July 22nd, 2008
Austin Pond Society Tour 2008: 2

Austin Pond Tour
Full sun demands bright colors in Linda and Rusty’s trim and tidy pond with fancy goldfish.

Annie and Philo were gracious enough to let me carpool with them for Day 2 of the Austin Pond Society 2008 tour: the north country ponds. Annie and I talked non-stop, often forgetting to provide directions to a very patient Philo. Amazingly we managed to see all fifteen ponds with time to spare. Early on, we both agreed we weren’t interested in giving a blow-by-blow account of the tour. I didn’t even take photos at every location. And then, as if to reinforce our resolve, technology failed us. First Annie’s camera stopped working and then I had problems posting photos to Twitter via Twitpic.

The theme of this year’s ponds tour was owner-made ponds. Some were tiny. Some were huge. And all were very, very personal. There was something for every taste and sensibility from trim suburban ponds in a lawn of grass so green that I bent down to touch it see if it were real to ponds that seemed to have evolved in situ. There were ponds built by koi fanciers and ponds that were an excuse for a plant person to explore bog and water plants. Many ponds were inhabited by fairies.

Austin Pond TourFred and Mary’s two ponds took up half their back yard which was covered with plants. They have lots of garden ornamentation but I liked these fairies cavorting in the waterfall best because they seemed like they might disappear if I blinked my eyes.

Even if you couldn’t be with us, you were in our thoughts. Throughout the day, Annie and I kept noticing little details that reminded us of y’all. On a window ledge we saw tiny flower pots and a child’s tea set which made us think of Carol’s fairies at May Dreams Gardens. And when we saw the decorated outbuildings, the grouping of plants, and garden ornaments around seating at Jody and David’s pond, we turned to each other and said, “Pam/Digging would like this garden!”

Austin Pond Tour

Jody’s mermaid collection called to mind Lucinda Hutson. Not only does Jody have the knack for arranging the pots and furniture in her garden, look at how beautifully she’s grouped the different shapes and textures of pond plants.

Austin Pond Tour

Austin Pond Tour

Kathy and Rick’s garden (which was featured on the Central Texas Gardener) is an oasis in the dry scrub and 100-degree heat. The size, of course, is astonishing. I especially liked their unusual sculptures. We sat to rest on their porch, looking down on the ponds and across the valley. I didn’t want to leave.

Austin Pond Tour

by M Sinclair Stevens

18 Responses to post “Austin Pond Society Tour 2008: 2”

  1. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    This is just the perfect write up of the tour, as though we were all with you and Annie and Philo looking at the ponds. I love the little fairies in the water. I left a comment on Annie’s blog asking if you were tempted to sit down on the edge of a pond and dangle your feet in the water, or just jump in one, as hot as it was.

    Thanks for letting us tag along in spirit. I do love the idea of tiny flower pots and tea sets for my own miniature garden.

    But I’ll pass on something like that head sticking up out of the water in that last picture!

    Yes, I know you don’t like faces in the garden. Which was the flip side of our conversation. “Oh, look at that face on the tree. Carol would HATE that. No. For some reason, it never crossed my mind to dangle my feet in the water or to even touch it. Maybe one reason is that most ponds were surrounded by plants. Somehow it would be a violation–like tramping through someone’s flower beds.

  2. From Jenny Austin:

    It certainly looks as though it was a perfect day for the tour. Unfortunately I had to miss this one and from your photos it looks as though it was one of the best. Thanks for the tour.

    It was a bit hot but most of the ponds were in the shade…something that surprised me given that pond books always advise to plant in full sun (so that waterlilies can bloom and leaves don’t get in the ponds). I guess what applies to Texas gardeners applies to Texas pond builders; full sun elsewhere is not our full sun. — mss

  3. From Bob Pool:

    I so enjoyed our brief visit. You were just as charming and enjoyable in person as you are on your blog. You were not what I was expecting. You looked like someone’s gardener instead of the literary professor that I had conjured up from your writings. I liked you immediately.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your oral surgery and hope you don’t lose too much weight from not eating. As little as you are I wouldn’t want you to blow away.

    How I enjoyed meeting you! I wish that we had had more time to talk. I was distracted by people arriving. (Feel free to email me with blogging questions.) Perhaps I would look a bit more professorial if I wore my glasses as I do when I write. But I’m more comfortable in my peasant clothes. My hands and clothes are so grubby that I have been mistaken for a homeless person. And, lordy! If I can’t eat for a week I hope I lose some weight–otherwise all this crabbiness for nought. — mss

  4. From Jan @ Always Growing:

    Looks like you all had a great time. Unlike Carol, I’d love that head in the last picture. Reminds me of the Lady of the Lake rising to give King Arthur his sword.

    It reminded me of the Lady of the Lake, too…although, that would be just an arm, wouldn’t it? I liked it. — mss

  5. From linda:

    Beautiful pond tour! Thanks for taking us along. The ponds are all beautiful and interesting, as well as the plants and sculpture. I can understand why this is an eagerly-anticipated event.

    There is an amazing amount of variation on a theme. I never guessed that there could be so many types of ponds. — mss

  6. From our friend Ben in Pennsylvania:

    What fun, Melissa!!! I love water gardens and was delighted to join you on your virtual tour! Wish we had one like that up here. I guess I’ll just have to content myself with my three container water gardens and my neighbor’s in-ground water garden, which golden retriever Molly and I sometimes sneak over to see…

    Annie suggested that there are less ponds in gardens up north because of the issues with freezing. Is that true in Pennsylvania as well as Chicago do you think? — mss

  7. From Cindy, Katy:

    Dang, I wish I’d made it to Austin for this year’s tour. I’m getting ready to expand my pond and your pictures have given me some great ideas. On second thought, maybe it’s good that I didn’t, or my enthusiasm would know no bounds! I’m in awe that these ponds were created by their owners, especially Kathy and Rick’s. I’m exhausted just imagining the work they put into it!

    Yes, it’s hard to believe that Kathy and Rick’s pond was a DIY job. I can’t imagine us tackling a project like that and both surviving to tell the tale. — mss

  8. From Annie in Austin:

    The Pond Tour is always fun, but seeing the water gardens with you gave an extra dimension to the day, MSS!

    I loved the ceramic sculptures at Kathy & Rick’s garden. The video clip from Central Texas Gardener on YouTube mentioned that Rick makes the ceramics and that the enormous and heavy liner had to come on a trailer from Oklahoma. This pond was huge!

    I knew people who had lovely pond gardens in IL but Northern winters are hard on the materials and ice damages them. The ground doesn’t freeze here and the pond are able to support wildlife year round….maybe that’s one reason Ponding is so big in Austin?

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Yes, people. If you didn’t see the YouTube clip in the last post, it’s worth watching. The liner for that huge pond was 1500 lbs or so, wasn’t it? Until you mentioned it I didn’t think ponds were more popular in Austin than in other parts of the country. Makes sense. Also I think people really need an oasis to escape to in the summer. — mss

  9. From Nancy Bond:

    The water coming out of that urn in the first photo…I love it! The head in the pond seems a bit misplaced, but I guess one could imagine a goddess emerging from the water. 🙂 She needs some plantain in her hair or something…

    Several ponds adapted the pouring urn idea. Even more popular was using native limestone to make the pond look like a natural spring. I can’t think of one pond that didn’t have some sort of water pouring down some way–either from a container or a waterfall. Mine doesn’t. So I’ll have to think about that some more. — mss

  10. From Gail:

    Perhaps the universe conspired to aid you all in enjoying the moment! I’m not sure about such things…but I do know that ponds are relaxing to be near and oh so tempting to think about having in the garden. Kathy and Rick’s pond is lovely, thank you for posting the video. But I also liked the galvanized tub pond, it seems a pond many could manage.

    It is fun carpooling (as any Spring Flinger will tell you) because we get so much talking in between each spot we visit. I have to admit that I enjoyed the conversation at least as much if not more than the ponds themselves. — mss

  11. From Brenda:

    Oh my, so much inspiration! Thank you for this. We are planning on a pond for next year– a small one– and I love all of these.

    I never thought I’d get into pond gardening…but I’ve enjoyed it a lot. And all the people I’ve met at the Austin Pond Society are so friendly and helpful. I hope you can find a group where you live. — mss

  12. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    Well, I really must go on this tour next year—and not just as a virtual companion, though I appreciate your thinking of me. And you’re right—Jody and David’s pond and garden does sound intriguing.

    I really like that last image of the head sticking up, like someone emerging from a swim. In fact, I much prefer it to the submerged faces in the pool in the Ruins Garden at Chanticleer (see the picture on my post).

    Seems like people either love or hate the head. I think imagining it at someone emerging from the water makes it fun. Submerged heads are kind of disturbing, aren’t they? — mss

  13. From Katie, Folsom CA:

    I adore the pictures you’ve taken of the gardens – so colorful! And to hear that the last garden is in the Texas scrub makes it all the more impressive, although I could do without the head coming out of the water.

  14. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter:

    Your pond tour looks like it was so much better than mine! I am absolutely gobsmacked by that last photo – I’d put in a pond just to have that fantastic head coming up out of the water. Of course I’m a big fan of surrealism. I like the jar as a fountain too, but that’s not practical in a cold winter climate.

  15. From Annie in Austin:

    Back to say that the drowned faces at Chanticleer seemed kind of creepy to me MSS, but that wouldn’t stop me from liking them.

    I don’t think the head that Rick made was creepy…maybe its position in the waterlilies implied there was a whole person modestly bathing under the lilypads? When we saw it in person it didn’t seem disembodied.

    We had some rain today, too! Yay! The window blinds are open and I feel a little giddy.


  16. From Link, Austin:

    It was so nice meeting you yesterday at the Think Group event. I wish you the best, and hope to see you again soon. (The blog is fantastic — I visit often.)

    Link Davidson

    It was great meeting you, too. I’m looking forward to your book coming out. Isn’t it odd that out of a group of almost 30 people, we ended up next to each other? — mss

  17. From The hunky Gardener:

    Great website. The pics are kickin!

  18. From Earnest and Barbara Willis:

    Sure did enjoy the pictures and reading about the pond tour. All of the ponds shown here are great and our very favorite one is the first one shown. Thanks for posting them.
    Ern and Barb