images-1As 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.

UnknownMaking 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!

imagesHere 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!

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  1. Jeanna says:

    LOL A couple of years ago, we got a small pool to rehab our doxie that had back surgery. In no time, 4 frogs had moved in and our rehab pool became the frog pond! Ponds are wonderful and home to so many little critters!

  2. These photos are so inspiring, Susan. I have a small pond with recirculating water, and the frogs love it in there. One day I was cleaning out the pond and a frog jumped out and sat on a rock next to me. He watched while I cleaned and refreshed the water. Then he jumped back in. Such a lovely moment.

    • Susan McElroy says:

      Yes, Chris, those photos get me to pondering. So simple, yet so creative! Today, I just saw my little frog in the wading pool, still floating along sort of comatose, but it has been cold here. What a delight to see him again!

  3. d.B. says:

    Thanks for reviving my interests in ponds! As soon as the snow melts here I am ready and in the meantime am looking for a re-sourced item to use. If I add plants what can be done to winter them if my pond ends up being pretty small and above ground? Love seeing the pictures, does anyone have any more they can share to generate some ideas?


    • Susan McElroy says:

      Hi Denise: Glad you are “sparked!” What climate do you live in? Most of the plants I stick in my ponds are houseplants (spider plants), and hardy outdoor stuff. House plants come inside for the winter. The hardy stuff mostly just winters over. Some of the hardy stuff, if not hardy enough, can go into a bucket and live in your garage for the winter. If you get plants and are uncertain, just start googling around for “winter care of (insert your plant here)”. You will find no end of information. Also, I let my frogs decide where to stay—in the water, or some other zone. They seem to know what they need best.

      Denise, google “container pond images,” and you will be floored by the ideas. Also, one of my favorite pond sites is Robyn’s pond or somesuch thing. She has lots of pond things going all the time, and winters her plants inside in pots.

  4. d.B. says:

    Thank you, “Google” here I come! I live in Northern Michigan in a city nestled between 2 bays that feed into Lake Michigan, The Mackinaw Bridge is about 1 1/2 hr. drive…that would be worth a Google on your end, you’d like the area! It’s the sound of the pond and its ability to lure me to it that I am looking forward to.

    Yesterday I watched a Barred Owl be driven off in the early morning hours by Crows, these birds come in small groups for nearly 4-5 minutes shouting out loudly to one another. They landed in the Poplar trees on the hill above my house in all there must have been 50 or more of them. The Owl sat still on a tree below the hill near my creek (I assume looking for a snack)not moving except to turn its head to follow the arrival of each group up to the trees. Next scene, Crows and Owl are still and quiet and then it was as if the Crows had all agreed when to make their move because all at once they left the trees and descended towards the Owl with loud protests. The Owl with its long wing span flew quickly and silently down further into the marsh and disappeared. As quick as that happened the Crows flew off? What was that all about?

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