Koi, waterfalls and plants star in next weekend’s pond tour

06/14/2014 8:29 AM

08/06/2014 12:06 PM

I have been in a blue mood this growing season — as in, I’m gravitating more and more to this color in flowers and pottery.

I’ve always thought that blue glazed containers are the most deeply beautiful in the garden. And that blue spruces — discouraged as they are for planting in our climate — provide the most bracing of accent colors.

Even though it doesn’t necessarily go with the overall color scheme, I’ve finally added a blue pot to my front yard — planted with orange petunias and silver Icicles helichrysum and Florida Sun Rose coleus. And I’ve found an outlet for my blues on the Kansas Pond Society tour, which is next weekend in Wichita and Derby.

One could say that water is blue, though pond water usually does not strike me so. But pond owners tend to plant blue spruces, and some use blue stones, and at least one of the gardens on the tour is brimming over with blue pots.

The ponds are the stars of the pond tour, of course. There are all kinds of sizes and waterfalls and bridges and filters and fish to see and learn about on the 13 stops, nine of them private homes. And then there are the surrounding gardens that also offer lessons and inspiration.

The tour will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 21 and noon to 6 p.m. June 22. Tickets are $10 per car, and include admission to Botanica when it’s open, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 21 and from 1 to 5 p.m. June 22. Tickets include addresses, maps and garden descriptions and are available at garden centers, Botanica, Easton Sod Farm and Tails & Scales in Derby, and Atwoods in Andover.

In Derby, Adam and Kellie Hamilton have a lovely pond installed by Hong’s, splashing with two waterfalls and crossed by a stone-slab bridge. There also is a lovely garden path descending the backyard, lined in blue Mexican beach pebbles and alternating steps between flagstone and Stepables (ground covers you can walk on).

The path was Kellie’s idea, and Adam hauled the stones. The path has Irish moss on each end, but more durable hardy thyme in between the flagstones. You can step on the Elfin thyme — but you can also pick it and cook with it, Adam said. It’s in its second year, and is a lovely green contrasting with the sandy stone and blue pebbles.

Next door to the Hamiltons lives Dave Peebler, king of koi, and his wife, Claudia. Standing in between their houses is to hear waterfalls in stereo.

The garden of the blue pots is back in Wichita in Crown Heights, where DeAun and Bill Johnson have a backyard without grass but full of pots —including container water gardens — and two connected ponds.

David and Joy Hansen have been getting acclimated to having a pond over the past four years after buying a north-Wichita cottage whose yard had seven of them. Because the ponds were inactive, they were full of sludge and not appealing, Joy Hansen said. But at the urging of a neighbor, they got one pond semi-operational, and added some goldfish. After four goldfish survived the first winter, they were encouraged to try some koi, and then fell in love with the fish and ended up expanding the pond.

The Hansens joined the pond society this year after losing many koi last year, so that they could learn how to do things right.

Now, “at night it’s like — serenity is a good word to use,” Joy Hansen said. The pond “has underwater lights with these bubblers, so it’s like a giant aquarium. These fish come alive at night — you wouldn’t believe it. You can watch them for hours. ... It’s just a great joy because they’re pets, and they have personalities.”

Joy Hansen has done a lot of gardening in the front and back yards, too. The backyard also features another type of pets — tame chickens in a cute coop — and, as the best garden exclamation point, a new blue spruce.

About Annie Calovich

Annie writes about home and garden, including her Bit of Earth column on Saturdays. She has been at The Eagle since 1985, working as a copy editor, a nation/world editor and a reporter. She’s a KU graduate who started out at The Coffeyville Journal.

Contact Annie at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com

Follow Annie on Twitter: @AnnieCalovich

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