Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Cancer Survivor's Garden - The Ponds

A water feature in the garden is touted as being “a must” for every garden.  There are many reasons for that.  When I got to the point of filling our first pond, a dragon fly showed up and buzzed over the small puddle of water and then buzzed past me as if to say, “Hurry up, will you.  You’ve been at this all day.”  The birds were into the new pond before it was full. To say a pond attracts wildlife is an understatement.

I got sick before I finished building the second and third ponds.  The plastic liners are sunk into the ground but are not edged.  The birds and frogs haven’t noticed.  They moved in and are content with the way things are.

In order to keep mosquitoes from infesting the ponds, I installed goldfish.  I avoided Koi because I read that blue herons eat Koi, but not your standard goldfish.  Apparently, Harry, the great blue heron didn’t read the same book I read.  Goldfish are just fine with him/her. 

I built the ponds close to the house so I can see them from the sofa. The antics of all the birds around the ponds have entertained me for hours.  My hubby keeps insisting that I should chase the blue heron away instead of photographing it.  I don’t think the heron is going to be permanently intimidated if I run out and wave my arms and yell at it, so I might as well take some wonderful pictures. 

I can’t accuse the heron of eating all the goldfish by himself.  A kingfisher visits our pond too.  I got some nice photos of the kingfisher.  He is a little more shy about being photographed than Harry. He’s very efficient at fishing.  At one point after the goldfish had bred we had a couple hundred fish in the big pond.  The birds got them all. 

Each year, I end up stocking the ponds with several dozen goldfish.  This year, I have a breeding pair of goldfish who have escaped the birds, snakes and raccoons.  I hope to have more baby fish.  I will still have to restock the smaller ponds. 

My own ducks love the ponds.  They have their own kiddy pool near their pen, but the deeper ponds in the front are their favorite hang-out.  We also have a pair of wild ducks that visit our ponds in the spring.  I enjoy watching them come in for a landing and always hope they will dine on the slugs in the garden. 

Yesterday while we were eating dinner, our domestic ducks were in the pond.  The wild ducks arrived to find the pond occupied.  Mr. Wild Duck immediately left in a huff.  Mrs. Wild Duck looked over my three attractive male ducks and settled in for a visit while wiggling her tail suggestively.  She stayed for about fifteen minutes before leaving to join her mate. 

 The ponds are relatively low maintenance.  They grow a slimy plant in the hot summer.  If I pull the slimy plant out, it makes a nice mulch and plant food for the roses.  If the slimy plant doesn’t get pulled out, it disintegrates during the winter.  It may help the goldfish to hide from predators.  As far as I can see, the ponds are healthy with almost no maintenance.  They look a little ugly in August, but we can’t all be at our best all the time.  If I had the energy, I might hook up my small pump to water my roses with the nutrient-rich pond water in August, while filling the ponds with a garden hose.  On the other hand, the ponds work with no maintenance other that occasionally installing new plants and restocking with fish.