Garden Photo of the Day

Barbara’s brand new pond in Connecticut

Today's post is from Barbara Curtiss in Kent, Connecticut, just up the road from where I live! It's a special treat–another video! (We've visited Barbara's beautiful garden twice before–it's perfectly complemented by her husband's wonderful sculptures–refresh your memory HERE and HERE.) Today Barbara says, "We have wanted to do something about the boggy spot in our yard and finally took the big step last summer. Pictured here is the whole process, from first dig to finished pond. It isn't large, but it is such a wonderful addition to the yard. It took an engineer and a contractor to finesse our vision. All the initial pipe work was unexpected but necessary to keep the salty, sandy run-off from the road above from washing into the water, so the idea is that the piping directs this run-off under the lawn and out into a ditch below the pond.  Not a single tree was harmed in this endeavor, if you look closely you'll see that several good size trees were picked up and moved nearby. It was all finished in the fall so we can't wait to see how it all settles in once the ice and snow is gone, and the planting can begin. The site was too mucky to have any planting success, but hopefully now the drainage will allow for wonderful waterside plants." What an awesome project, Barbara! How smart to divert the road salt, even though it looked like a massive project. The pond is already gorgeous–I can't wait to see it after you've worked some gardening magic! Please keep us posted along the way.


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  1. Nurserynotnordstroms 02/25/2015

    Wow Barbara,that was an undertaking,it turned out to be so lovely,and your frogs came back. I want frogs?we had them as kids but no frogs of anykind here now,we have newts,but no frogs. I can't wait to see this when its planted up you are going to have so much fun with that part.You will be making a lot of creatures very happy when it's completed. Will you plant cattails at the edges?hummingbirds love to gather the fluff from them for nesting material,so you would be helping one of my favorite birds with there "home sweet home" The drain pipes were gigantic,will the drainage just be soaked up at the end where all of the large boulders were stacked? Will you send in more photos as you go along I can't wait to see your progress. You have a beautiful piece of property and how wonderful to see your vision become a reality.

    1. greengenes 02/26/2015

      Hi Glenda...Quite nice huh! I know what you mean about the frogs. We used to have them here and it was so loud at night we could hardly talk outside but now we don't hear any but maybe once in a while a little tree frog or? Guess who is coming over this morning. ...The conservation rain garden people! We shall see what they recommend. As I was looking more on line about rain gardens it looks as though we were headed in the right direction to make one. It should be very interesting! Thanks for encouraging me to look into it further!

      1. Nurserynotnordstroms 02/26/2015

        That's so great Jeanne, you are going to find it very interesting and I can't wait to hear what you are told I think it will be the perfect solution to your troubled wet area.

  2. perenniallycrazy 02/26/2015

    Fabulous project! Can't wait to see the next step...

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 02/26/2015

    We all know know the expression "Love can move mountains" and now, with that lyrical soundtrack lingering in my mind, I am going to coin the phrase "Music can create ponds".
    Really, Barbara, your finished project is so beautifully nestled in its place and already looks like it was always meant to be there. I'm sure it is already giving you much pleasure and it is only the beginning. Congratulations and enjoy!

  4. Tea_garden_lover 02/26/2015

    Most appropriate music for your video! All kinds of wildlife will take advantage of your efforts. It appears to be a natural pond that takes great advantage of the specific site.

  5. wGardens 02/26/2015

    What a project! Great job, it looks fab! You must be SO anxious to get planting asap this spring. I am sure we'll all look forward to seeing the planting phase! And how things look as it evolves. Great that you could re-site some trees; hope they make the transition through the winter perfectly. Thanks for sharing... the process was quite interesting!

  6. greengenes 02/26/2015

    What a wonderful project! A nice addition to your beautiful place. It was great seeing the project as it went. Your woods look all deciduous. They are so different than over on this side of the country. We have mostly evergreens and a lot of underbrush. It sure will be a lot of fun deciding what to plant and where! Please keep us posted! Oh and I did watch the Airedale videos. So cute they are! We used to have a couple of the standard size ones. They were a lot of fun. Thanks

  7. Chefin1950 02/26/2015

    Silly me – I thought all you had to do was dig a hole in the ground ;o)

    1. MichelleGervais 02/26/2015

      Me, too!

      1. sheila_schultz 02/26/2015

        Me, three

  8. VikkiVA 02/26/2015

    Like Marsha, I thought all you needed for a pond was a good sized hole. I guess in some instances that is true, however, not on the Curtiss place! Your pond looks like it has always existed. I admire how you had the trees moved - - bravo! Your winter picture looks like a Currier and Ives photo. Anxious to see pictures of the summer pond. Vikki in VA

  9. terieLR 02/26/2015

    Before clicking on this video I scooted next to my husband on the sofa and we watched with smiles on our faces as we recollected the process of putting our own pond in. Your future just opened up endless possibilities for landscape, gardening, entertaining, wildlife and MORE sculptures by Denis! I can not wait to see what forms of creativity follow this extraordinary setting. It's stunning Barbara and Denis.

  10. User avater
    HelloFromMD 02/26/2015

    Hi Barbara, Just finished the video. I didn't see a liner so is there a clay bottom? Or will the natural soil keep the water from draining away? My family's farm have several large ponds that they use to irrigate the orchards.These are fed by a stream. Still the water level rises and falls with the amount of rainfall. Will you have to add water to your pond? Will you use barley to deal with algae? Looks like your screened in porch is in the perfect location to enjoy the pond and the frog's evening serenade.

  11. GrannyMay 02/26/2015

    Thanks for sharing your pond video Barbara. I had no idea that the process could be so complicated. The results certainly are gorgeous! We do keep learning useful new things on GPOD!

    Are you planning on using the pond as an alternate source of water for the garden? Or swimming? I can't wait to see the heron sculpture and maybe some other sculpted pond-dwellers take up residence beside the frogs.

  12. NCYarden 02/26/2015

    My goodness, that is quite the endeavor. I really had no idea the amount of effort, regarding the engineering aspects. I assumed a wet area when simply dug deeper would hold water and voila...pond! It really is sweet though. I would love to have such a feature at my home. It should be exciting to see your plant additions and then the wildlife that comes and eats them...ha, just kidding, at least I hope I am. Your place looks awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  13. sheila_schultz 02/26/2015

    What a major undertaking! It was absolutely fascinating to watch the process from start to finish... Now the real fun begins ;) Like everyone else, I can't wait to see the plantings you are dreaming about, this long winter, become a reality. I'm guessing Denis is also doing a bit of dreaming, too? Installment #2 is expected next summer!

  14. MichelleGervais 02/26/2015

    Hey all! Barbara can't seem to comment, so she emailed me what she wanted to say:

    To answer all in one
    message... yes, this was complicated. We did originally start doing this
    ourselves with shovels, and we created a little pond, but the sand
    from the road would just fill it in, and the Wetlands people would not let us
    do so much as remove a shovelful of salt/chemical soaked sand (this baffles me...
    the original wetlands are being destroyed by the "knee-jerk"
    application of chemicals the moment there's a snowflake in the sky, but we are
    not allowed to remove any of it). The area is all spring-fed, so while
    building it we had to run a pump 24 hours a day to keep it dry enough to
    continue digging, and as soon as it was dug deep enough and the pump removed,
    the water started filling in. We could see 7 springs. It took one
    week to reach full depth, about 10 feet in the center. With the by-pass
    tubes, the pond is now nice clear spring water. The tubes empty into
    a ditch below the pond, depositing the nasty salts where they would have ended
    up anyway, and unfortunately that means into the Housatonic River, but that's
    not our fault...

    No liner needed since we
    were able to return the clay back to the base. We had tried a liner in
    our original hand-dug little pond, but critters (we think muskrats) made
    tunnels under it and destroyed the liner's efficacy. We'll have to see
    what the algae situation turns out to be, it was bad with the little hand-dug
    pond but we could swoosh it with rakes to keep it clear. We had planted
    water lilies... big mistake, so they are gone... it's the water we want to
    see! I'm hoping for wildlife, except for beaver! Always been
    pleasantly noisy with frogs on summer nights.

    I've always used the
    water there to water the gardens as needed, and being close to the house, it
    might be important in the event of a fire situation. But the insurance
    company doesn't seem impressed with that plan! There are real wetlands,
    complete with cat tails, at the far end, and we honor their importance and
    value, they remain untouched.

    Yes, what we hear from
    everyone is that it looks like it's always been a pond there. So
    natural. I do wonder if there once was a pond in 1776 when the original
    farmer plotted out his farm and house.

    Advice to anyone
    thinking of doing this, start with a contractor to do the excavation who has a
    nice sense of design. Ours was great. The stone culverts he designed
    at the top and bottom are fabulous. He should have experience creating
    ponds, and should be able to show you some in your area that he has helped
    create, so you can see what the problems and successes are. And remember
    that your town has a wetlands commission that you have to work
    with. Barbara"

  15. Meelianthus 02/26/2015

    Really enjoyed the video Barbara and what an amazing job! I also looked back at your past photos and reminded myself how much I enjoyed your gardens. Your husbands metal sculptures are fabulous, what a talent he has. I imagine he has been doing that for a long time. You have such great space to display them all and they are very entertaining. I'll bet he already has some planned for around the pond. Try some Gunnera and/or Petasites around the waters edge, it would be beautiful there and look so prehistoric - he could even stick a dinosaur in there !! Your snow picture is exceptional, thanks for all.

  16. foxglove12 02/26/2015

    Wow what an undertaking! So fun to see it all come together. Thanks for sharing that.

  17. NevadaSue 03/01/2015

    Love it Barbara! Thanks for the video documentary , that was wonderful. I'm sure you are going to have a great time with landscaping now. So fun :)

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