The Hub and I cleaned the pond this past weekend.  While unnecessary for the health of an aquatic environment (pond scum smell isn’t the least bit off-putting for the fish, plants, or insects), we start anew each spring with a thorough cleaning.  Occasionally, we’ve skipped the chore in favor of other demands.

Fish were removed and stored in containers for the day; water was drained into the gardens, which love the rich liquid;  lilies and bog plants were separated, then re-potted; leaves and pond-bottom gunk was scooped out, bucketed, and dumped into the compost bin.  The aquatic environment is now refreshed and renewed for a year of lush growth.

After the work–it’s a long day–I photographed the less foliage-covered, fresh watered pond.  I’m struck by what this shot shows.

Aside from the beauty and diversity that a pond (clean or otherwise) brings to a garden, what caught my imagination was representations of the traditional, though unscientific, four elements of the Western world: Earth, Air, Fire, Water.

Water:  it ripples and supports pond life. To the left of the photo, unseen, is the waterfall.  The force of the waterfall, combined with whatever breeze exits, moves the water across the pond, in gentle, incessant movement. 

Air:  the rippled water reflects the blue sky and white clouds.   In Air, but part of Earth, the overhanging trees are mirrored in the Water, bookending the clouds and sky.

Earth: limestone rocks border the pond.  These rocks are from the cemetery where our lily/our daughter, Shoshana, rests, and are as solid and permanent as our love for her.  The three pond lilies also rest–under water–which breathes life in each; rocks hug that source of life.

Fire: of a sort, in the sparkling Texas sun as its rays reach, and touch, Water.

Joining in today with Anna’s Flutter and Hum and her wonderful Wednesday Vignette.  Please pop over for garden, nature, and other musings.


Game On, Spring

As February races toward its conclusion, this Austin garden is ready for spring.  I started pruning in late December, after the first of the freezes lay waste to the herbaceous  perennials in my gardens.  I’ve been pruning since.  Seven garbage cans full of garden detritus every week, for almost two months.

Plants like Turk’s Cap (Malavaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) are whacked.


The luscious, sunny-blooming Goldeneye (Viguiera dentata)? Nary but sticks protruding from the ground.


The Martha Gonzales Roses are reduced to a fifth of their full size.


Some Variegated Flax Lily (Dianella tasmanica),


fared better than others in my gardens.


All I pruned from the Flax Lily were the freeze damaged straps.  It’s the one plant (I have four groups of them) that I dutifully covered with each freeze forecast into the 20s.

And the  Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) and other evergreen native shrubby plants are pruned into tidy balls,


or spindly bits of green perched on woody stems, waiting for the just right  light and breath of warm spring air to burst into new growth.


I still have more to prune, but I’m almost finished for the year.

I didn’t lose any established plants this winter and that gratifies me and validates my garden choices.  I choose natives or hardy non-natives, with the occasional splurge for the newest, cheap thrill plant that everyone (okay, just gardeners) is talking about.

I always think of the winter landscape as barren, but it isn’t, even in this winter which was colder than any of the past 19 years.   With most of the flowering perennials in my front garden temporarily gone, I’m reminded how nice my ignored-most-of-the-year evergreens are during their winter concert on this sunny February day.


And in my back garden, I like the clearly defined garden and pathways.  The iris and yucca straps dominate,


while the Heartleaf Skullcap (Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata) insinuates its soft green carpet anywhere allowed.


I have a clean pond, which will make pond maintenance easier for the rest of the year and appeals to my aesthetic sense.  I don’t think the fish care whether I clean the pond or not.


Spring is almost here.  The Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) is pruned to the ground


but life begins anew.


The Columbines (Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana) are lush,


their first buds emerging.


Bring it on, Spring.