Home & Garden

Finding peace among ponds: Koi and Pond Club will show you how

Wouldn't you love to come home and relax to the sight and sound of trickling water?

To rest your eyes on the lush beauty of a water garden?

Everyone and anyone can.

"Even if you can't put a big pond in your backyard -- or you don't want to -- you can put a pot, a half barrel or even a smaller container in your yard or on the patio," said Carmen Stafford of Kennewick.

Stafford is a longtime member of the Mid-Columbia Koi & Pond Club and the group's newsletter editor. In their May issue, she wrote: "Imagine, after a hard day of work you come home, change your clothes, collect your favorite beverage and head out to the spot in the yard (or deck/patio) where your favorite chair is. Next to the chair is a container sprouting plants with lush leaves and vibrant flowers ... and the sound of trickling water."

"Now you can relax," Stafford wrote.

To make it possible for everyone to create an idyllic spot for themselves the Mid-Columbia Koi & Pond Club is offering a free class on container water gardens July 20. The hands-on class will run from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Mid-Columbia Library, 1620 S. Union St., Kennewick.

Jan Jordan of Richland, another longtime member of the club, and the group's expert on water plants, will demonstrate how to build a water garden in a container. She'll have some plants for sale and also will cover how to choose and care for your mini oasis.

Jordan doesn't dislike fish -- there are koi and goldfish in the various ponds and containers scattered throughout her yard -- but she said plants, especially pond plants, are her real interest.

"I've had to educate myself about water gardens. Nurseries here carry some of the more common plants, but not the wide variety that's actually available," she said.

And a lot of her education has come by trial and error. Like always lining the baskets used to contain pond plants with landscape cloth -- used for weed control in the garden -- before adding the dirt.

The first one she planted she simply put the dirt in the basket, added the plant and placed rocks on top to keep the fish from digging in the dirt. Then she sank the container into the pond and stood and watched as all the dirt washed out of the basket.

What she learned is "the landscape cloth acts like a net, keeping all the dirt inside the basket," Jordan said.

That bit of pond plant wisdom, and more, are what Jordan will be sharing on July 20. But if you can't attend the class -- or simply can't wait to create your water garden -- here are some tips from Jordan:

-- To keep mosquitoes from breeding in water gardens either add a larvicide (Mosquito Dunks, available in garden supply stores, is one type) or add a few small goldfish. Tadpoles too -- if you're lucky to find some -- will eat the mosquito larvae and later become bug-eating frogs in your garden.

-- Don't place pond plants directly into soil in the bottom of a container or pond. Instead plant them in landscape lined-rock topped baskets and sink them into the water.

Sooner or later you'll have to clean the container and the baskets make removing the plants easy. Plus, the baskets help contain aggressive plants and prevent them from taking over.

-- The baskets are sold at water garden supply stores and online. Or use Jordan's tip, buy plastic baskets -- the kind used to store everything from CDs to socks -- at discount stores.

-- When necessary to fertilize, to save money, avoid buying any product with the word pond on it. Instead buy fertilizer spikes at a garden store. Look at the label, find the three numbers separated by dashes and choose the product with the highest middle number.

That means the fertilizer is high in phosphorus which will promote blooms, Jordan said.

-- For more information on the Mid-Columbia Koi & Pond Club or the water garden class call the club's president, Ron Boedeker, 375-6108. Or send an e-mail to ron.koi@charter.net.

Special events

The Mid-Columbia Koi and Pond Club will hold a potluck meeting at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the home of Arlen and Mary Gadeken, 4821 W. 24th Place, Kennewick.

The Gadekens will provide grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. Bring salads, desserts, chips, beans, or other picnic fare to share.

For more information or directions, call 735-6822.

-- The Mid-Columbia Koi & Pond Club is planning a self-guided tour of area ponds Sept. 6.

Watch for details on the Herald's Web-based calendar, www.calendar.tricityherald.com.

Or sign up for Tid-Bits, a weekly e-mail service from the club, put out by Jan Jordan. To sign up call her at 627-3762 or send an e-mail to MCK&PC@jjsponds.us.

* Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com.