Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!

Happy Valentine's To Us! (What's Wrong with Us?)
So Matt (who hates Valentine's Day--"It was invented by Hallmark"--"No it wasn't--it was an ancient Roman festival."--"Yeah, an ancient Roman festival to sell flowers"--Sigh) and I, who have never been a huge fan of the V-Day myself, decided to celebrate Valentine's Day by digging ourselves a pond.

Happy Valentine's to us! Go us! Power to the pondsters!

...What the hell were we thinking? A bouquet, some chocolates, and some lamb chops--1 hour's effort, several day's enjoyment. Would that really have been so hard?

Instead... God, I hurt. I'm not sure if I'll ever walk again.

Anyway, for the record (the medical record?), here's what we did.

1. Use a hose to determine the shape of the pond.
The original pond came with the house, and while we're grateful (especially for the rock structure, which must have been a chore and a half), it really is too tiny for the size of the yard. It's more of a glorified puddle than a pond. So Matt & I dinked with the hose for a good half hour--I wanted it bigger--he wanted it smaller. We both wanted it to create a sense of embracing and enclosing--he also wanted a screening effect. Part of him kept trying to design for a sitting area, while part of him kept arguing that we have too many sitting areas (I agree with Personality #1, by the way, but then "Too much is never enough" may well be my gardening motto.) We finally settled on a shape and dimension that more or less accommodated all our combined criteria--even the contradictory ones.

2. Dig a small trench around the hose.
We also dug up the ligustrum, whose aggressive root system killed the liner on the previous incarnation of this pond. In a way, we're sad to see it go because it provided much needed shade and coverage. The tree-less pond area now looks like a war zone. But it's a pond-slayer, an invasive pest, and it was right in the middle of where I plan to put the new fountain. So. Adios, ligustrum.

3. Dig like a mofo.
You should first dig the entire pond to the level of your highest shelf--usually 1 foot. This shelf is for any boggy/margin-dwelling plants you want in your pond.

Lucky for us, we've had a sopping wet week, so the soil was all loamy and fluffy--like digging a chocolate mousse cake. Or possibly a chocolate pâté. A very heavy, muddy, back-breaking chocolate pâté.

4. Bask in the glory.
Then realize that all you have achieved is a giant mud pit that will stay there until you expend several dozen more hours of work to dig the deep spots, lay the underlayment, install the pond liner, fill the pond, dig away the top layer of sod from the edge of the pond, create a rock border covering the edge of the pond liner, create a crushed granite terrace/walkway, and create the surrounding flower beds.

Well. It's a very nice mud pit.

5. Dream of the future.

A. Small yellow rose propagule--identity unknown. (B) Chestnut rose (Rosa roxburghii) (C) Bauhinia sp. (D) Crinum 'Ellen Bosanquet' (E) Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) (F) 'Purple Robe' Blacklocust (Robinia pseudoacacia) (G) new copper fountain to be ordered from England--ooo-la-la!

On the subject of fountains, you have no idea how difficult it is to find a nice (affordable) pond fountain. All the inexpensive mass-produced stuff is spitting dolphins and small Belgian children fondling themselves while relieving their bladders. Ick. When I was at the Chelsea flower show, I had seen a lovely copper fountain shaped like a Fritillaria imperialis. I was sure we'd have plenty of similar items available over here, but no. Expectorating waterfowl, yes. Copper botanical sculptures--alas, no. Anyway, I eventually found this lovely, simple, elegant thing by a guy named Gary Pickles in the UK. Pretty, no?

On the Weather
It turned out to be a beautiful day--the perfect temperature for digging: mid-50s. But it started out cold and rimy. (I don't get to use the word "rime" anything like often enough). Here's a very chilly Texas red oak (Quercus buckleyi).

And here's out Mutabilis hedge, edged in frost.

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