Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Water Garden

This was our first big undertaking this year. Starting April 5th, which was the first warm, sunny day after a winter that was three years long, we dug out the hole for our 55-gallon drum that would become our water garden (miniature pond).

The ground was nice and soft thanks to the heavy snows finally melting. It's awkward digging a hole 2.5 feet deep and only 2.5 feet in diameter. We made it a little wider and filled in the edges after setting the drum. So just how does one go about digging a hole 2.5 deep and 2.5 feet in diameter? First, one gets a shovel. Or two. Next, one employs readily-available and free child labour:

As you can see, the hole's not quite deep enough so we had to dig it some more. Then we set the empty drum in the hole until we got some bricks to put inside:

3 cinder blocks are arranged inside. These will be plant shelves as well as safe hidey-holes for the fishies who might need to get away from neighborhood cats, herons, or children. We filled the barrel with water, refitted the lid and left it until the moment I learned that Canadian Tire had floating solar water fountains. I ran out immediately and snatched up one of the last two on the shelf. WOOHOO! We had a nice little fountain going there for a couple weeks with nothing other than cinder blocks to keep it company. It only runs in full sun (and sometimes when it's only slightly overcast) so by afternoon it has shut off as the pond is in full shade by 2pm now. That's getting later every day and by the height of summer, the fountain will run until 6 or 7 pm.

On May 9 I bought the plants and placed them in the pond. We also took a couple trips to get the fish. First we went to the Koi Pond in hopes that they would have shubunkins (which are smaller and cleaner than Koi.) No such luck. He tried to tell me he had some shubunkins, but I saw everything he had, and everything he had cost TOO MUCH and was ALL KOI. So off we went to Petsmart. They had lots of choices. We settled on the 27 cent feeder goldfish. I figured if they died overnight, we wouldn't be out a bunch of money. We bought four: two orange with black markings and two orange with white markings. The fish are thriving in their new home! It's been a week, we still have four fish, and a couple of them are significantly larger than they were a week ago. Now they're even staying visible when we come to feed them.

This weekend (May 15) we started purchasing our bricks to surround the portion of the pond that is above-ground.

Do ya want to see it? Now keep in mind, we're only buying some of the brick at a time, so the brick surround is not completed. It will be in a month or two. I also removed the fountain to take this pic. I'll take another with the fountain in all its glory tomorrow.

Yes, that's a toy boat in there. That little boy had to dig that hole, he should get to float his boats in the water! As you can see, I also transplanted some day lilies (tiger lilies, ditch lilies, whatever you want to call them -- they're the standard orange flowered lily) behind the pond. I didn't want them where they had been and they'll look nice back there.

A closer look at the plants:

and what they are:

Can you see that oblong shadow at the end of the arrow denoting a fishie? Yes, it's a fishie! The water's not actually murky. It was dusk when I took this picture so it's dark down there. I also have a waterlily under where the front hyacinth is floating. It hasn't grown enough to float on top of the water, though.

Here is what each of the plants will look like when they're blooming and mature:
All my water plants are hardy in our zone (Canadian 6b, US 5b) and will survive the winter. The fish will also survive -- they're they reason I planted the whole barrel instead of cutting it in half and having a patio water garden. I may need to do something to keep the water from freezing, and I will cover the pond to give it more insulation. I also want to get a couple snails to keep things tidy in there. And we'd all like to have a frog.

Next up, the weed bed....


Anonymous said...

Great little pond you have. Not sure if you know though frogs eat fish. To prevent the pond from freezing you'll need a pup running all winter if the gasses can't escape the fish will suffocate ad die

CannedAm said...

Maybe the frog would be a bad idea, then. LOL! Then again, if those four fish become 20 next year, perhaps the frog will come in handy then.

I know I can't let it freeze solid, so we're looking at our options there.

I've heard of locals using the heaters that are for livestock water troughs to keep their ponds unfrozen through the winter...I might go that route. I'll figure it out before the end of summer, that's for sure!

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