Older than time? Showing off for the 1st Annual Pond Tour

curving flagstonePointing your car toward Kitchener East, you find yourself in an old and well established neighbourhood.  Huge trees. Lots of cul de sacs. Vine covered homes.  Quiet streets, tucked away just past Ottawa and River Road, down Old Chicopee Drive, all the way to the end.

If there’s one common thread amongst pond owners it has to be the love of moving water.  And as I’m quickly learning, relatively speaking the deeper that love, the bigger the water feature(s).

Tom and Marthese Doerner had owned a cottage on Georgian Bay.  They eventually learned that as a busy young family, their second home was becoming too much of a chore.  So they purchased a touring boat instead.  The boat provided wonderful getaways until their teenaged children didn’t want to leave town on the weekends anymore.  Then what?

forest view smallerTheir love of water returned full circle, to their homestead where they’ve lived for 23 years now.

Shaded by a large urban forest, half of the backyard grass refused to grow. Plus, as Tom says, what’s the point of building a swimming pool in the shade?

He thought long about a pond, which he discussed with Marthese, who readily admits she simply had no idea of what he was planning.

“I envisioned a small pond, you know, a small pond with a trickling waterfall.  Maybe a stream. A few fish.”   She laughs.  “What I thought didn’t even come close to what Tom had in mind.”

excellent rocks in pondTom’s concept was anything but simple.  He wanted a concrete pond (about a third of the massive backyard) with numerous waterfalls and meandering streams flowing into it.

With detailed blueprints he drew up himself, Tom also borrowed the expertise of his daughter’s father-in-law, a surveyor.  Laser beams determing depth, massive drops of earth, backhoes and other large equipment (they had to build up instead of down), and a full scale build was underway.

The concrete pond didn’t work out, which is a whole other story.  Suffice to say, once he’d determined how much pond liner he would need, it took 6 men to drag and roll out the heft of it.

curving flagstoneBy this time, Marthese decided it was ‘his’ project.

He carried on and built a 15-thousand gallon pond.  Impressive?  Oh yeah.  The thing is, it looks like it’s been there forever, blending into the surrounding forest.  And it’s only fours years old.

upper pondJust the waterfalls dropping into the upper ponds and stream are enough to linger by.  And, it must be said, what the average homeowner would find more than sufficient.

The water from the upper ponds and the stream into the main pond is crystal clear.  Not by accident.  Tom had a lot to learn, especially since he stocked his pond with large beautiful koi and goldfish.  Oh and a turtle too!  All who hibernate over the winter.

“This hobby is all about water quality management.  It’s the first and most important thing you have to learn.”  Indeed.  Tom has even built a wood cabin to house his equally impressive water filtration system.  (At first I thought it was a cottage for sleepovers and wanted to sign up!)

boardwalkThe pond is flanked by a boardwalk on the house side, flagstone on the two vertical sides,  anchored at the far end by a small boardwalk at the cabin.  Gorgeous.  Look closer, and you’ll see underwater platforms for plants, plus an ingenious fenced off area for waterlilies and water hyacinths.


pond divider close up“No one told me that koi are insatiable herbivores who would devour all of my pond plants!  And if they weren’t eating them, they were uprooting the pots on the bottom.  And if the fish didn’t knock the pots over, then Mother Nature would blow the large plants over!”

At the lower main entrance to the pond are two large stunning (sunning) rocks, an idea of Marthese’s, to naturalize the look.  These study rocks have also become a perfect landing area for for feeding the fish, a sunning area for the turtle, plus providing an overhang the fish cavort beneath.  As though those rocks had always been there.

cannas & cabinMature canna lilies and elephant ears showing off in the pond are overwintered indoors; there’s just enough sun at that end to ensure fabulous blooms.  Marthese even found a wonderful perennial shady groundcover (lamium) that scrambles over and around the rocks.

One of Tom’s first questions was “Why hasn’t anyone written a book about how to build a pond?”  I’m thinking maybe he could write it.


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