Sunday, August 15, 2010

Back to the Pond

We've pretty well let the pond sit for most of July and early August. Come to think of it, we haven't put a lot of effort into the rest of the house/yard either. It, as Ella Fitzgerald so justly observed, is too damn hot. Plus, it's been the season of niecephews: the first of the next generation of both my and my husband's nuclear families were born during the past month (Hello to little Delilah (b. Jul 11) and Andrew (b. Aug 13)!)

But various friends and family members keep threatening to come and see the pond, even in its present, tattered, unfinished, and semi-functional state. So. Time for the next big push: time to buy some stones.

We went to a number of different stone suppliers in town, trying to match the flat, orangey rocks that came with the property and that now partially encircle the pond. After some initial disappointment, we found a good match at Jacobs and Son way out on 620: apparently, we've got something called "Texas Bronze cotton rock," which comes from the San Saba region. So we measured the remaining exposed bits of pond liner and the terrace in front of the pond, and we bought (yeek!) 4 tons of rock, to be delivered this Tuesday. So moving that into place will no doubt be a breeze.

A pallet of Texas Bronze; pic from the Jacobs & Son site. We ordered 3 of these.

A note on the geology: Jacobs and Son lists this as a "cotton rock." The internet draws a blank on "Texas Bronze cotton rock," but cotton rock in general is supposed to be a whitish limestone. So here's the question: have we rimmed our pond in limestone (which would explain the pH problems)? If so, why is it such a brittle and crumbly rock? And what to make of the fact that it's not remotely cotton colored? All are mysteries.

And speaking of pH, I mentioned an entry or two ago that the pond plants looked like hell--even more tip burn and general poutiness than usual, plus the waterlilies were sadly puny and diminished. So it was clearly time to undertake a late summer cleaning of the pond. Bother. So I removed dead leaves and flowers, fertilized the prima donnas (which I really didn't want to do, but they were looking so depressed), and once again tackled the pH.

This time I followed the advice of the Emerald Gardens guy, who said to pump out the top 10 or so inches and replace with fresh water. He also recommended stuffing pantyhose with peat moss and sinking them into the pond for a gentler, long-term buffering action. So I used 1 complete pair of pantyhose (the last in the house--if there's one thing I love about the aughts, it's the demise of pantyhose as a fashion accessory. Lemme tell you, the genie is never going back in that bottle.) I chopped each leg into thirds and made a seventh bundle out of the torso, and I put a piece of broken pavestone into each bundle. Then I deployed them around the pond. Some sank, and some floated for a while, looking like corpses that had been imperfectly hidden; we took to calling the little bundles jimmy hoffas. Eventually, they all sank to the bottom. Not sure it wouldn't have been just as effective to empty the peat bale directly into the pond and let the peat float loose, but the jimmy hoffas are at least a little tidier, if creepy.

And good news! As of this morning, the pH was down from a piping hot 9 or more acceptable solid 8. Let's see if it lasts. The fish continue to endure my experiments with admirable sang froid.

Meanwhile, we're also reshaping the prospective terrace (to bring it closer to the baby Burr oak so as to be able to lounge in shade, once it's big enough to make any), pounding in metal edging to shape the beds around the pond, and making some necessary and long-deferred extensions to the irrigation system (linking the primrose jasmine to the automated system and adding a sprinkler head for a particularly parched abelia in the shade bed).

We didn't finish anything--by 11, I could barely drag my braised and dripping carcass from one end of the yard to the other--but we made noble beginnings.


Anonymous said...

Ah yes, a leisurely evening by the pond with margaritas in hand, counting the fish and listening to the soft sound of cascading water from the fountain! The family part would be ME. I'll bring the tequilla. I look forward to meeting Lena.


Bob said...

There is rock like your pond rocks a little east of you, around McDade area if I remember correctly. It's a layered sand stone and is crumbly. It is the same color as the rock from north of San Saba but not of the same quality. I think you were probably better off with the San Saba rock as it is renowned for it's quality of holding up well and looking good, although more expensive. But 12 ton. Egads, I cringe at the thought of moving and placing that much rock. You guys are machines.

Elgin_house said...

We're working on it, Ladonna! Two tons down; two more to go. Ow.

Bob, the stuff you know... that's awesome. I had no idea that there was a similar rock in McDade, nor that San Saba rocks are especially tough. Glad we got the sturdy ones--after all the trouble we're going to laying the things out, we want them to hold up!

On a related note, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your recent post about your evening stroll to the river. Your eye for the land around you is so lovingly detailed that it's a real pleasure to see things from your perspective.

On an unrelated note, I counted seventeen baby fish in the pond the other day. Seventeen! Yikes!

Related Posts with Thumbnails