Dawn Szelc, LDG Secretary Clear Blue Landscapes
The March meeting of the LDG was on ponds as water features in the landscape. We had 5 speakers from different companies in the area with expertise in pond design, construction, and management.
John Magee, of Magee Design (www.johnmagee.com), has expertise in vernal ponds. Besides landscape design, John has a pod cast called The Native Plant Podcast. In Broadlands, VA he did a boardwalk in a storm water area. It is planted with native plants. He discussed the most common invasive that he sees in these areas, which is miscanthus grass, so emphasized not to use this plant. As a side he also mentioned that there is an 8-foot layer of cigarette butts at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay!
John worked with Alonzo Avogadas, Capital Naturalist and Natural Resource Manager for Arlington Parks, at the Barcroft Park near Four Mile Run. This park has a magnolia bog with many Sweet Bay Magnolia growing naturally there. These trees are semi-evergreen and like moisture. Alonzo creates a temporary pool to support the amphibians’ life cycle. He uses a product called a Quick dam that absorbs water and create a damming effect to collect the rain water in the spring. These vernal pools support the life cycle of wood frogs, spring peepers, and later toads. They tend to be acidic. He discussed that if you have a pond or pool in a landscape, he does not recommend stocking it with koi as they will eat any and all frog or amphibian eggs laid there. He has also noticed that his own pond had many dragon flies when there were not koi resident in it. He also recommends having minnow for controlling algae.
John loves pitcher plants which also grow in very wet areas. They are native to northern Michigan and New Hampshire. He showed photos of the Powhatan School in Boyce, VA where they had developed rain gardens. Some of the plants used there include Pawpaw, Hibiscus, Elderberry, Closed gentian, Joe Pye Weed, Cardinal flower, Itea virginica, Fothergilla, Fringe tree, and Cut plant.
The next speaker was Don Jump from Harmony Ponds. Don discussed that they do design, construction, maintenance, and repair of any and all types of water features including ponds, fountains, lakes, and waterfalls.
Kristen Weaver and Tara Sutton from DC Ponds, LLC are two sisters who have developed a business cleaning and maintaining ponds. They showed many before and after photos of the types of ponds that they have experience draining cleaning and then restoring to function and beauty. It is a very labor intensive job that they love.
Lastly, Stephen Koza spoke. He is President of Tropic bay Water Gardens in Davidsonville, MD. His is the largest aquatic garden center on the east coast, and he is a koi specialist. He has green houses that are just for fish sales and has many unusual and special varieties of fish that he hand-selects during visits abroad. His store includes a large selection of backyard art and pottery. Stephen recommends UV sterilizers for better water quality and says the key to a well-maintained pond is filtration. He discussed the trick to keep herons out of your pond and eating the fish is to make the walls at least 3 feet high with straight edges. They are not able to get in to eat the fish.
Our final presentation was to bring all the speakers back for a question and answer panel session. LDG President Julie Hawley asked how to begin creating a pond – what materials are used, etc?
All in all the entire evening was very informative and we thank all the speakers for their contributions.
LDG is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the exchange and enhancement of knowledge relevant to the landscape design profession. We are a group of professional designers in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. Membership is meant for students studying and professionals employed in landscape design or associated professions (i.e. arborists, installers, contractors, etc.).
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