In the heat of summer there is no place so pleasant as sitting on a bench as the sun sets, watching goldfish and koi swim lazily in the garden pond. In my garden there are five ponds, and along side each there is a bench, or a seat, or just a boulder, so that one can sit to catch up on the day’s events with the wise bullfrog who surveys his domain from the perch of a mossy stone.
In this garden the moss grows thick along the shady pond’s edge where an occasional small garter snake might lurk, and frogs bellow their mating calls in the spring. Dragonflies buzz to and fro, resting for only an instant on a tall cattail, and birds splash nervously in the shallow pools above the waterfalls, aware that predators are near.
Overhanging serviceberry and stewartia drop their litter, blooms and leaves, and hostas and Japanese forest grass arch into the stream. A dead limb from the enormous poplars and maples that border the ponds might fall across the pond, and if there is no harm done it might remain there for weeks, or months.
This is my sanctuary, but also a refuge for the wildlife that live in and around the ponds, and any that choose to visit to bathe or quench their thirst. I have conceded to the neighborhood heron, and goldfish and koi will be placed only in the largest and deepest of the ponds so that this long legged bird can not stand in the shallow waters waiting to snatch his evening meal.
On a scorching afternoon I will occasionally cool off, floating in the waters of this large pond, though with the warm temperatures this summer the water is not so refreshing as is usual. The koi are undisturbed by my presence, and swim close hoping for a treat, occasionally startling me with a nudge if I’ve drifted too far into “relaxation”.
I have attempted to naturalize the ponds as much as is possible. with boulders and moss, and plants that flop over the edges. There are gardeners who prefer their ponds pristine and immaculate, and no doubt their labor is well spent in keeping them off the streets, but neat and tidy don’t fit my eye, and I prefer the disorder of variegated cattail and iris spreading in the shallow waters, with floating hearts weaving between without restraint.
I can’t imagine the pond without plants bounding from each nook, and every cranny between boulders, and with today’s introduction, and a second chapter in a few days, we’ll explore some of the aquatic plants from my ponds.