Home & Garden

A soothing backyard pond in a Zen-like Asian garden

Nancy Fredrickson's backyard pond at 1807 S. Clifton will be part of the annual pond tour.
Nancy Fredrickson's backyard pond at 1807 S. Clifton will be part of the annual pond tour. The Wichita Eagle

Nancy Fredrickson likes to start her day by sitting outdoors, weather permitting, next to her 760-gallon backyard pond.

With the gentle splash of water falling off the rocks into the pond, it's the perfect place for her and her 94-year-old mother to sit on an outdoor glider and begin the day with coffee, the newspaper and daily devotions.

Fredrickson had always wanted a water pond and a Zen-like Asian garden, so a couple of years after moving into her southeast Wichita home near Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph, she dove into transforming her backyard.

In 2004, landscaper Raymond Sharon replaced a vegetable garden and a blackberry patch with a small pond.

A few years later, she realized she wanted a bigger pond with koi in it.

In 2015, Fredrickson had the pond enlarged to about twice the size in circumference, gallon capacity and depth. The 3-foot depth of the new pond is enough for Fredrickson to keep as many as 12 fish. As she sits on the glider, she'll occasionally throw fish food to the pool's inhabitants, calling for them.

Tucked behind two pelican statues perched atop the pond's spillway and a cluster of three nandina plants is the pond's filtration system – a DIY project Fredrickson did after going to a workshop sponsored by the Kansas Pond Society. Fredrickson has been a member of the society for more than a decade.

For the first time, her pond is one of those featured on the society's annual pond tour, happening June 16 and 17. Seven residential and four commercial water gardens are on the weekend tour.

The pond has always been Fredrickson's favorite focal point in her backyard. It's filled with water lilies, and dragonflies like to flit around the lizard tail plant, a perennial with large, heart-shaped leaves. When the white flowers on the plant's spikes mature, the end of the spike looks like a curved lizard's tail. A jade crabapple and a juniper provide a bit of shade.

For anyone who likes water features, Fredrickson said, “My most helpful hint is to join the Kansas Pond Society. Everyone there has a pond, had a pond or wants a pond.”

Along with learning practical advice, like how to build her DIY pond filtration system, she's acquired décor and other pond items from the society's fundraiser sales among its members.

As Fredrickson's yard already had about a 3-foot “dropoff” toward the back fence line, Sharon's original landscape design called for terracing the dropoff a few feet in from the fence line and then building a berm to better accommodate the pond and elevate it so it can be easily seen from Fredrickson's living room.

Until last year, Fredrickson kept a strawberry patch in the area between the fence and the terrace. A retired art teacher from the Goddard school district, Fredrickson has since moved the patch to a raised garden bed she built and installed.

Dirt from excavating the larger pond was moved to the north side of her yard to fill in a sloping pathway and she's putting the finishing touches on the rock pathway there, in front of a shed she had built to resemble a Japanese tea house. A few feet away, she's painted a footbridge a bright red, to add another Asian feel to her backyard. Her home features several Asian-inspired décor items, as well. Asian-style statuary and ceramic pots are placed throughout the gardens and bamboo edging surrounds one of the gardens.

Most of the rocks she's used to surround the pond and create the pathways and garden walls – including some of the rocks used to create an inlaid rock dragonfly in one garden – were purchased at Kansas Natural Stone, which offers discounts to pond society members.

Kansas Pond Society tour

What: Tour of seven residential and four commercial water gardens in Wichita, Haysville, Newton and Colwich. Some locations will be available for touring one day only. Refer to the tour map for details. Lemonade stands benefiting Wesley Children's Hospital will be available at some locations.

When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, June 16, and noon-5 p.m. Sunday, June 17

Tickets: $10 per carload. Maps listing the locations serve as the tickets and can be purchased now at Johnson's Garden Center locations, Hong's Nursery, Scenic Landscape and Woodard Mercantile. On the days of the tour, maps can also be purchased at 1807 S. Clifton, one of the residential gardens on the tour.

More information: kansaspondsociety.org