Along one side of the koi pond a gravel bog filter (below) is planted with tall, variegated sweetflag (Acorus calamus), yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus), pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), and water lilies (Nymphaea). Pockets between boulders at the pond’s edge are planted with Japanese irises (Iris ensata), though a few clumps have been infiltrated by the invasive yellowflag. I am conscious to monitor the damp overflow of the pond to assure that the vigorous iris does not escape, and so far it has not.
Yellowflag (below) spread quickly through the shallow bog area, and it has been ideal for filtration. Also, it provides excellent cover for two Northern brown snakes that now prowl about the pond. I suspect their intended prey are small frogs that are abundant in the pond, but occasionally I have found a small fish dragged out of the water.
Yellowflag and water lilies flower earliest, then a variety of Japanese iris (below) surrounding the pond bloom for several weeks. When these finally fade the water lilies and pickerelweed flower through much of the summer, and overhanging shrubs provide color into autumn. With a sun baked stone patio and dozens of colorful koi and goldfish, this is the center point of the garden.
As with every other part of the garden, this area is planted with Japanese maples and small flowering trees, though I deviated a few years ago when a treasured Seven Son tree (Heptacodium miconioides) was lost in a storm. The Red Horse chestnut (Aesculus × carnea, below) planted in its stead will perhaps grow too large for this space eventually, but I think that little harm will be done.
The slow growing ‘Butterfly’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Butterfly’, below) that is perched at the pond’s edge is showing a bit more vigor this spring, and today the foliage is mostly cream colored. This will partially turn to green in late spring, and with less green to its foliage it is not surprising that ‘Butterfly’ is slow.
While mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) suffered considerably again this winter, Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) suffered no damage at all. A year ago the oakleafs grew with increased vigor, and already I have pruned select branches that overhang Japanese irises to give the irises space to flower.
This garden surrounding the koi pond is densely planted, and with trees in leaf no signs of neighboring properties can be seen. There is only the sound of the crashing waterfall, the commotion of koi clamoring for their feed, and flowers. No wonder this is the spot where I settle to nap on every warm spring and summer afternoon.