January 23: Only one more pile of clay to go….Thank you, Allan, for moving two heavy wheelbarrows full when I was tired. By the way, the reason behind on the pond dredging was cute but deadly raccoons. A few years back some rough development on the neighbouring street changed the drainage pattern and caused a small landslide into my pond. The resulting shallowness tempted raccoons to wade into the pond and eat some lovely, large fish, including “The Great White”, my particular and enormous favourite. I also suspect that they ate some of our frogs. (Raccoons also tore holes in our shake roof, inspiring an expensive green metal replacement.)
With only four large fish left, I knew the pond had to be made deeper, so for two years in a row have spent labour day weekend dredging by hoe. The pond then becomes so murky with liquefied clay that I wonder that the fish can breathe…but when it settles, they are safer. A swimming raccoon is apparently not as effective at fishing. I was sorely tempted to haul some more hoe-fuls out yesterday, but then the new clay muck would have to sit and dry, and I would never be done….I can see now that the pond is clear how much deeper the bottom is, and have thrown a couple of heavy old timber bamboo pieces in the bottom for the fish to hide in. I count 4 large fish…one white and three orange…and one small brown fish in the clear winter water.
The winter blooming witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis ‘Arnold Promise’) is just starting to unfurl its spidery blossoms, smelling of apricot, and the Edgeworthia papyrifera has fat buds. I have one of the red winter witch hazels also, ‘Jelena’ or ‘Diane’, but made the mistake of planting it in a corner of the garden that I rarely visit. It’s better to plant winter flowers in a spot that is frequently passed, I think, because bad weather does not inspire a trip to the far reaches
January 24: I put on my muddy clothes to make myself go out and do that last clay pile! Maybe I “just want to do the pretty things.” An acquaintance once asked if I could find her some gardening work, and I told her I could have her weed a certain driveway…”But I just want to do the pretty things!” she said. I think she imagined that a garden career involved wafting about deadheading, wearing a floppy straw hat and flowered gloves. But there are days that I would like to just do pretty things…not much of that at this time of year. What I look forward to, after the clay is moved, is an attack on the rampant creeping buttercup throughout the garden beds.
Later, after dark: I did it! Oh, the soreness. An idle midwinter did not increase my stamina! All the clay has been shifted out of the garden. Thanks to Allan for moving that last wheelbarrow! I have one more daunting task: the removal of two enormous Phormiums. While they appear to be the only interesting thing in a photo of my midwinter garden, they are blocking the entry to a path which I love…a path of stepping stones right through a seasonal stream that runs underneath rose arbours. The path is lost to me now, and removing the Phormiums will reveal it. Perhaps I can find some smaller spiky accent to go in their places.
January 25: See before and after photos above for the results of moving clay from the back of the pond…Still a rather bare slate…To the right is the corner of our huge rock, and the spring which feeds the pond. I might have found another spring to seep out of the back left side of the hill!
Curses! A cold steady drizzle postpones my Phormium moving project.
[Note from 2012: Do I EVER plant Phormiums now? Never, never! This journal has been a continuing story of getting rid of them!]
Read Full Post »