Monday, June 25, 2007

Plants for your rain garden

And if you don't have a rain garden built yet, here are some plants for wet areas in your garden:

Arrowwood viburnum shrubs
Swamp milkweed, which is a good butterfly plant
Elephant ear plants--this is a tropical plant and is the only one that will not survive in lower zones.
Wild bergamot
Marsh marigolds.
Here in Louisiana our swamps are full of marsh marigolds. I think they are a cousin of hibiscus or mallow because flowers look the same. Louisianians call them marshmallows. Doncha love it?

I have my rain garden planted and it is filling in slowly. Be sure, when you remove the sod, you remove it all. I didn't do a great job, so spent several hours on my hands and knees, sinking into some pretty stinky water getting the rest of the grass out.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Flowers from the garden

With the New Orleans heat upon us, the summer flowers are beginning to put on a show.

Cuphea Torpedo. I think the common name is bat faced heather. Fierce looking isn't he?

My caladium is flowering already

I wanted a grey plant and chose a wonderful aromatic curry plant.

I found some Amazon dianthus. Huge and gorgeous.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pond on the cheap

You can't skimp on a liner or a pump, but you can build your pond without rocks. Use landscape timbers. Build them up like Lincoln Logs in any shape you wish. You have to use about 16 penny nails, so be prepared to whack at them with at least a heavy roofing hammer. When you have it as high as you wish, line the inside with roofing felt and drop the liner in. Fill up the pond and then use a 1 x 4 to finish the top. If you wish, you can have a waterfall in a corner, but a bubbler in the middle is just as nice.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Pond questions - leeches

I'm planning to do a bit of pond cleaning one of these days. I'm not looking forward to it though due to me finding a large number of leaches below one of several rocks in my pond. They're quite small, about 1 cm in length, probably because there isn't much in the pond to suck blood out of. I've got about 20 goldfish in the pond and I've never seen one of them with a leach attached to it.

Is it normal to have leaches in ponds?
Where did they come from?
Is it safe to get in the water without getting some horrible disease from them?
Will the leaches latch onto the goldfish, or will my fish eat the
leeches? (probably both)

Leeches or blood worms are harmless and quite normal in ponds, although we don't like them. They can help your pond by eating some of the organic matter trapped in your filter. They will be eaten readily by the fish and are carried in, as eggs, in bird poop. Birds are the carrier host. The type primarily found in our ponds are not the swimming type, so the fish are safe for the most part and they will usually be found in filter matting where the fish can't get them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Speaking of koi

Koi ponders have learned the hard way that their fish tear up every plant they try to grow in the pond with them. The plant debris clogs up filters and pumps, and even skimmers. It makes a big mess. Koi owners have realized that they had to make a choice between the two and apparently decided on the fish. Most of the koi owners I know have two ponds, one for fish and one for the plants they started with. Koi aren't prima donnas, they are terribly destructive. If they weren't beautiful, and filled with personality, we wouldn't even bother with them at all.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Letters, we get letters

Question about koi pond construction:

I have had several propositions so far this year for a pond. I know where I want it, just not entirely sure how to build it. I want it 5' below ground and 2' above ground, with a viewing window facing the house. I want it right behind my swimming pool so I can almost literally swim with my fishes.

The offers were from two builders in particular, one wants to do gunnite and the other will use EPDM, both will do it over reinforced concrete block. One wants to build a filter shed in the corner of the yard, and the other wants to put a filter "room" below ground next to the house. It is for koi so it will have to have a bottom drain, or two, and the biggest filtration I can afford. I also will, being in Florida which is aka predator heaven, screen it in with my lanai and use the same patio paver blocks around the pond area to match the rest of the
deck area. What do you think? Have I lost my marbles?

Pondlady sez:

I think your plans are over the top!
Oh, one thing. Often swimming pool builders have pond
We both know all the problems with concrete, especially in FL
where you are pretty close to sea level. Might want to find out your elevation before doing gunnite.
The filter room below ground can make it difficult to access
when things need servicing.

Answer to pondlady's question:

One gave me a wonderful price for Diamond Brite. What do you know about using this in a pond? I have the same thing in my pool, which is just a finish as far as I know, over concrete construction.
I am above sea level here and the ground is graded so that my property is about 4-5' above the roads and fields around the area. They have to do that because of the septic leachfields I think. Anyway, I am building it 2' above ground to be on the safe side. I have also spoken to the other guy, a pond builder who is expert with koi ponds, to do the installation of the filtration equipment. So these two guys will work together on it to assure me of the best my money can buy.

Pondlady sez:

I don't know Diamond Brite, but think it is just a brand name for a finish, just as you mentioned.
Your pond sounds as if it will be divine. Please send pictures during and after construction.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Pond questions

I have a pond about 3' wide and about 2 1/2' deep- all fish have died in last 2 months- noticed whitish discoloring on the skin developed then they died. Had about 12 or 14. Would a light in pond help?


Pondlady sez:
A light won't do anything for keeping the fish alive. The whitish discoloration may be parasite infestation if it was noticeable before they died. Otherwise, it may have nothing at all to do with the deaths.

My guess is that there was not enough oxygen in the water to
support that many fish. In fact, I doubt there was enough water unless the fish were very small. If you didn't have filtration, that would be another problem. The light will do nothing at all that I know of.

If you put too many fish in your pond, inevitably, you will have a fish kill. It WILL happen.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Spring garden

My garden this spring is like all gardens in the deep south - beautiful. In New Orleans, all we have to do is throw seeds on the ground and jump back.

The Red Garden

The new garden room

My jumbled mess of a flower garden

Celebrity tomatoes

Stargazer lilies