What to Buy a Koi for Christmas?

It’s December and even in the naturalistic, outdoor-loving mindset of pond enthusiasts around the country, that means lights, decorations, excitement, and to the kid still lingering in all of us, it means presents. So my question this month is, “What are you going to buy your koi for Christmas?” I mean, you don’t exclude your dog, your cat, or your hamster (how do you think PetSmart survives?) from the Christmas giving celebration, do you? I know we don’t exclude ours. So why would any red-blooded, animal-loving, pond enthusiast exclude their koi? Here are a few ideas for you.

How About a Pond Heater?
How about a brand new pond warmer/heater to complement the surface agitator that you have bubbling away in your pond? I mean it’s not quite the same as a new sweater, but it will help keep a bigger hole in the ice throughout the winter, which translates into A Few Happy Koimore oxygen for your hibernating fin flickers parked at the bottom of the pond for the duration of the winter.

Red and Green Underwater Lights
Or how about changing the standard white, underwater light bulbs to red and green bulbs? That would be festive, you must admit. How about decorating the foliage surrounding the pond with colorful Christmas lights so that all your koi feel like they’re part of the Christmas spirit? You could even buy them some new fish food so long as you promise to avoid feeding them in the spring until the temperature has warmed up (at least 55 degrees).

A Bigger Pond
I have some friends who are taking the Christmas koi thing to a whole new level by planning a new and bigger home for their fish in the spring. They speculate that their fish have outgrown their current quarters, and would appreciate a little more room. So they’re laying the groundwork out on paper this winter, planning to double their standard 11’x16’ pond, and adding a brand new fish cave, which will allow their colorful friends to avoid harms way, in case a great blue heron comes a trolling or rocky the raccoon comes a swipin’.

Longer Stream, Another Waterfall
Yes, I’m talking about building an entirely new pond, with a longer stream. They’re considering an additional waterfall as well – that would make two falls and twice the fun and relaxation … right? And for the fish, it would mean lots more room to dart around, more plants to munch on, more oxygen to breathe … just a little more of everything for your favorite koi.
And isn’t more of everything what it’s really all about any more? And if not, maybe you’d prefer to appreciate all the things that Mother Nature does with your pond this winter from inside the house, by the cozy fire. In the end, that could be construed as a little more relaxation, a little more fun, a little more Christmas, right this very moment. Until next month all I can say is … Merry Christmas, and to all a good night.

Six ponds for the price of One!

I recently met a guy from Canada who tells wonderful pond stories. His name is Bill Vernon and he was talking about what he
called the six ponds in one.
Now I’ve been in and around the water gardening business for a while now, and I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. So I asked him to explain.


Bill Explains the first Four

A Nice WaterfallHe basically said that every pond he’d ever seen has had six distinct personalities, including a spring personality, a summer personality, a fall personality, and a winter personality.

“You see the pond is a living and breathing entity,” Bill said, “and it changes right along with the weather and the seasons. Just go ahead and tell me that the spring pond is the same as the summer pond, and the fall pond is the same as the winter pond” Bill challenged. “They’re all different and unique in and of themselves.” Ok, I thought to myself, now I understand four of the six ponds he was talking about, and I couldn’t help but agree with him that all four were unique and different from all the others. But that left two more ponds unexplained, and so
I asked Bill to fill in these other two blanks so I could fully understand where he was coming from.

Bill Explains Two More

Without hesitation Bill continued, “Well, there is also the day time pond and the night time pond, right?”A Cold Winters Night I shook my head in agreement as he continued to explain the magic of the daytime pond, with the sun glistening off the water’s surface, the colorful Koi darting around below, all surrounded by lush green and colorful plants. The daytime pond certainly has magical qualities to it. Then Bill contrasted the daytime pond with the romance of the nighttime pond, underwater lights turning the entire aquatic ecosystem into a transparent liquid world that’s for all practical purposes, invisible during the day. “Do you know anyone who can resist the seduction of the night time pond?” Bill asked. I had to shake my head in agreement once again. I knew nobody who was less than spellbound by a pond at night.


Then I Discovered Bill’s Fuzzy Math

But then I started to question Bill’s math. To use an overused political phrase, I thought it was a little fuzzy. I mean if there were four different pond personalities that corresponded with each new season, that’s four, right? And if each one of these have a night time and a day time edition, that’s two times four or eight different ponds, am I right on this Bill. He looked like a deer who’d just been caught in the headlights as he scratched his head in thought and finally said “hmmmmm. I never thought of it like that before. I’d say that you’re right. I’m changing my story to eight ponds in one from now on. That way you’re getting
more for your money…right?” Right I said. Is it any wonder why Bill Vernon sells lots of ponds?

To Prune or not to Prune

This is a great time of year to prune your trees and shrubs. The top three pruning tips for winter are:

  1. When the leaves are off the trees you have better access to the problem areas.
  2. Less stress for trees and shrubs when the plant is not actively growing.
  3. It is too early to start uncovering and clean up your perennials.

When the leaves are off the trees you have better access to the problem areas. Trees that drop their leaves are deciduous trees. Deciduous trees are easiest to prune in the fall or winter because you can really see what you need to get to. Things to look for on your deciduous trees are crossing branches, inverted crotches and dead wood. Crossing branches can be characterized as branches that are rubbing on other branches. Choose the branch that is the smallest and prune it all the way back to the next junction. Don’t just arbitrarily cut back a limb. If you must remove more than half of the branches material take it all the way back to the axial branch or main stem. Inverted crotches are the limbs that are angling toward the ground coming off the main branch. These limbs will be most likely to break off in high winds or ice storms. branch collar Removal of these limbs is best to be done all the way back to the main branch just below the branch collar. Dead wood can be removed at any time of the year and may actually be better spotted during the growing season. When the plant is dormant and you suspect that the limb is dead you can test it by trying to bend the limb toward the end. If the limb snaps easily it is dead if it flexes it is still alive.

Pruning during dormancy will be less stressful to the trees and shrubs. Conifers or ‘evergreens” can be pruned anytime of the year but will ‘weep” less in the winter as the sap is not flowing readily at this time. Trees and shrubs that flower in the early spring such as Redbuds, Dogwoods, and Magnolias should be pruned after they flower they flower but before they fully leaf out. Summer flowering trees and shrubs will set on their flower buds on new growth so dormant pruning will not alter flower production.

When we get those nice winter days that are unseasonably warm we all get the itch to work in the landscape. Warning even though it is nice today it could be freezing tomorrow! So you have to be careful, we recommend that you wait until after March 1st or closer to the middle of the month to start pruning back dead material of perennials. The old plant material of your perennials tends to help protect the plants along with the mulch. Instead of working on the perennials, get out the pruning equipment and shape up you trees and shrubs.

One last thing, if you are behind on your pruning only remove less than one-quarter of the plants crown. Certain shrubs will benefit from cutting way back, as a rule of thumb prune your trees a small amount each season and reap long-term benefits of healthier plants. Now, satisfy that cabin fever and get out and trim your trees and shrubs.

Hello world!

Pondless Water Feature

I will be posting articles regarding landscape design and installation as well as information regarding the hobby of gardening. This hobby can include anything from water gardens to vegetable gardens, retaining walls to walls of water, paver patios to wooden gazebos. The possibilities are endless when it comes to your outdoor creation.

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