Pond, RIP

One of my bright garden-related plans was to build a pond. Not a fish pond – I’m not crazy about fish (I prefer either watching them flit around coral reefs 18 m underwater, or eating them in artfully arranged slices rolled into sushi). A water garden – a pond with a few grasses and lilies. That sounded nice. I frittered away at least a day and a half finding out about how to dig a pond, how to work out the dimensions, how to calculate the amount of liner you need.
Then a friend sent me a link to a company that constructs natural wetland-filtered pools. Wetland-filtered ponds and pools (aka natural swimming pools) are to constructed concrete ponds and pools what oregon pine floors are to laminate. What homemade banana loaves are to Sasko Sam sliced white. They’re organic and ergonomic and natural-forest-spring zen. They sounded nice.
So I spent another few days trying to figure out how to do one of those. I found beautiful hand-drawn step-by-step plans on an obscure website, then lost them again to the vortices of the internet (and the fickleness of Google). So I improvised, and used the other information I still had. I learned that a pond must have several levels so that there are steps where the tadpoles can hide in shallow water, amongs reeds and stones. That you shouldn’t necklace the perimeter with rocks, but let soft grasses grow as banks for the froggies. I chose a good position; I measured out the perimeter, and worked out where each step should go. My exceptionally good-natured Malawian gardener spend a few hours digging the hole. We used the displaced soil to build up the base of a nearby tree whose roots were starting to look exposed. I calculated the area of the liner, and tracked down a guy that supplies it. It was an altogether lovely project. I started getting to know the pretty grasses and lilies at the nursery.
Then I stood in my garden one afternoon. I was chatting to my dad about my pond plans. He looked horrified. Children can drown in 2 centimetres of water, you know. We were watching Kolya jumping into and out of the freshly dug hole. When he stood in the deepest part, ground level was at about his shoulder height. He’s an agile, strong, co-ordinated kid; I couldn’t see him drowning there. But I had this feeling: this is a stupid thing to do. I checked in with some friends – what would they do? Most said nah, forget the pond. Make a sandpit.
A sandpit? A sandpit? Where my lovely water lilies and tadpoles were going to be? A mess of dirty river sand and plastic spades? I couldn’t face it.
For a month, the hole just stood there while I pretended I was still making a pond. Then eventually I decided: a pond of flowers. That’s what I would do. I would just fill it in with very rich soil and compost and fill it with flowers. So that’s what I did. 12 bags of soil and 4 bags of compost later, and it was still a few inches below ground level, but nothing that wouldn’t level off with time. I went to the nursery and chose lots of delicate things with blue and purple flowers, and some tender grassy things to play on the pond theme. Lovely. Kolya and I got into a planting frenzy, and planted them all up.
So now I have this slightly sunken oval bed of blue flowers. It looks distinctly like a grave. I figure it’s where I buried the pond, and happily, didn’t have to bury anything else.


About Lisa

I live in South Africa with my husband and two small children, doing things, thinking about things and sometimes writing about them.
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One Response to Pond, RIP

  1. Adam says:

    Wise choice. I remember family friends filling in their swimming pool and only emptying it when their kids reached the safer ages. It worked well as a lawn.

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