Beginning Fall Clean-Up of the Pond: Who’s Living In The Water Hyacinth Roots?

water hyacinthThe mist is lifting from the mountain and the sun looks like it might break through. I’ve been scooping leaves out of the pond. Not too many have fallen yet, but as the pond is in woodlands the whole surface will soon be covered.

I like to leave a lot of the pond clean-up until all the leaves have fallen but some things need to be done now, such as taking the water hyacinth out of the pond.

The roots are great for helping keep the water clean but if the plants die and sink, they’ll add to the sludge on the bottom.

When I buy them in spring, I tie them into circles of tubing to prevent them sinking in the fall, but this summer has been exceptional for water hyacinths and the five original plants more than trebled with new offspring breaking away from the tubing and floating off in the pond.

When I pull out a batch of hyacinths, tiny frogs leap off, and a little yellow face peeks out of the dense black roots – a salamander. Another salamander, this one tiny, struggles through the roots to see what’s going on. Spidery beings, wormy beings, fishy beings, all sorts of swimming, creeping insects appear. Such strange shapes. A huge tadpole falls out (must be a bullfrog tadpole). I’m amazed by how gelatinous it looks. I would have expected something more solid.

I feel terrible at disturbing these creatures. I quickly replace the hyacinths in the water, scoop up the tadpole and watch it wriggle away into the pond’s muddy bottom.

What to do? I don’t want to destroy their habitat, but the pond is old and will fill up with sludge if I let leaves and hyacinths decompose in it.frog in water hyacinth

Finally I decide to rest the tip of the mass of plants on the bank and leave the rest in the water. Tomorrow I’ll pull it a little higher up on the bank. Let’s hope that will encourage the residents of the water hyacinth roots to relocate.


Watery Labor Day Weekend!

frog fountain with tiny frog friend (on the rock at the base)

frog fountain with tiny frog friend (on the rock at the base)

Labor Day weekend – and the rain came down. Usually I’m happy to see the rain at this time of the year because the water level in the stream and pond is so low but that’s not a problem this year, given all the rain we’ve had through the summer. In fact there were floods not so far away.

self-composting toilets at Frelighsburg Festiv'ArtDiscovered an interesting water alternative at Festiv’Art in Frelighsburg where the public toilets were the environmentally friendly kind where one uses sawdust instead of water. The waste is then composted with straw, leaves and so on. Important to use a ratio of 1:1 waste to other natural  materials, I was told, to avoid unpleasant smells. A more productive (ahem!) idea than the suggestion in a letter in the Globe and Mail that people should conserve water by stopping to drink it!

Of Rain And Change and Hummingbirds and Witches

turkeys perched in tree in the rainAs the rain comes down, a flock of seven or eight wild turkeys fly up into the trees alongside the stream for shelter. I hope that’s a good idea – a tree beside the pond has just fallen. Not right down. The trunk broke off and hit the ground but the upper branches caught in the trees beside it. There was no warning, and not even much wind, just a loud crack and down it fell. Those turkeys are huge, I hope the trees can take their weight. What a noise they make as they Continue reading

Turtles and Territory

turtle in the earth pond


I saw the turtle again yesterday evening, floating serenely on the water’s surface. I think it’s a Painted Turtle because of the red markings.

I’ve read it’s a destructive creature. It’s certainly made a mess of the bulrushes at the water line. I’d thought it was the deer although they’ve never gone for the bulrushes before – but no, it’s the turtle. I hope it doesn’t go for the day lilies which are now coming out. The tubing has popped out of the pump for the frog fountain – that’s never happened before. Did the turtle think the tubing was a juicy root? Continue reading

Canada Day Weekend Beside the Pond


Canadian Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

The deer have eaten the tops off all the rudbeckia. The strong smelling soap I left out in plastic bottles obviously didn’t deter them.

The end of the inlet pipe in the stream needs digging out again as it is covered with gravel and rocks brought downstream by the heavy rains. A small mouse scuttles away as I lift the cover off the pump plug.

beside the pond - creeping buttercup

creeping buttercup

As I sit by the pond I hear our new neighbours finishing work on paving over a good part of their garden.

Odd to want a place in the woods then cut down the trees and cover the earth with slabs of concrete. Although I must admit we also have a small patio of paving slabs – it was already here when we moved in almost twenty-five years ago. Now they’re moss-covered, with violets, Deptford pinks and forget-me-nots and roses growing in the spaces between them. According to a 2002 National Geographic article, 83 per cent of the earth shows human “footprint”.  I

pond inhabitant - American Toad

American Toad

wonder what additional percentage of the earth has since then disappeared under paving stones, asphalt, parking lots, malls, condos.

There used to be a beautiful bountiful garden in a parking lot on rue Bishop in downtown Montreal. The birds flocked to the birdbath, flowers and greenery, and the sunflowers grew to enormous heights – sometimes they grew so tall that even the revelers from the clubs in the area held back from cutting the flower heads off. The next-door lot was scrub grass, broken glass and needles – until the chicory came out, when it became a carpet of blue. Now a large

condo building is going up on the street and the garden and scrub grass have disappeared. With the tall layers of concrete and glass, the street has become dark and closed-in.

on the pond-blue fronted dancer dragonfly

Blue Fronted Dancer Dragonfly

Behind me, water gurgles in the stream, in front of me it bubbles from the fountain. Frog twangings from all around. Huge tadpoles with hind-legs sprouting rest on the floating roots of the water hyacinth. Dragonflies chase each other, mating.

on the pond - common whitetail dragonfly

Common Whitetail Dragonfly

As the sun dips behind the trees and the shadows spread, the water in the pond darkens, shining green and black. The mosquitoes come out.IMG_2446

Oh my gosh, there’s a turtle looking at me from the middle of the pond – the first time that I’ve seen one here.