This page last updated: 12/23/17
As told by Mary Anne
This is the story of what turned out to be our beautiful water garden/pond. While Bruce was off work, and on chemotherapy last winter/early spring (January to June 2003), he talked about and planned, a water garden complete with lilies, plants and fish. Personally, I hoped he would just talk about it as I thought it would be a lot of work! He would go weeks without mentioning “the pond” and then all of a sudden he is laying out plans on paper! EEEKKKK!!!! The closer the calendar moved toward spring, the more he talked about “the pond”. Therefore, I began to accept that it was going to happen and became involved in the planning.
We knew we wanted the pond close to our deck where we could enjoy watching the fish and seeing the plants and flowers grow. Now, keep in mind this area is where our Maggie (see Ruler of the House photo in album) goes “POOP”. What to do about Maggie? This would cut down her area quite a bit. We decided Maggie would adjust and went ahead with plans. She did, and she has. She is a good girl.
Spring arrived and Bruce laid out the water hose on the grass in the formation of the pond. Now it was real to me. It was really going to happen! Luckily, Bruce had very few side effects from the chemotherapy he underwent and was able to do most of the work himself. He was scheduled to return to work the middle of June so we had to hustle to get this done! We started this project about the middle of May. . He thought he could dig the hole himself, against ALL our arguments to the contrary. Friends of ours brought in their little “bob cat” and dug the hole for us before Bruce could start digging. The hole was dug! We were excited! Then, it began to rain. It rained, and rained, and rained. We got EIGHT inches of rain in just a few days leaving the hole and surrounding area a muddy mess. Of course, it finally dried out and work began. First of all our son Paul, and Bruce, laid the under liner, then the rubber liner in the bottom of the pond. This was no easy feat. Imagine fifty car tires melted together in a huge, heavy piece and try laying that into a hole thirty inches deep, nine feet wide, and seventeen feet long without tearing it on any sharp edges! Bruce did the hard work on the pond. I was the supervisor. This really means I was the “go-fer”..you know, go-fer a soda, go-fer this, go-fer that…
Then it was time to shop for the workings of the water garden. We discovered a company in our area, Waterscapes of Indiana , that installed water gardens for others. The owner sold the products we needed. The skimmer, the bio filter, the waterfall, and on and on. We purchased the necessary items and Bruce installed them. We were in hog heaven! Well, if you have a waterfall, you need rocks around it, right???? Out to the country we went to get rocks. All sizes of rocks. Many rocks. Here in the Midwest rocks seem to work their way up through the ground during the spring thaw. Each year when it comes time to work the soil, farmers must pick up these rocks to keep from damaging farming equipment. Thus, a rock pile. We carried rocks, I mean BIG rocks, smaller big rocks (those are the ones I carried), and more rocks. The back of our pick up truck was starting to sag. I was starting to sag, too. I asked Bruce “Isn’t this enough rocks?” He answered, “How would you like to quit and be 10 short of what we need?” We carried more rocks! Of course, then they had to be carried from the truck to the yard. We were able to back the truck into the yard through the chain link fencing at the gate, but that shorter distance did not make the rocks weigh any less. We were both exhausted. Guess what? We were MORE than 10 short of what we needed. Back out to the country we went for more rocks. I never did count them but believe me, there are a lot!! I do not care if I NEVER move another rock in my life! Finally, it was the end of the day and time to quit. We marveled at our handy work for a few days and even had a few bog plants and lilies in the water, when Bruce decided there was too much rubber liner showing. We had to lower all the stones around the edge. I think this was the beginning of our first “fight” during the building of "the pond". Tempers began to flare a bit. The plants came out of the water, things were moved around and we began to rearrange the stones. There were times I thought I was not going to make it around the edge of that pond. Bruce kept telling me I could do it. He is a former Marine, remember! I had to hold the rubber up while Bruce used his entrenching tool (from his stint in the Marines) to dig out the dirt which lowered the depth of the pond enough to place the stones at water’s edge. Yes, we had it full of water. Twenty-five hundred gallons to be precise. With his encouragement and my prayers, we got the job done. It did look much better. Now, we were REALLY pleased with our work.
By this time, we had added a few fish to the pond.They soon became “our kids” and we even named them. As spring progressed into summer, the lilies bloomed (see photos at bottom of this page), the pond became covered with plant life, the fish grew, and we were quite proud of ourselves. We ordered KOI (Japanese fish) from a catalog online. Twelve to be exact. Six of one kind arrived. We put them into the pond. Quite proud of our growing family, the other six arrived and we duly dumped them into the pond. All was well until we found a fish dead in the skimmer! You guessed it…we had done everything wrong. We did not know we were supposed to quarantine new fish for three weeks BEFORE adding them to the existing pond! Of course, we ended up losing fish like crazy. There was an orange/white-striped KOI that we had named “Tigger”. She was special to us. She was pregnant!! We held our breaths hoping that Tigger would not get sick. She did, and ended up dying. I cried. It was on July 3rd. I called Purdue University to see about getting a post mortem on Tigger. We HAD to find out what was causing the death of the fish before we lost all of them. I had to get her there, on ice, by 3:00 p.m. It was 1:30 p.m. We live thirty minutes from the university. Do you have ANY idea how big a campus is??????? Thank God for cell phones! I got lost and made four calls to the girls in the clinic asking for directions. They would ask me where I was then and direct me from that point forward. There was construction all around the campus. Time was running out. I slid into the parking lot fifteen minutes before 3:00 p.m. It took weeks to find out what had happened to the fish, but by putting a salt block into the water (thank GOD for computers where we found the information we needed) we got the sickness stopped. Now we were back to the original nine fish, minus one…our Tigger. But…to our pleasant surprise, Tigger left us a present…baby KOI!!! Gazillions of baby KOI! We found them weeks later and were we ever happy!
Our pond has been a delight to us both. Like the father of a new baby, Bruce headed to the deck as soon as he came home from work each day. Maggie and I followed him outside and together we watched our family swim about their new home. We also watched the flowers and the plants grow, covering the pond area. Maggie wasn't sure what all the fuss was about but she sometimes watched the fish with us.
Bruce always awakens before me and on one particular day, he asked me to step outside as soon as I could get on my shoes.. That day our fist lily bloomed. What a magical sight! We have a digital camera so we took a picture of it opening. We came inside and downloaded the picture. By the time we went back outside to watch, it had unfolded some more. We took more pictures. We watched the lily until it had completely opened. You could actually see the petals opening up. We were delighted to witness such a miracle! It took about an hour to go from a bud to full bloom.
We had also bought four bullfrog tadpoles. Lo and behold, one day a frog appeared! We named him “Jeremiah” (“was a bullfrog..”). I fell in love with that little guy. He was a lot like me…could not keep his mouth shut. We would go out onto the deck and Bruce would make a bullfrog “call”. About two “calls” from Bruce and out from under a stone would come Jeremiah. He would croak back at us. He was so darned cute! Every time we went outside, there would be Jeremiah to greet us. One Friday night, he did not come out. The next morning he did not appear either and this “mother” was getting nervous. Where was my Jeremiah? We have a creek running through our property, and in fact, it is quite close to our pond. We hoped the little guy went to check out the creek. I went to visit my mother in the nursing home and when I came back, Bruce told me he thought he had solved the puzzle of Jeremiah’s whereabouts. While working around the pond area, Bruce spotted a water snake! In fact, he chased the bugger and killed it. We never saw Jeremiah again. I cried
The summer moved along, our fish grew and our lilies bloomed. We have four different colored lilies. One day they were all in bloom at once. What a beautiful sight! Each month the lilies and plants needed fertilized. I encouraged Bruce to do this job. He did it without fussing…until one Sunday morning, he decided it might be MY turn to get in the pond and place the fertilizer tabs. Knowing I had been lucky that he had been doing it, I decided I should do it. He had a smirk on his face while I was getting ready. I knew he was up to something but was not yet quite sure just what it was. So, I took off my shoes and socks (first mistake) and sat down on the stones at the edge of the pond. He was smirking. I tried to stand up in the pond, trying to keep my balance with one arm on the edge and both feet in the water. It was slick. Now I knew why he was smirking. I was caught. I could not move. If I did move, I was going to fall into the water. I cannot swim. He knew this. He encouraged me to “just stand up”. Yeah, right! By this time, I was mad. I would show him! So, I “just stood up”….and promptly fell into the slick, slimy water. EEEWWW!!!! He grabbed my hand to keep me from going under completely. He was trying really hard not to laugh. I was mad and I was crying. Then he went up to the deck telling me he was going to get something from the house to “help me get out”. This is what he came out with!! He was laughing like crazy, the tears were pouring down my cheeks, and he was taking pictures! I told him to be sure and get the one of me crying. He did. Then, I got to laughing along with the crying and eventually I was able to get out of the pond. I haven't been back into the pond since! Bruce does the fertilizing.
This site was last updated 05/09/13