The Slipshod Gardener 5: Pond Development and Defeat

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Cattails

In its heyday, my little pond was a magnificent oddity. At the same time I started my pond, a neighbor was starting hers. One day as she passed my place on one of her regular walks, we shared our visions for our ponds and I mentioned wanting cattails. What I meant was miniature cattails. But before long she arrived at my house with a wheelbarrow full of a sloppy mess with the long fronds of full-sized cattails. I could hardly refuse the gift after hearing her story of extracting them from a church pond and her effort in delivering them to me. Besides, if I was willing to have pumpkins, why not six foot cattails? So for the next two years, my house was easily found because it was the only one on the street with cattails in the front yard. I acquired Louisiana iris for the pond as well, giving it a decidedly spiky character.

The second year, I bought a cheap water lily to replace the ill-fated expensive one of the first year. The cheap water lily thrived and the frogs enjoyed the lily pads.

Mums

Life within the pond was settled but life around the pond remained problematic. After the squash bug disaster of the first summer, I had planted chrysanthemums around the pond because it was fall and they were just about the only thing available. I have never liked mums much and didn’t buy them with any enthusiasm. They are annuals, though, so I expected them to die over the winter.

They didn’t die. They came back stronger. They grew into large, robust mounds that nicely offset the spiky iris and cattails. They produced their first full head of blooms in mid-June. Once those faded, I sheared them like a hedge and they continued blooming every few weeks until cold weather curtailed their vigor.

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Hardscaping

That fall my scavenger beau and I passed a construction dumpster filled with concrete slabs being cut from the floor of a store being renovated. My beau saw patio blocks for his place. Since he lived furthest from the treasure and time was a factor, the first batch salvaged was unloaded in my back yard.

The third spring of the pond, I began eyeing those blocks. My pond was now charming enough that I wanted to sit by it. Out came the pick-ax. I made a vertical cut in the house side of the mound. I don’t know if watching me getting each block into a wheelbarrow would have provided more comedy or suspense, but I didn’t break any bones and a short, forlorn wall with pond-level seating resulted.

Too many complications

Unfortunately, fire ants decided the space between the seats and the pond was ideal for them. And the frogs and the fish all dove for cover whenever I approached, so the purpose of the seating was never fully realized. I was better off viewing its life from my porch with binoculars.

Opposite the seating area, grass was taking over. I didn’t have enough money to keep it heavily mulched. I put some rocks around the pond’s edge, which the fire ants also liked and the grasses simply went under.

I’ve never had a good relationship with weed-eaters and I didn’t want to spray herbicide so close to the water’s edge. In the spring of 2012, I admitted to myself that keeping up the pond’s edges was too much for me. I put the liner on Marshall County Freecycle. It was gone within a week. The pick-ax went into action filling in the hole and the mound shrank yet again.

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