Friday, March 30, 2012

The New Garden Addition: Stock Tank Pond

For some time now, I've followed Digging, my favorite Austin garden blog. I've so admired Pam Pennick's stock tank pond, that I vowed to copy it. This year I committed to removing a huge swatch of water-guzzling St. Augustine from my backyard and getting that pond of my own. Twelve yards of dirt were mounded up to give some growing power to beds in my typical builder backyard, rock with two inches of dirt and struggling sod on top. Five yards of decomposed granite laid the foundation for the pond tank, widened the path to the garbage and compost enclosure, and mulched the beds. Multiple loads of limestone boulders and small river rock were manhandled into place to set the contours and accent the beds.

stock pond tank garden
view from near back gate
There is an fenced enclosure to the right here that hides garbage cans and a rotating barrel composter. The neighbors' huge life oak is also that direction, just out of range of dropping all those tassels and leaves into the pond, but right now covering everything within reach.

stock tank pond addition
looking toward patio
This view from near the enclosure entrance shows the corner of the sunroom, where I have my glass studio and jewelry bench. In the distance, you can see the turquoise disappearing fountain at the edge of a dry river bed with a cedar bench. Around the curve is sunroom entrance and the patio, now awaiting new dining furniture.

path from patio past stock tank pond to gate
The view back towards the gate shows the new anacacho orchid tree that I planted at the edge of the live oak canopy so that it gets morning sun but is protected from our killer late afternoon Texas sun (it's also on the South side of the house, protected from winter storms). Behind it you can see the enclosure I mentioned above. There's a slight change of level from the path to the pond circle, and a seating area on the shadier side. The twelve-year old Texas mountain laurel gave an incredible show of fragrant purple flowers this year, but I failed to get any photos. In the foreground, a new whale's tongue agave takes pride of place in the raised stone bed with low Blaze roses and a new bottle tree (waiting impatiently for blue bottles to be emptied of their contents).

new stock tank pond
This closeup of the new stock tank pond showcases my new waterlilies and dwarf papyrus. Early this morning three buds had broken the surface. Hiding beneath the water are pots of anacharis and some free floating cabomba. In the background are a new Mexican buckeye and another Texas mountain laurel, salvia, gold lantana, Knockout 'Redrazz' roses, yellow bulbine (as opposed to orange, which I put everywhere), soft leaf yucca, and in the back corner, a silver mountain laurel that seems unlikely to survive its transplanting (very sad about this!). 

first Colorado waterlily bloom
A few hours later when the sun popped out, the first bloom of my first Colorado waterlily opened.

stock tank pond
It's pretty clear from this angle that the pond is quite green at the moment. Most of the plants have been in place for about a month. Last weekend I added fish - two goldfish and about twenty small mosquito fish.  So far, so good. I was waiting on a tropical waterlily for the second lily, but finally caved and bought a second hardy lily since I'm trying to get the pond to balance itself and wanted to get more plants into the water. 

The artist in me finds it very inspiring to work back and forth between the outside garden and the inside studios. I've made additions to the garden almost every year for the fourteen that we've been here, but never expected to stay long term. Now since the kitchen remodel, I've embraced that we may be here for many years to come and I should try to make the entire place fit my artistic vision.