raccoon damage

May 22nd, 2008
Rage Against the Raccoons

The raccoons have been frolicking in the pond all week but this is the fourth day in a row that they’ve knocked over the pots and shredded plants. And that’s it. The net is going back on the pond. Sorry toads and frogs.

My primary concern is not the fish, it’s the plants. That one calla lily cost ten times more than all the cheap comet goldfish in my pond. The waterlily that Pam/Digging shared with me was just about to bloom. Now it’s partially torn from the pot and the bud has been bit in half. And the raccoons ripped through the canna leaves that the hail left undamaged.

raccoon damage
Shredded calla lily.

Ultimately, though, what I can’t put up with is the way the raccoons stir up the pond and turn the water all mucky. After we bought the bio/mechanical filter and the water cleared, we discovered how much we really enjoyed the water and being able to watch the fish in it. Now it’s murky and dank. If there are any fish left, I can’t see them. Sitting by the pond has lost its charm.

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Austin Pond Society Tour 2007
The tour’s featured garden was built into a steep hill. The owners are reported to have been inspired on the pond tour two years earlier. I wish my inspirations would take solid form like this.

July 18th, 2007
Austin Pond Society Tour 2007

One of the unexpected benefits of the garden house project is that we are becoming owners of a pond. I’ve wanted a pond for a long time. In anticipation of this new stewardship, we began checking out books on ponds. I realized quickly that I face a very steep learning curve. The Austin Pond Society’s annual tour was last weekend. Although I was in flight on Saturday, I decided I could extend my vacation one more day and spend Sunday visiting ponds instead of tending my own garden. Luckily, all the ponds open Sunday for viewing were in south Austin.

I really enjoyed the tour and it was well worth the $15 admission even though I managed to see only about 1/3 of the 30 ponds that were open to the public. What I liked best about the tour was the variety, little DIY ponds made by “normal” people with “normal” backyards; a pond in a funky old south Austin in a yard full of handcrafted buildings (including a screened porch room); brand new ponds which made the most of a steep otherwise unworkable sites by creating pools and waterfalls, artsy ponds in killer backyards overlooking Austin, and a series of ponds in a canyon being restored to native plantings. I even saw a house I’d give mine up for in a second…and only a few blocks (and several million dollars) away.

Everyone was really friendly, too, and all the owners were extremely nice in talking about their pond experiences. Owners, thanks so much for inviting the hoards into your back yards!

I’m afraid that my eye strayed more to the gardens and plants than to the ponds. I’m sure that once I have more experience with my own pond that I’ll become more attuned to what to look the next time I tour ponds. Part of the tour, my camera wasn’t working so I only have photos from three gardens.

Gary’s Garden
Gary Pettitt owns Seasonal Living Trading Co here in Austin and his garden is a showcase for his wares .
Austin Pond Society Tour 2007
Distracted by the poolside view overlooking Town Lake and the Austin, I thought the pond took a back seat. Which is difficult because what a pond it was!

Austin Pond Society Tour 2007
The backdrop was a 10-foot high drip wall which emptied into a 40-foot long, narrow but deep koi pond.

Austin Pond Society Tour 2007
A sculpture took center stage and on either side little statues of Buddha sat serenely in their niches behind the flowing water.

Although this is not a pond I can imagine having in my own back yard, even if I had the money, it was wonderfully impressive. The rest of the yard was divided into various garden rooms, each showcase in itself.

Marc’s Garden
In contrast, Marc’s garden and series of ponds better epitomized the Austin aesthetic for me. Imagine having your own canyon in which to create a hidden paradise–very Shangri-la.

Austin Pond Society Tour 2007

He is transforming the canyon on his property into a series of ponds. Native plants are being reintroduced. And I felt a special kinship for his collection of rocks and folk art and other quirky sculptures made from found objects.

David’s Garden
Walking into David Amdur’s garden I felt that I’d been transported to the Austin of my youth. The artist/designer/builder has handcrafted his own house and all the furniture in it. The large yard meanders down a hillside (a common theme on the pond tour). In a grove at the bottom of the garden is a little screened porch room which I thought was as cute a button. AJM gave me a look as if to say, well if you wanted something like that… I don’t want to trade, I think my screened porch room is the right thing for our yard.