Friday, August 31, 2012

Les and Rhonda's Ponds and Gardens

Welcome to Rhonda and Les' ponds! This was the final pond on the 2012 MCWGS Pond Tour but not our final pond tour on In the Garden's pond tours. I have skipped both my pond and my friend Naomi's pond but will at some point come back to them. After this post there is one more pond tour that was actually a bonus for Mr. Fix-it and I as it was not on this year's pond tour. 

The Shank's pond had to have been the largest pond on the tour. Rhonda told me it was 5500 gallons; which is enormous! The depth of this pond was over three feet and the koi were about three feet long themselves. It is a pretty spectacular pond. This pond also has the distinction of being the only pond  on this tour that had a bottom drain installed. The filtering system on this pond was quite incredible, but I won't go into details because I don't understand any of it myself. The picture above is of the covered bridge that crosses the large pond. This pond was surrounded by bright and cheery gardens. The hard work of the gardeners is evident everywhere you look in this garden.
Elephant ears seemed to be a mainstay of most of the ponds on the tour. They are beautiful next to a pond because of their large tropical looking leaves.
This stunner is 'Golden Spirit' smoketree. Smoketrees are native to North America and are one of my favorite small trees. I too have 'Golden Spirit' and can vouch for its toughness and attractiveness in the garden. All of the new chartreuse growth you see on this tree is due to the recent rains we have had. Normally only new growth shows the vivid coloring many smoketree hybrids display. This one is no exception. Do you see how the lower leaves are more green than chartreuse? The two toned effect is actually quite nice but if you expect your smoketrees to show bright colors all season you will be disappointed.
Here we are looking under the bridge and toward the waterfall. Behind the waterfall area there was a huge stock tank full of beautiful baby koi. Rhonda's male and female koi are all in the same tank and it seems the babies have lots of places to hide once spawned. Normally pond owners won't see many babies from their koi because the small fry are quickly eaten. That changes if you have plants and safe spots for the baby to hide. A pond owner can quickly get inundated with baby koi and this has happened to Rhonda and Les. I told Rhonda she should sell them but another pond society member kind of laughed and said you can't hardly give baby koi away let alone sell them. That is sometimes true of the regular looking koi but the baby koi in Rhonda's stock tanks are beautiful. I would think she could sell them easily.
Rhonda told me she is from Missouri and near where her mother lives is a factory that makes gazing balls for the garden. Leftover glass is melted down and sold to the public. Some of the pieces Rhonda has collected are displayed on a nearby table. Aren't they beautiful?
On one end of the covered bridge crossing the pond is a beautiful vine cascading down the structure. I remarked that the Sweet Autumn Clematis was lovely there but it was so invasive in my garden that I removed all of mine. Invasiveness did not seem to be a problem for Rhonda and many others in our area that grow Sweet Autumn Clematis.
I took a lot of pictures of this pond for some reason. It was simply gorgeous.
Here we are peeking through the trees and gardens toward one of the two stock tanks. I think everyone liked looking at the baby koi as much as at the large koi.
This two acre property in a subdivision in town contained several fruit trees. I thought this patio peach was stunning. It was SO big and healthy. I just added one to my garden this spring and hope mine is as happy. The tree behind the patio peach is a Mimosa tree. This is not a tree that I am impressed by because it is rather weedy, but it is a pretty tree both in and out of flower.
Mr. Fix-it was interested in this garden art. He was not sure what it was so he asked Les and the two of them wound up talking during the whole tour. It seems they were both in the same field in the Army. It's a small world I tell you. I seem to remember Mr. Fix-it finally telling me this art object was perhaps a cotton gin. I am not certain though.
More tropical like plants in this very sunny garden.
And here is my dear husband. He had a great time on this tour as we do each year. Here he is enviously looking at one of the many fig trees on the property. The fig trees were LOADED with figs. I think Rhonda perhaps started with one fig tree and has split off many offshoots to transplant in her garden. She must now have about a dozen. There were several Asian pear trees loaded with fruit as well, and probably more fruit trees though I did not explore all of the plants. Rhonda was gracious enough to allow me to pick a fruit to bring home to eat. It is sitting and softening up but I plan to try it soon. 

Rhonda's garden had been on the tour a few years ago when I did the tour with my friend Vonna. Everyone was quite impressed with not only the pond and gardens, but also with Rhonda's generosity. She is a sharing person who packaged seeds from her garden free for the taking. This was a wonderful large pond and garden....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Westfall Garden

Our fourth stop on our group tour took us over toward my side of town (west side). Here we entered the magical backyard paradise of the Westfalls. Their pond was a very large pond that contained some beautiful fish and a classical pergola.
Our path to the backyard took us down this stone pathway. Mr. Fix-it and I got some good ideas on what we would like to build our backyard patio out of whenever we get aroundtuit. These stones were securely set into a base and the path itself was so darned perfectly level you would've thought it was not really stone. It made for a comfortable walking area.
Here are some of the beautiful koi. Do you see how the water adds light, reflection, and movement to the garden? Ponds provide this unique facet of gardens.
There was even a bit of whimsy in this garden. The pond area itself was part sun and part shade. Perfect conditions for a pond in my humble opinion. Here a seating area is set up under an apple tree. Watch out for the colorful lizard looking to get an apple or two!
This is the lower end of the pond next to the house. This pond had a retaining wall built on this side because the yard angled up toward the back of the property, away from the house. Building a pond like this serves a purpose in that the drainage from the slope is stopped above the pond so it will not drain toward the house, plus you have something nice to look at. Making a wall that lasts and is structurally sound is very important so if you undertake such a project be sure you do it right.
Do you remember I said Naomi is a learner and takes in all sorts of information? She was very interested in how these impatiens were growing in the water of the waterfall stream. Did you know impatiens grow in water? They do wonderfully in water.
These variegated irises were stunning.
This turtle shell made a nice statement.
Impatiens cascade down the waterfall.
A long shot of this large pond.
Finally I close with the newly built pergola near the pond....

in the garden....

 Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Monday, August 27, 2012

Garden Whimsy at Herman and Donna's Garden Pond

The third pond on our 2012 Montgomery County Water Garden Society Pond Tour was the garden pond of Herman and Donna. For me these tours are more about the gardens than the ponds. I believe ponds, and water in general, enhance a garden experience. I simply cannot tour for ponds only so please excuse me when I refer to the gardens. 

Herman and Donna are fellow master gardeners and actually spent some time in my garden in June during the Master Gardener Garden Tour. My husband and I really got to know them and enjoyed talking to them and Herman's sister, Sue. It was no surprise then that when the tour stopped at their garden I was pretty excited. Their garden made me feel right at home-let me tell you!
One of the first things I saw was this mosaic. My husband said I should ask Donna if she got inspired from my three mosaics like this in my garden. I immediately went to her and asked her and she said she was indeed inspired by my mosaic when she spent time in my garden in June and gave me a big hug. She immediately went home after the June visit and created her own glass gem-shower door mosaic and the result is above. Isn't it beautiful? Now I no longer have the claim to fame that my garden is the only one in this area with a mosaic. Harumph! Nah, just kidding. I am flattered that Donna loved the mosaic so much she created it. I can tell you they take some work and each and everyone will be a bit different and unique. Mounting them in the garden adds so much to a garden. I am so thrilled to see this beautiful one in Donna and Herman's garden. It was a big hit with our tour too.
Here is the backside of it. Both sides are gorgeous. One side is in 3D while the other one simply sparkles with color.
There was another reason I felt at home in this garden. There were so many wonderful garden art pieces and splendid seating areas that I surely felt at home. Here we have some of those famous tipsy pots made by Lola, and a tower that sparkles with gems.
This had to be my favorite piece aside from the mosaic of course. I plan to make one of these soon. Mr. Fix-it has already been forewarned.
The garden area was interesting. I did not actually explore the growing spaces but noticed this wonderful trellis made from cattle panels. I wish I had the room to do this in my garden. These trellises are perfect for growing vining crops.
The host of the tour, Terrie, loved loved loved this sparkly tree. She asked me to take a picture of it. It is an easy do it yourself project for anyone and not very expensive either. The 'gems' are plastic doodads you can buy at any hobby store. I bet you can get the tree there too.
This totem was created by Donna. She is quite the artist and had paintings displayed in her home that I loved. I unfortunately did not get pictures of them as Mr. Fix-it and I were in the food line and so I left my camera at our table. Speaking of which, part of the tour included a lunch provided to the VIPs (PreTour guests). The spread Herman, Donna, their daughter, and friends laid out for us all was pretty amazing. Everything from fried chicken to barbeque to chess pie! And a very comfortable spot to eat it too! A few of us sat under a gazebo right next to the huge pond and enjoyed a shady spot to eat al fresco. I tell you I was not ready to leave.
This little bicycle was all set for a champagne toast.
How about this nearby bottle tree?
I like rusty things so this large flower caught my eye. No fertilizing, weeding, or watering required!
Now this weeping Atlas Cedar would need some help from the gardener. It was a specimen plant I wished I had in my garden.
Naomi was our traveling companion on this date. She thoroughly enjoyed herself as you can see. Pond tours are great to get good ideas not only about ponds but about gardens. Naomi is a learner and she savored everything we saw this day.
This whimsical koi caught my eye. He looks like he was washed up high and dry doesn't he?
Ah, here is the pond. This post is long and I was not sure if I even included the pond. I am really glad I did!! Herman used to have three ponds that he very recently combined into one large pond. This is one of the ponds that was less than three feet deep. He was limited on how deep he could go by fill lines under the pond. Pipes and lines are a big consideration when digging a pond. I made sure my waterline was no where near where I dug my pond as well. It takes some work to figure this all out but you must know where your lines are prior to digging to avoid costly mistakes down the road.
This neat piece of art was a hanging planter that really stood out to me.

As did the potted wreath welcoming all to Donna and Herman's garden....

in the garden....

 Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Russell's Shady Pond



Next up is the Russell's pond. It was quite a large pond sited under a good canopy of trees. The pond itself was only about two feet deep; which I thought was interesting. In fact, there was at least one or two other ponds that were two feet deep. I am used to koi ponds being about three feet deep but it seems that in this area they can be much shallower. The koi were all very happy.


This pond had great reflective qualities due to the shade.The waterfall was quite large and really looked natural and inviting in its setting on the shady hill.
In fact, the pond area was so inviting this friendly butterfly made itself right at home. Occasionally it would land on a visitor then flutter off.

There were several pieces of art located in this hillside garden. My eye was immediately drawn to this concrete stool. There was also another concrete piece close by. I did not get to ask who was the artist but hope they know their work is wonderful....

in the garden....

 If you wish to buy tickets for this Saturday's pond tour (9-4), you can do so at Dave's Small Engine and Repair on the bypass, or at Orgain Building and supply. You can also contact the MCWGS via their webpage. On tour day you can buy tickets at the MCWGS tent set up in front of Dave's Small Engines.

 Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Porter's Pond

This past weekend Mr. Fix-it and I had the opportunity to preview all of the ponds on the 2012 Montgomery County Water Garden Society Pond Tour. What a treat! I really think that if you are asked to be on this tour you should jump on it as the pre-tour that all of the pond owners are treated to as a thank you for allowing their ponds to be on display is worth all the work!

I took pictures of six gardens ponds (not mine and not my friend Naomi's but I'll get hers later--if you'd like to see her garden look at this post found here). There are actually seven ponds on the tour but Mr. Fix-it and I toured an additional pond after the pre-tour.

We start at the Porter's pond simply because it is listed as the first pond on the ticket. I will post one post per pond over the next week or so.

As you drive up to the Porter's circular driveway you are greeted by this splendid concrete water fountain; flanked on either side by huge clumps of Musa bajoo, aka Hardy Japanese bananas.The fountain is sited perfectly and makes a great focal point out front.
The large pond you are seeking is around to the left of the house where you'll walk under a wonderful covered patio. And look who else found the pond? This super alligator looked very real. The fish obviously know it is not because they were not one bit afraid of it. My fish would never have been seen if I put something like this in my pond. I learned this the hard way when I put a duck in my pond that scared the fish so bad they stayed on the bottom of the pond. At any rate I loved this alligator so I might try it with my fish. It looks very realistic doesn't it? It gives the pond a touch of whimsy that makes one go hmmmm.....
This waterfall is one I wish mine was more similar to. I like how it has two steps before it falls into the water. The plantings around the waterfall were stunning and totally hid all of the mechanics of the pond.
And here are some of the lucky people who got treated to the pond pre-tour! They are admiring the deep and beautiful pond where happy koi reside.
The lotus in this pond were quite fascinating. My friend Naomi went along too since her pond is also on the tour. She loves the lotuses and is looking to add some to her pond so she really enjoyed seeing them here. You'll see her and Mr. Fix-it in a later post.
On the way out we noticed some cages on the back side of the house. Look at how cool this dovecote is set up. The doves looked quite happy and beautiful. They added to the ambiance at this home that had many wonderful potted plants, gardens, and the lovely pond.

Finally, I believe the area within the rocks used to house a smaller pond. Apparently the homeowners upgraded and made a large pond closer to their home. Pond siting is a major consideration when building a pond. Be sure to place it where you'll enjoy it most, though I am sure these homeowners enjoyed this pond very much and just wanted a larger one. 

Next up is the Russell Pond....

in the garden....

If you wish to buy tickets for this Saturday's pond tour (9-4), you can do so at Dave's Small Engine and Repair on the bypass, or at Orgain Building and supply. You can also contact the MCWGS via their webpage. On tour day you can buy tickets at the MCWGS tent set up in front of Dave's Small Engines. 

 Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden