Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ice on Water Garden

The cold weather brought the season’s first freeze to the water garden. We’ve had a skin of ice some nights, but now we have a thick layer that has stayed for two days. I leave the dead top growth of the emergent plants to give some interest to the area during the winter. The area to the right has woodland flowers that bloom in the spring and then the area transforms into dry prairie with a mass of Orange Coneflowers in the fall. I remove the dead coneflower stalks so the spring flowers will get enough sunlight.

The windy weather created a rough surface to the ice. The ice is quite clear, but the angle of the light makes it look as though you are gazing into a bottomless pool. I was once with a group of people standing next to a frozen pond that had a similar skiff of snow on its surface. The person next to me remarked that you could tell the ice was really cold because of the snow on top. I replied that just knowing it was ice would suggest an intense degree of coldness. They looked at me for a few seconds and then walked away, making sure to stay clear of me the rest of the day.

Since the stones have not been permanently placed around the water garden, there are places where the black liner is visible. The liner absorbs the sun’s energy and melts the ice to form tiny pools. Birds like to come in and drink from these areas.

This is the point at which water enters the garden. The irregular surface of the ice makes it appear as though the water is moving.

The summer home of the goldfish is close to the house and the last of the open water to freeze each year. When visitors see the goldfish in this pool, they eagerly scan the large pool for fish. Most are disappointed when I tell them that no fish exist there and become puzzled when I explain that I much prefer to see the big pool filled with tadpoles, salamanders, snakes and insects.

The goldfish made it inside in plenty of time to avoid the ice. That’s Albert on the left and Pongo on the right. Why do I keep obviously exotic fish such as these fancy goldfish? They’re my daughter’s pets.

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