I am a lover of horticulture, gardening and the environment. At age 8, I sent away for a package of Zinnia seeds for 10 cents and I've been hooked ever since. After 25 years of being self-employed, I retired. That only lasted 4 years and I now work in a water conservation program: I buy grass from homeowners who are willing to convert to desert landscaping and lose that thirsty green stuff. I pursue what interests me and you can blame my sister for getting me into this blogging thing.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

My Pond

One aspect of my garden I haven’t written about is my pond. This is the 6th pond I have built and I’ve learned from every single one. A pond adds such a peaceful aspect to your garden. If you have a waterfall, the sound of running water is so peaceful. Relaxing next to your pond is an ideal spot to read a book.

Funny how I got started with this hobby. About 15 years ago, I got an assignment to photograph a magazine article about a man who built ponds as a hobby. This particular man had cut a hole in his driveway and built a pond in it. I had to meet this guy, how strange was that? Well, we became fast friends at our first meeting and we’re still friends to this day. He still has the pond in the driveway along with 3 other ponds in his yard. He actually put a new door into his garage on the alley side so he could put his car in the garage.

Bob, my pond friend, had started a pond club and invited me and my husband to a meeting. Well, I thought, I’ll get a chance to meet others who have built ponds. I was a big time gardener but had never thought about a water garden. I thought it was pretty neat, some of these folks built some pretty elaborate ponds. Everyone kept asking when we were going to build a pond. They all said everyone built their first pond too small. I could fix that. One night about 8 PM, I laid the hose on the lawn in a shape I later realized looked like a molar. We started digging. And digging, and digging. We put out lights and the neighbors came over to help dig. It was like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Eventually we ended up with a 1900-gallon pond. I timed how long it took to fill a 5-gallon pail, and then extrapolated the amount of time it took to fill the pail. The first time around I bought some kind of plastic liner that didn’t hold up worth a damn. It only lasted about a year. What a chore to move all the rocks and get a rubber liner installed. It’s called Pond Gard and its made by Firestone. All the good advice from my new friends at the pond club was a big help. Once a month we shared experiences and problems.

One thing led to another and I built another pond in my own yard. Then other people wanted me to build a pond for them. Never let it be said that ignorance stopped me. I was a problem solver and I could do anything. I built 3 more ponds of various sizes. So we eventually moved to Nevada and then the fun began. We have really rocky soil here and a pick is our favorite garden tool. My husband started digging with a pick and shovel. We sifted all the rocks out of the soil he dug. There were lots of rocks and since there was no house next door, we threw them over the wall. It took him 3 months of picking and sifting to dig a 6-foot by 12-foot hole that was 44 inches deep. He said it was his grave. Actually, we later learned about electric jackhammers and could have done this in a day with a couple of laborers. So now we had this huge hole, and it stayed empty for about 4 years until we managed to get all our sons here at one time. We lined the hole with carpet padding. Remember all the rocks, I was afraid it would puncture the liner. We bought a piece of EPDM, the Pond Gard, and it was too heavy for us to handle. It took all 5 of us to handle this monster-sized piece of rubber.

Finally, we situated it in the hole, folded it so the liner was as flat as possible, and put some water in it. But even I admitted this was not working. I finally broke down and hired Chris, a pond builder, (that's him in the white T-shirt) and he helped us finish the project. We bought river rock, large smooth rocks and lined the entire pond. Chris installed a skimmer box and a waterfall box. We added water and turned on the pump. The first pump I bought only pumped 900 gallons an hour and we didn’t get much sound from the waterfall. I would fix that by buying a 2300 hundred gallon an hour pump. Great sound from that puppy. It took a 2-inch line to send the water to the top of the waterfall. I bought plants, I bought gold fish and filled it with water. Finally we had a pond.

I have 3 water lilies, miniature cattails, some black taro and parrots feather. The water lilies are Attraction (a red), Gonnere (a gorgeous double white) and Charlene Strawn (a yellow). I used a pallet of petrified wood I found at a supply yard for the edge stones. The dozen feeder fish have grown multiple generations of babies. I never feed the fish, they spawn until they reach the limit of their food supply. You create a biosystem in your pond, just like nature creates. It's so hot here that algae really thrives. When your water gets enough cover from the leaves of the lilies, the algae mostly disappears. Algae doesn’t grow in the shade. I was disappointed to find out it is too hot here to grow lotus. I grew it in Indiana and loved it. I never got many flowers a year from it but when it did bloom, it was spectacular. Every time we try to tweak Mother Nature, it’s a challenge to see if it works. I’ve become very pragmatic, if a plant does well, it stays. If something doesn’t thrive, it’s out of here. I am a crazed plant collector but I don’t have an emotional attachment to all of the plants in the yard, just 99 and 44/100th % of them. The last photo is how the pond looks today. You can see how big the blue Mexican fan palms have grown. It's our little oasis in the desert.


Blogger Chloe said...

This is so Cool ~ Thanks for sharing : )

August 13, 2006 11:12 PM  
Blogger Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I love my watergarden but it's my first and it's too small. It's self sustaining though.

Yours is lovely and about as deep as ours although yours sounds much bigger gallon wise.

We collected all of our rocks from here and there. We used very large limestone rocks for the edges that we got from our son's home. It has been a lot of fun, but I don't know if I would want to dig that hole again.

We still have a lot of work to do in the appearance of the pond, but the water, fish & plants are doing well. The snails & frogs are also thriving.

We had to remove our pumps and stop our waterfall from flowing because the cats loved to play in it and wouldn't leave it alone. They just had to hunt down the source of the water and try to divert the hoses or anything that squirted water. Occasionally they did and we would loose our water. Now they just use it for a watering hole and a place to hunt frogs, snakes & chipmunks.

I'm looking forward to seeing more of your pond.

August 13, 2006 11:49 PM  
Blogger Motherkitty said...

Love the pond and the pond-fixer. Your fish are beautiful and so are the flowers. Nice post. Can you put one of those in at my house? I will trade you a few tomatoes for a pond. How does that sound?

August 14, 2006 8:59 AM  
Blogger PEA said...

I've always loved ponds and one of these days I'm gonna build me one!!! My friend June has one in her backyard and often we sit next to're right, the sound of running water is so very relaxing!!You certainly have built quite a few and my mouth dropped open when I read the sizes of them! WOW!! The one you have now is just gorgeous!

August 14, 2006 1:47 PM  
Blogger Alipurr said...

I remember visiting you when had your first one, and were in the Pond Club and that one was beautiful. This one sounds even more gorgeous.

August 15, 2006 4:42 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Oh, that is so neat! I would love to have a water garden. Yours is a really beauty! Lovely pictures.

August 15, 2006 8:22 PM  
Blogger Mountain Mama said...

Just beautiful, but what a lot of HARD work. I made two ponds. The first and largest is about three to four feet deep and about 12 feet wide. It was hard digging because after I had removed about a foot of soil, I hit sandstone. I should have just quit, but kept at it, using an axe and pick to get the stone out. I dug a trench as deep as the pond, and connected a large hose for drainage down over the hill into a flower garden (Good fertilizer) and buried a hose which snakes through a rock waterfall. It is still doing ok,and the fish are breeding. I have one lily, a pink one, that has been blooming and several other water plants including the purple iris type like in your picture.
My lower pond is smaller and in a shady wooded area. It has ferns and large, mossy, Maple burl and a fountain cherry tree by it. I really like it, but a raccoon was using it for a toilet, so I had to drain it and clean it out. I will be filling it again as soon as I have captured and relocated that nasty Coon!

August 16, 2006 10:50 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

I have a small rock garden, but never considered a pond. I'm always worried about upkeep and mosquitoes, not necessarily in that order.

Hea, we did get a few tomatoes on our one big tomato plant. My wife was disappointed that, though they were beefsteak tomatoes, they didn't grow that big. But so tasty they were.

Also learned that some baby rabbits were nesting nearby, within five feet, so we were lucky they didn't eat the tomatoes. I guess rabbits eat tomatoes.

August 17, 2006 9:24 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

I love your garden. It is very inspirational to me. Those are wonderful pictures. Thanks for the post.

I lean as much as I can toward plants that don't require pampering. Especially summer pampering. I do have some plants that need winter protection a couple of nights or so in a typical year, but I don't mind that at all. It is worth it because they give me pleasure the rest of the year.

I hope everything is going well for you.

August 18, 2006 7:43 PM  
Blogger judypatooote said...

Beautiful pictures, and beautiful pond hubby built around 3 ponds in our back yard....each time getting a little bit bigger.... then one day he filled it all in......they were just little ones, but we did have fish and water lilies.....I wish I had a small one, just to hear the waterfall.....while reading my book.....thanks for sharing......

August 22, 2006 6:54 AM  

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