Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pond redux

The garden was always about water even before there was the pond: wet through most of the year, flooded by water every time it rains, shaped literally (like a miniature river delta) and figuratively (the plants that thrive here, the wetland environment, the character of this place) by the flow of water over the land.

The pond has become the conceptual center of the garden, collecting water from the higher elevations of this ridge above the Delaware into a long, canal shape, then visually throwing the eye from the dark woodland edge into the sunny wet prairie beyond. That was its main purpose when I had it dug in March. The pond was an idea, a shape, not yet a place.

It all happened quite unexpectedly. Frogs, tadpoles, dragonflies, all sorts of insects, even garden snakes. I knew the pond would become home to frogs, perhaps even newts and salamanders, but had no notion of the delight it would bring. It's become the living center of the garden and from it hundreds of frogs and other creatures, known and not known, here and yet to be here, make their circuits out then back to the water. Hawks sometimes perch nearby; sightings of Great Blue Herons are more frequent.

The pond today contrasts dramatically with the barren hole of early April (above). Hard to believe in less than four months a water body about forty feet long and four to eight feet wide could bring so much change. (See pevious post.)

Sounds, too, and startling movements. The croaking of frogs unpredictably in the day and often late into the night, sudden splashes as they dive from their terrestrial watching places into the water, or silence as they wait at the edge of a water lily pad or lurk secretively just at the surface, fattening tadpoles popping up for a quick gulp of air (tiny black holes opening for an instant) then diving deep for protection.

The most airy ornaments, the dragon flies, carry the pond's influence upward and outward, spiraling in twos and threes, out and back, out and back, alighting briefly on dry seed heads of Carex muskingumensis or rushes.

Other ornaments - the water lilies (instant gratification) dropped in in tubs ...

... and the pond as arrow and mirror.


  1. Nice. You should make sure to submit this to the Garden Bloggers Design Workshop over at Gardening Gone Wild when the topic of the month is water gardens. I think that's coming up in a month or so.

  2. Thanks, Craig, I'll do that (if I can remember!).

  3. Those are beautiful pictures. I wish I had a pond.

  4. I highly recommend it. Even if it's a tub sunk into the soil, it will provide an amazing change and new interest in your garden. And the frogs are great for pest control. I have had hardly any Japanese beetles this summer.

  5. Thanks ever so much for sharing the link to this post for the Design Workshop at GGW, James. I'd be very interested to know more about how you prepared the site, if the mood ever strikes you to write about it. The result is certainly lovely, and it represents the sort of water feature I'd like to have in my own garden.

  6. Oh James... I absolutely love your pond - especially with the woodland in the background and around it :-D

    I also love the mirror of the surface too. I am so envious of the room you have for it! Watching what wildlife will find its way there must be wonderful - I bet you can't wait until spring now! Great photos :-D

    BTW I must also comment on the very interesting collection of links you have there! Many are favs of mine too - I also love the Piet style and still have photos and video to post of my visit to Penthorpe Nature Reserve in England which hosts the largest Piet garden in the UK.

    Mm.. I can see I will have to add your link so I can browse more fully your postings! My favourite garden visits include Beth Chatto's and Great Dixter. Oh and I loved Tom Stuart's medal winning garden for Chelsea too :-D

  7. Nan,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I think I will do a post on the "how to" of my pond. I thought it would be simple, but discovered the change in land elevation introduced some complexities I didn't anticipate.

  8. Shirl,

    I visited Great Dixter once in the 80s. Christopher Lloyd was one of my favorite garden writers and personalities, though I do a very different, and much less labor-intensive kind of gardening. I'm also a great admirer of Tom Stuart-Smith and loved his Chelsea garden (via web reports). I hope to get to the UK to do much more garden visiting, but not until our dollar recovers a little and makes travel there more affordable! I look forward to seeing your photos and video of Pensthorpe.



Related Posts with Thumbnails