Surprise Sanctuary

Little did we know, when I took a shovel to my garden and dug a three foot deep hole, of the effect this pond that I had in my head would have on our micro-ecosystem. I wanted a pond that suited my lazy character – no maintenance. I dug it deep enough for the fish to winter, and pumped my water up through a gravel bed in which I planted swamp plants, mostly native to Ontario, but with the odd tropical for variety. Over the years, it developed it’s own ecosystem. The fish feed the plants and bacteria, who in turn clean the water for the fish. It’s totally amazing to watch nature at work.

The effect on the bigger community has also been amazing. First, the birds come. Robins and sparrows, finches and doves; all come to drink, and bath, and cool off on a hot summer’s day. Pictures will (hopefully) be in another post. From somewhere a frog came; then another.  The next year there were three, but they’ve scarpered this summer. Chippies and squirrels come to drink, too and wasps come for water.

And then the flowers. We bought a lily; a lotus. It becomes more prolific each year. The large buds come up from the bottom,closed tight against the water, straining toward the light like slow motion arrows. Then, one day, you come out and you see the most perfect blossom,delicate, beautiful, floating serenely on the surface.

This year we have a veritable wildness happening; more variety blooming together than ever before. Little yellow starflowers push their way up between the lily leaves. Water hyacinths beyond all expectation.

When we first saw a water hyacinth blossom, it was at the pond store – we had no idea they flowered. We bought a couple, and while they covered the pond, (they’re quite invasive, banned in warm climates like Florida) there was not a blossom to be seen. I think we had one flower the next year, but they are like the rabbit – hare today, gone tomorrow. This year, there are four together, with one more promising for the morning. I don’t know why they flower: you don’t know which one will produce that delicate blossom until it’s there. It seems to shoot the stem and flowers up in a single day, then they bloom in the sun, and they’re gone. So beautiful, and so brief.


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