When I built the swimming pond I anticipated spending lazy hours floating that could have been wasted on more productive pursuits. Today was such a day. I’m certain there were worthwhile tasks desperately needing attention, but none came to mind. (An excellent reason for avoiding written to-do lists. Then, I would have to misplace the list.)
The swimming pond is the largest of six ponds I have built in the garden, and “swimming” is a misnomer because swimming involves effort, and once the pond was complete I was determined to avoid anything feeling like work. In my inflatable lounge chair I can float away the hours, enjoying the birds, the bees, dragonflies darting to and fro, frogs, toads, an occasional turtle (and every now and then a small snake), and the dazzling colors of koi and goldfish.
I built the swimming pond three years ago, and started the first Spring with twelve koi, the number that remained until adding two goldfish (transferred from another of the ponds) earlier this Spring. I’ve had problems with herons feeding in the smaller, shallower ponds, but this one is too deep for them, except for an area for filtration (and jammed full of aquatic plants) that the fish are too cautious to remain in unless they’re chasing a stray food nugget.
From fourteen in April (twelve koi and two goldfish) we’ve experienced a population explosion, with more fish than I can count, but at least thirty, probably fifty or more. It’s getting difficult to float without them bumping into you every minute. Next year some will have to be relocated to the smaller ponds.
Thankfully, the swimming pond has escaped any problems with string algae this year, but the small pond with the long stream has suffered more than is usual. Still, I spend no more than an hour a month on maintenance for the combined ponds once the one-time-a-year Spring cleaning is completed. I derive no joy from cleaning, weeding, and tasks of this sort.
The two-tiered pond below the deck that appears to feed the stream (but isn’t connected), is covered in growth from waterlilies, floating heart (Nymphoides), green-white and yellow-green variegated acorus, Japanese iris, and a hosta seedling (a volunteer) that grows in the shallows above one of the small waterfalls. Water is barely visible, but the sound of the falls alerts you to the pond’s presence. This pond, and the stream, are quite shady, and numerous frogs flee whenever you wander down one of the paths.
Stone paths lead from steps on either side of the deck, over large slabs that traverse the stream, to two small slate patios that overlook the ponds. From one spot on the lower patio, set into the slope and bordered by boulders, three small ponds can be seen, but barely, through the nandinas, hollies, mahonias, Japanese maples, and various this and that.
The upper ponds (and the front yard pond) have no fish, but will probably be stocked with the overflow from the swimming pond next year. I don’t think that heron will be a problem again since there’s no clear flight path (or escape route) from these older ponds that are surrounded by overhanging trees. When we get more koi than the ponds can handle, my son suggested offering free fish on Craigslist.
You catch ’em, you keep ’em, I’ll be out back floating.