As most of you regular readers know, I’m sorta pond crazy. My obsession started in Indiana, where I put in a small but elaborate in-ground stone-edged pond in my back yard, and a bathtub pond up by my garden. I also had a kiddy wading pool for the neighborhood dogs in the driveway, and one year, a pair of passionate toads filled it will handfuls of squiggly toad eggs. I had a small pan in the garden filled with water so that insects and frogs could come to drink, and frogs laid eggs there, too. Since then, I’ve loved putting together water gardens of one sort or another, just to see what showed up in them. If nothing took up residence, I’d always put in a few fish to keep the mosquitos managed.
In my little blue rental house, I dedicated on of my large plastic planter pots to a pond of sorts. Nothing moved in, but has been a pretty little thing, and a nice spot for mossy pieces of wood. So, today, while it pours bucket outside and the day is as cold as can be, while the sourdough starter bubbles on my counter and a pan of sweet peppers roasts in the oven, I’m dreaming of little waters. My plan for our new house is another bathtub pond (courtesy of my friend, Leslie, who has an old claw foot tub she’s donating to my pond dreams). I also plan to work in a wine barrel into this pond configuration. The house’s previous owners left behind a big lavender plant in a half wine barrel, and I’ll transplant the lavender and have my way with the barrel. I’m wanting to set this up so that somehow, the barrel “pours” into the bathtub.
Making small water features takes absolutely no special training. You just need to like to play with water. You can purchase tiny fountain pumps in a variety of sizes in any hardware store if you want your water garden to bubble or trickle or do a fountain-style spray. If you go on Craisglist and put in the word “pond,” you will find all sorts of pond statuary, plants, critters, buckets, pumps, you name it. I’ve added some photos I grabbed around the internet to get you dreaming…
When I lived in Idaho and the humidity was super-low, I put one of those garden fountains that you would mount on an outside wall (Home Depot and Lowes carry a bunch of these), and put it on a living room wall instead. I poured in about a gallon of water, Turned on the pump, and as soon as it sat a few hours to off-gas the chlorine, I added a small spider plant—these like to get their feet wet—and a pretty fan-tailed guppy. Some plants, I put in right in their plastic pot. Some plants like to float right in the water. The fish poop feeds the plants, and the fish nibble on the plant roots. I’ve never had to add any extra food for any of the critters who find their way into my water inventions. The plants feed them. Water, plants, fish, and voila! Indoor pond and extra humidity all in one!
Here in Washougal, I won’t need extra humidity. So I’ll keep my water gardens and ponds outside. There will be no end to things to put into this bathtub/barrel pond. I muck about creek shores and marshes all the time collecting stones, wood, tiny minnows, snails, and frogs and baby newts when I find them. And I will be no stranger to Craigslist. Just about everything I’ve ever brought home to a home-made pond has thrived there, and I’ve thrived by enjoying my ever-changing, living creations. It’s a win-win!