I’ve neglected the ponds long enough. For weeks it’s been nothing but flowers and more flowers. Finally, Saturday was sunny and warm, so the raft was brought out of storage (actually it spent the Winter tucked under the Silver Cloud redbud) and launched into the swimming pond for a couple hours of peaceful floating. The waterfall is loud enough that neighbors’ mowers are barely audible. The water was a bit chilly to start, but not enough to keep me awake.
There are six ponds in my one acre plus garden, one dirt bottomed and five with rubber liner, recirculating pumps, and waterfalls. That is, perhaps, an oversimplification because there are nearly a hundred tons of stone and boulders, and an assortment of filters and other components. The ponds range from just over 100 square feet to more than 1,400 square feet in the swimming pond.
I built them myself. My son, the lead pond builder for Meadows Farms, assisted in moving the 500 pound fifty by fifty foot rubber liner into the swimming pond, but otherwise I shoveled every scoop of dirt, lifted every boulder, sweated the sweat, and suffered the aches and pains of someone too old to be messing with this foolishness. Each pond was more than a labor of love, more an obsession.
Far too many times I get an idea that I’m hung up on, tomorrow the materials are planned, then ordered, the next day the digging begins. One day there’s a nice stretch of lawn, the next a pond big enough to swim laps in. I’m certain that everyone else is just like this, aren’t they?
There is a practical side. As the head of Meadows Farms landscape department I want to experience building and maintaining different features to understand as a builder and end user.
There are plants and materials that I’ve experimented with in my garden and discarded as unworthy, or as too pricey. I’ve redone the oldest pond, which dates almost twenty years, at least five times as I discovered new methods and technologies. I think that it’s pretty settled in now. A large weeping maple threatens annually to hide this small pond forever, but a little pruning here and there opens it up.
One time each year most of the ponds get a thorough cleanup, emptying the water, cleaning debris that has dropped to the bottom, cutting old foliage off the pond plants, and cleaning the filters. The swimming pond has never been cleaned. I’ve no intention of ever pumping 25,000 gallons of water out and refilling it, and fortunately, the gravel bog upflow filter keeps the pond clear year round.
When the weather warms in a couple weeks you’ll find me afternoons and weekends lazily floating with the koi, daydreaming and watching the birds romp in the waterfall, dragonflies whizzing about.
On occasion through the year, I’ll update the changes in the ponds as iris, waterlilies, and lotus bloom, and as the cannas and elephant ears grow to monstrous proportions. Today the ponds are fairly spartan, the plants in and around the pond not fully developed this early. In another month they’ll be lush with growth, and the character will change.
The yellowflag iris are past peak bloom now, and the first of the waterlilies blooming. The buds of the Japanese iris are a few days from opening. The koi are ravenous, the frogs are sunning themselves on warm granite boulders at the pond’s edge.
When I’m not working, this is where you’ll find me.