I don’t write often about the garden’s ponds because nothing particularly exciting happens from month to month. Typically, there are a few dozen new hatchling fish in spring, irises and pickerel weeds that appear and begin to spread by late spring, and then sometime in autumn the ponds must be covered with nets so they are not filled with leaves blowing in from the garden and neighboring forest. In between, there is no significant maintenance, and rarely are there bothers worth mentioning. So, there are only a couple times each year when events regarding the ponds are worthy of mention, and none are newsworthy, or barely so.
If this implies that the ponds are not treasured, make no mistake, the ponds are the centerpiece of this garden. I suppose I am nuttier than most over plants, but I cannot imagine the garden without the ponds. There are five, four that range from a hundred to a couple hundred square feet, and the koi pond (below) that is somewhere around fourteen hundred square feet. It is bordered by a jungle of plants (of course), a stone patio, and a covered roof structure that for lack of a better term my wife and I call a summerhouse. It is nothing so grand as the name might imply, but it doesn’t fit my definition of a gazebo or a pavilion. No matter the name, it’s an excellent spot to get out of the summer sun for a few moments, or to wait out an occasional thunderstorm.
There is every reason to be pleased that the ponds are not often worthy of mention. Besides ongoing troubles with a sometimes belligerent Northern Brown snake that resides beneath boulders at the edge of the koi pond, the lone event for this year is that instead of a dozen or two new fish, this spring there were more than could be counted. And, not just a few, but many dozens, and what could have caused this population explosion is beyond me. Now, I’m concerned for next year and what can be done with so many fish.
As the number of fish in the koi pond has increased, growth of pickerel weeds (Pontederia cordata, above) and yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus, below) in the shallow filtration area has become correspondingly more robust. This is, I presume, a simple equation, with more and larger fish creating more waste, which then fertilizes the vigorous growth.
I haven’t a clue why the number of hatchlings increased so greatly this spring, and even with dozens being transferred to the garden’s other four ponds, several dozen remain in this large pond. These are added to the seventy-five or more koi and a few goldfish already inhabiting the pond, and now I fear that it might soon become overpopulated. Already, the pond’s simple filtration cannot keep pace, and for the first time since the pond was constructed the water is not clear. The cloudiness is a combination of silt stirred up from the pond’s bottom by koi, and algae, which has only occasionally been any kind of problem.
The immediate issue with the ponds is that leaves are starting to fall, and the ponds must be covered in the next few weeks. I hold off as long as I can since this task signals the end of the garden season for me. There’s still much work to do, but with nets over the ponds and most plants headed into dormancy, it’s difficult to manage equal enthusiasm to times when there are blooms in every direction and birds and bees are buzzing through the garden .
The process to cover and anchor the nets takes only a few hours, but since I wait until the last possible date, usually the wind is howling and it’s cloudy and cold with leaves falling all around. This is not a day that I look forward to.