(Water) Garden of Eden

(Water) Garden of Eden

 

By Victoria Register-Freeman
Resident Community News

Maybe I’ve spent too much time in the Cummer gardens, but for over a decade, I have longed for a small pond.
I have never translated this longing into action for two reasons. First, pond acquisition felt aquatically greedy. After all, I have the St. Johns River 300 feet from my back door. Second, the project seemed an unnecessary expense. I live in a 100-year-old house, an architectural phenomenon that inhales discretionary money. There is almost always a sheet rock hemorrhage, a plumbing stoppage or a termite alert. No pond dollars ever seem to appear in the budget. Once I inquired about a small pond at a local garden store and the proprietor told me that labor and a liner would be $260. And that did not include the pump, the plants or any fish.
Now, for a total outlay of $26, I have the garden pond of my dreams. It is stocked with petite glittering goldfish and two tiny pots of something called hair fern.
How did this happen? It began at a Historic District garage sale. Riding home from a friend’s house I saw on the lawn, by the Gator hats and the stuffed Elmos, a jet black pond liner filled with 8 pumps and miles of plastic tubing. The total cost was $10. The garage sale proprietor guaranteed nothing.” It might leak,” he said unreassuringly.
Once I got my bargain home, enthusiasm flagged. It occurred to me that if I had a pond, I would obviously have to create a large hole. With the ambient temperature in the 90’s, the idea of digging a hole was not appealing. In addition, the 8 pumps sat like fat Japanese beetles in the pond liner. I had no idea which ones, if any, worked.
Now fast-forward 48 hours from my initial purchase. Standing in my kitchen, a friend was telling me about buying a new house and about her significant other telling her she should put in a pond. After all, he had a pond. The idea light blub blinked on. The man she was speaking of was sitting on my porch. As Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung might say, “Amazing synchronicity.”
When I approached the pond veteran with my best damsel in distress mannerism, he agreed to be of knightly service. In a matter of moments, he figured out which of the eight pumps worked (only one) and he instructed me on how to ring my pond with stones in QuikCrete to give it the look of a natural ecosystem. Then he and my friend waved
goodbye.
So now I had a pump that worked, but there was still the non-existent hole and the 90-degree weather. Like breathing silk a Canadian friend once called the weather when she spent her first summer in Florida. That evening a test dig revealed a cosmic boon. The dirt in the middle of the herb garden—the preferred pond site — was pure beach sand. No real surprise since the entire yard is river bottom sand dredged from the channel deepening in the 1930s.
Two hours later the pond was in place. An old copper statue was lowered into it and the pump was turned on. It worked for two minutes. Desperation led me to the use of an older pump and, because of my husband’s suggestion, reuse of the statue as a fountain.
Of course, I did not level the bottom of the pond hole, so the pond liner tilts. One good rainfall will wash the sparkling gold fish on to dry land. Who knows, maybe that will encourage them to recapitulate evolution— on a much reduced scale of course.

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