much for our 1100 gallons. There was, of course, some formula involving the number of gallons divided by the ‘inches of fish’ that confounded me, as does most math, so we sort of ignored it and hoped that we didn’t have too many fish to overload the filtration system.

Pond books also had me scared to death to actually feed them very much food. I had the idea that if I fed them too much, the pond would quickly go green and the goldfish would grow to monstrous proportions in just one season. So I fed them once a day, if I remembered.

However many years out now… 6 or 7 since we put it in… I’ve decided that most of what I read in books is baloney. Maybe you have to worry about all that crap if you have a really small pond and man-eating koi, or if you think of a garden pond in terms of an indoor tropical aquarium, or have no means of filtering it, but I’ve found that it takes care of itself pretty well so long as I just leave it alone!

And the fish, well, they’re taking pretty good care of themselves too and multiplying. We added three small koi two summers ago and they seem to really like it here. They’ve certainly added some color to the mix of babies. Somehow the twenty or so survivors that we started with last spring have turned into…

Well, I’ll let you guess. You can try counting them in the pic, but like those count-the-jelly-beans-in-the-jar contests, it’s much more fun to just eyeball it and make a guess.

The person who guesses with the closest number wins all of this season’s babies!


Note: I’ve finally added a category in the sidebar for pond posts, so if you should ever be in the mood for reading more, go there.

The interim

Hal Borland made me chuckle this morning with this:

“No matter what happens now, the year has committed itself, January is past, this is February, and up there ahead lie March and April. And May. But since man is man, not woodchuck, he has to live with the interim, not sleep it out and emerge into a green and vernal world. Incidentally, there weren’t any woodchucks out in this neck of the woods on Groundhog Day. If the alarm clock went off, they let it ring, as they usually do.

This is probably as good a time as any to remember that it is only 85 days until May Day, when violets will be in bloom and the lawn will need to be mowed again. And it is only 149 days till the Fourth of July, when the beaches will be jammed and sunburn will be as universal as sniffles are now.

And it is only 208 days till Sept. 1st. That won’t be the end of Summer by the almanac, but to all practical purposes Autumn starts with Labor Day. Back to the desk, back to work, back to school. And the next thing we know, it will be October and first frost and Columbus Day and the height of the color in the trees in New England. And before you can catch your breath it will be Thanksgiving. How time flies! If you really must know, it is only 323 days till Christmas. And then it will start snowing again.

Maybe we shouldn’t have brought the matter up to begin with. But it is February, after all, only 85 days till May Day.” — from Sundial of the Seasons

Day after day, year upon year I find a minute to read the day’s entry in this favorite of all my books. Hal Borland somehow always manages to speak to the things I know to be true and, more often than not, makes me laugh in the process.

I laugh at myself for longing to see my little pond alive again, like in this photo, rather than the sad gloomy mess it is at the moment. I almost can’t wait to have my hands in the dirt come Spring, though it will mean an end to the twice monthly manicures that have my fingernails looking pretty for a change.

That’s not to say that I’m not enjoying this time in between, but maybe that it’s the anticipation of the next that makes now enjoyable. Tonight it’s almost 60 degrees and I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have found my way out to the farm field in back to see if the woodcock weren’t feeling that same anticipation.

Lily and cats

Remember the new purple waterlily I mentioned in this post, well, here’s one open. Nice, huh? I like the color combination, but wish it would bloom a bit more. I feel like I ought to fertilize the pond plants, but with so many fish at the moment, it’s probably not necessary!

We had an odd frog incident: I found a smallish bullfrog dead on the slate floor of the gazebo next to the pond. At first I thought maybe it had hopped out and baked itself somehow on the oven-hot slate, but then I noticed one of its’ legs was a few feet away and half-chewed up. This afternoon brought a possible explanation: my husband startled a cat from the pond area this morning. That explains how yesterday’s dead frog moved itself a foot or more by this afternoon! I also found a black swallowtail dead on the floor of the gazebo – wings only! I expect cats to hunt birds and baby rabbits, but bullfrogs and butterflies?

I wish my neighbors were more responsible with their cats. I could never get away with the same behavior with a dog – why should it be any different for cat owners? At any rate, my husband set a trap out – I would hate to see a neighbor’s beloved pet end up at the pound, but we won’t have a well-fed housecat using our garden as a hunting ground.

Too much of a good thing

Everything in the pond is growing out of control! The mint that grows along the rock edge is spilling over and sending roots into the pond. The water lettuce and hyacinths that we bought in early May are reproducing at a frightening rate. We bought three of each and must have at least 50 of each now just two months later! It’s no wonder those two are considered noxious weeds in tropical climates. I’ll have to find friends with ponds who might like a few dozen floating plants. Maybe I can throw in a dozen baby fish for free? Having some shade and cover for the fish is important, but you can see from this pic that more than 2/3 of the pond surface is covered by plants – that’s too much – and may lead to problems with the oxygen level in the pond. Anyone want some free plants?

Someone’s been awful busy

Suddenly our little backyard pond is full of baby fish. In fact, I think we have more babies than grown-up fish-making fishies. It’s quite a surprise when your pond population seemingly doubles overnight. Makes you wonder how you could have missed the fish being so busy! Some years are like this; the fish are very fertile and make lots of little gold and black speckled babies, other years there are none or at least none survive long enough to be visible to us. I wonder why that is?

My husband and I have been amusing ourselves the last few days by trying to get an accurate count of just how many babies there are, but it’s next to impossible. They dart and hide very efficiently. We’re guessing whether they’re goldfish babies, koi babies, or mutts of some sort. The fish aren’t telling; neither is the fairy who keeps watch over their antics.

Bath interrupted

All the neighborhood birds, especially the robins, love the shallow end of our pond.
Have you noticed that one bathing bird seems to draw others? I focused on the robins, but there were a few house sparrows and a mourning dove waiting their turn on the sidelines.Raccoons or wading birds could have a feast with the *walk-in* design of our pond, but the fish have plenty of hiding places and like to tickle the bird’s toes in the shallows while they bathe.
My husband says we have the biggest and nicest birdbath in the neighborhood. I think the robins would agree.

Blooming this week

I had wanted to brag a little last night about my peonies; aren’t they nice? I prefer single peonies, rather than the doubles that flop all over the place, even though the singles don’t last in a vase. All of those white flowers you see are on one plant! Right next to it is another peony that never gets any buds. The foliage is beautiful, but no buds. I’ve read that’s because either there’s too much shade or it’s planted too deeply. Neither explanation makes any sense to me because the one next to it is doing so beautifully. Any ideas?
I bought this pond plant a few weeks ago and love it! Problem is I don’t know what it is, but I do think it may be the same flower that Susan was wondering about yesterday.
This is a flower on the Sourgum Tree we planted this spring. Not much to look at, but the birds and I are hoping for fruit this year. The tree is leafing out nicely, and the new foliage is tinged with purple.
The viburnums are blooming, too. This one gets the most sun so it blooms first and the most heavily. These are Linden viburnums; the Winterthur is struggling to put out leaves and I doubt there will be any blooms. There has got to be some problem with the spot it’s planted in because this is like the 3rd or 4th Winterthur I’ve planted there and every one of them dies. Maybe I’m just not meant to have that particular viburnum as much as I like it. The Cranberrybush Viburnum we planted this spring bloomed very early because it was greenhouse raised, but it was pretty while it lasted.

So what’s blooming where you are?

Send in the clowns

We bought one of those gazebo thingies to put out by the pond and I need some convincing that it doesn’t look like a circus tent. It doesn’t, does it?

We have a nice-sized yard and the pond is a beautiful area, but it’s in the blazing sun and surrounded by rock and stone and is really the last place on earth that you want to spend any amount of time on a hot summer’s day. So my thinking is that this way we can have some shade and a few comfortable chairs and even some protection against the famous Jersey mosquitoes if we want to sit out there in the evening. Based on a test run late this afternoon I can also tell you that it’ll be a fabulous spot for a nap, with the sound of the water lulling you off into dreamland.

I think this is our sixth summer with the pond and we’re still not finished. Each year we tweak a little something to get it to where we want it to be. This gazebo is another step in that direction, I think. You might have noticed that we removed most of the fence from around the pond – except for the bit that faces the street. I’m nervous about that, but both my husband and I hated it and it really detracted from our enjoyment of the pond, plus it stuck out like a sore thumb. This way we have an unobstructed view from inside the house and from the screen patio. Anyone who is inclined to wander too close to the pond will have to walk through the middle of our yard in order to do it – hopefully no one will. We live on a quiet street, but have a lot of visitors parking beside our house because of a luncheonette on the opposite corner. The pond is something of a magnet, but I hope people’s better sense will prevail and they’ll stay on the street side of the fence.

The weather here has been much more like the 4th of July than Memorial Day. We went ahead and put up the awnings, which help to keep the house cool, but make it dark like a cave. I miss the sun streaming through the windows, but it’s been uncomfortably hot these past few days. I have just a few days left of vacation and intend to be very lazy and put the new circus tent to good use!

Pond progress

Mary had asked for some pond pics and we’ve done a bit of work lately so that I’m not so embarrassed to share photos. The filter’s been running for a few weeks after the major cleanout we did and the 20 or so fish are back in the pond. This past weekend we finally bought a few plants and that has made a world of difference in how the pond looks! We bought some parrot’s feather and a sensitive fern, some rushes, and a pickerel plant, and some elephant ears. We also bought a few of the *floaters* to offer some shade until we buy any waterlilies. The floating heart that grew last year as a volunteer has started sending out shoots and the mint that grows in the rocks is already out of control! This year I would really like to work on planting the edges of the pond; other than a few hostas, daylilies, and some monarda, nothing much that I’ve planted in the past has been able to survive. The pond is in full sun for most of the day and those rocks really heat up! I haven’t spotted the frog since we did the cleanout, but I’m sure he’s lurking there somewhere.