The Ponds at Mayfield Park


DSC_4969-PanoMayfield Park is a nice little city park located off 35th street and is the home of several peacocks (and peahens), ponds, gardens and Nature trails. The gardens are maintained by volunteers several of whom were working this Saturday morning. Many more people were hiking the Nature Trails. It is a popular place for weddings and as it happened,  one of which was due later in the afternoon meaning that we had a deadline to finish our work.  This is the link to the Mayfield Park website.

There are five large ponds and one smaller one. The volunteers from the Pond Society chose one that was obviously in need of cleaning as the project for Saturday, March 11th. Altogether, there were nine people that volunteered their time and braved a cold and pretty wet day. It rained that fine misty stuff that gets you wet without you being aware of it.

I got there around 9:00 am and there were several people already working. Steven had a pump set up and had his waders on and was in the pond lifting out the  heavy lily and iris pots. The first thing I did was to set up the pump that I had brought with me to help lower the water level. Charlie was moving the old pots over to the garage where Jeannie, Julie and BJ were busy emptying them so they could trim the lilies before repotting them. Phillip, Mike and Cory made themselves useful  wheeling barrows full of the waste dirt cut off from the plants and coming back with barrows of repotting dirt. I joined Charlie in dragging the repotted plants back to the pond on a skid contraption that actually worked pretty well on the flagstone. Not quite so good on the grass.

Steven found two turtles and a snake while he was in the pond and he commented that accidentally grabbing the snake gave him a bit of a start. Snakes tend to do that to most people especially when it is unexpected. The pond we were working on holds around 17000 gallons of water so it is pretty big. Mike put on his waders and  jumped into the pond to help Steven place the repotted plants and clean up the debris from the bottom of the pond. After the completion of repotting the lilies and placing them back into the ponds, the two of them spent time netting out the leaves and other trash during which they found six Perch that had been placed in there by persons unknown. They put them in one of the other ponds as the city water that we were using to refill the pond has chlorine in it which is a death sentence to any fish or other aquatics. The turtles were released into the stream that flows at the bottom of the hill and the snake had already made his own way to safety.

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There were a lot of visitors that were in the Park while we were there. The older people use the Park for exercise and whole families came out to enjoy Nature. The younger generation oohed and aahed over the two turtles that were temporarily in a container and the Peacocks were strutting their stuff and kicking up a god awful racket with their calls. They are pretty to look at but can be very annoying with their extremely loud and very unmusical voices. If it wasn’t for the rainy weather, it would have been a real pleasant place to work. We still have one more pond to go so hopefully, the sun will be shining when we get to that one. That is a story for another day…

Below is a slideshow of the some of the views within the Park.

Mayfield Park March 11, 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

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Austin Pond Society February 2017 Meeting.


dsc_4930The Austin Pond Society held its February 2017 meeting at the usual place, the Zilker Botanical Garden clubhouse this past Monday. It was well attended with close to 50 members and guests showing up.

The meal served was Pizza provided by Jet’s Pizza who has also opted to become a sponsor for the Society. Thank you Jet’s Pizza and incidentally, the pizza was pretty darn good. It was hard to not keep going back for more. Desert’s were provided by the members and we can always use more at any of the meetings.

After the delicious meal, the speaker for the evening, Linda Wall, was introduced by Barb Lenhardt, Program Director. Linda is from the Natural Gardener located at 8648 Old Bee Caves Road, Austin and her subject was New Ideas and Designs for your Bog.
Here is her introduction, “I’m expanding the talk to native Texas bog plants and marginals, many of which we sell. I’ll be bringing the ones we have in stock for a bit of “show and tell” along with some non-natives that we sell that do well in bogs, things like mint and gotu kola (one y’all may not have heard of! Fun!).”

Her talk was very interesting and she introduced us to a whole bunch of new plants that do well in our bog, some we have never even heard of and others that we did not realize we could use in and around out ponds and bogs. Hers was a show and tell as she had brought many plants with her to accompany her slide show. Below is a video of her presentation.

APS Meeting Feb 2017 Linda Wall from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Following Linda, Jeannie stepped up to the mic to conduct the small amount of business that we had to take care of. One by one, the Board Members gave their spiel on the given subjects. Jack Marshall, our new Treasurer presented the budget for the year, Margaret Boeneke, our new Librarian pointed out that there are several books out on loan, some of which for more than a couple of years and she asked for the members to get them turned back in, Barb Lenhardt, Publicity discussed the speakers for the upcoming meetings, I talked about the Marketplace on the website, xxxxx filling in for Rodney Lewis who is recovering from surgery, discussed the number of registered members, Ted Paone, Pond Tour Director talked about the upcoming Tour and the fact that he needs another 8 ponds to fill out this year’s Tour and last but not least, our most favorite and popular Board Member, Steven Monfrini, Hospitality pleaded for us to “Eat more Pizza”. We all wish Rodney our best wishes and to “Get Well Soon.”

The meeting closed following the drawing for the door prizes. The next meeting is on March 20 at the same place with the Speaker to be announced.

Below is a video of the Business part of the meeting.

APS Meeting Feb 2017 Business. from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Austin Pond Society – January 2017


dsc_4783This evening, we held the first Austin Pond Society meeting of the new year at the usual place, Zilker Botanical Gardens Clubhouse. The meeting was attended by around 40 or so of its members who were treated to a light meal of Tacos and all of the trimmings followed by a very large assortment of desserts brought in by the members. Our thanks to Steven Monfrini for preparing the delicious spread. To be the most popular person in the entire organization is no mean feat and all you have to do is to feed us to attain that rank as Steven does every month.

Prior to the start of the main meeting, Ted Paone, Chairman of this year’s Pond Tour, held the first introductory meeting of the Pond Tour Committee off to one side, finishing up in time to join the rest of the group for the meal.

dsc_4788At 7:00 pm, the Speaker for the evening,  Jody from Bloomers Garden Center along with her husband Marcus, talked to us about Building a Faerie Garden. She accompanied her talk with slides from the Faerie Garden that she and her family have built at her Garden Center which is located at 507 N. Highway 95, Elgin. See the video below of her presentation.

Faery Garden Meeting Jan 16, 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Following the Speaker, President Jeannie Ferrier presented the new 2017 Board and asked each to introduce themselves. As Webmaster, I was asked to make a presentation about the website and I put together a 15 minute video on it which unfortunately was unable to show due to technical difficulties with the sound. While fussing with this problem, I missed out on filming some of Jeannie introducing the Board Members including the four new ones. Consequently, the video is mostly all audio with a picture of the back wall as the video. Apologies all around.

APS Business Jan 16, 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Hopefully, I will show the video of the website at the next meeting. The meeting closed following the drawing for the door prizes.

The next meeting will be held at the same place on Monday, February 20 starting at 6:30 pm. Hope to see you there.

Austin Pond Society October Meeting 2016


The Austin Pond Society held their October Meeting at the usual place, Zilker Botanical Gardens Clubhouse on the third Monday of the month starting at 6:30 pm. Following the usual custom, the members were treated to a meal of Baked Potato with all of the fixin’s followed by deserts brought in by the membership. The meal, courtesy of Stephen and Cory was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Following the meal around 7:00 pm, the Speaker for the evening, Taylor Miller of Taylormade Waterscapes, ably assisted by his wife, Sara Lynn, gave us a very interesting talk about building ponds. He also discussed a pond that he worked on for a wealthy Koi enthusiast that was a miracle of modern technology in its construction. For most of us, this was the extreme in pond building and something that we would only read about in books and magazines. Taylor spoke for an hour to an audience of around thirty five members who all appeared to enjoy his talk.

Following Taylor, Jeannie Ferrier, our President stepped up to the mike to conduct the business part of the meeting which consisted of a brief summary by the current Board Members, several of whom are stepping down at the end of the year. Not on the video due to technical problems is the announcement by Francis, the Webmaster of a new page that had just been installed on the website that enables members to post used pond and garden related equipment to sell, swap or just plain give away. This page is named “The Marketplace”. The page is up and running and requires that a form be filled out and submitted giving a description of the articles that need to be posted. Following this announcement, we arrived at the main business of the evening, the election of new Board Members and the re-election of those continuing to stay.

The following members have kindly volunteered their time as new Board Members or in the case of Nancy Reinert, a change of position. Publicity -Ellen Filtness , Membership – Rodney Lewis , Parliamentarian -Nancy Reinert (Switching from Treasurer), Treasurer – David Collier .
The remaining Board members who are continuing in their current roles,  are as follows,
Jeannie Ferrier – President, Glen Hubenthal – Historian, Julienne Smith – Secretary, Ted Paone – Pond Tour Chairman, Barb Lenhardt – Publicity/Special Events, Betty Blackson – Librarian,  Francis Allcorn – Webmaster.

The election of officers completed the business for the evening except for the all important drawing for the door prizes which as usual was closely followed with the appropriate boos and hisses when a board member won a prize. With everyone joining in, the place was quickly cleaned up and made shipshape for the next meeting of whoever that may be.

The  Austin Pond Society’s next meeting, which will also be the last for the year, will be on November 21st at the usual time. There will not be a speaker as the entire meeting will be our Thanksgiving/Christmas Party with lots of food, music and dancing. Don’t forget to wear your ugly Christmas sweater so that you can participate in the “UGLY SWEATER CONTEST”. This year, we are asked to bring an unwrapped toy for the Brown Santa Program  which in turn will be given to needy children at Christmas. Hope to see you there. Oh yes, don’t forget to bring your food offering to the meeting in the form of salads, cookies, pastries and my favorite, apple or mince pie.

The first video is of Taylor Miller.

APS November Speaker 2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The last video is the Business section of the meeting.

APS Monthly Business Meeting October 2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Austin Pond Society September Meeting 2016


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Door Prizes

The Austin Pond Society held it’s September meeting at the usual location, Zilker Botanical Garden on Monday, September 19, 2016. This time, the Society was trying something different and instead of opening the meeting with the usual meal, they held a Swap or Sell meeting. Members who had items of Pond or Garden Equipment were encouraged to bring their wares and put them on display. As some of the items were fairly large, it was decided to hold that part of the meeting outdoors on the side of the building which meant that it had to be over by 7:00 pm as it was beginning to get dark. There were some interesting items on display, a push lawn mower, an electric train set, a pond filter and lots of miscellaneous stuff like plant pots, screening material and many different types of plants and many other things too numerous to list.

Following the Swap and Sell meet in which it appears that the plants were the most popular items, the meeting moved back indoors to enjoy Pizza and Salads and deserts brought by the Members before the start of business.

The main order of business for the evening was the participation and voting for the Calendar which is a very popular event for the year. Prior to that was a brief discussion by Jeannie, the President and Nancy Reinert about the invitation to all interested members to participate in converting a Pool to Pond seminar at Nancy’s house on Saturday. It was going to be a working event with the members quite literally getting their hands dirty as they helped to clean out Nancy’s existing Pool/Pond. Hers has been set up for four years and was in need of a plant clean-out and replacement and would show the interested  members just what it takes to make the conversion. You can read about that event at this link.Cleaning the Pool/Pond Conversion

The next order of business was given by Laura who outlined the vacancies on the Board and at the same time went around the room asking for volunteers. As with most small organizations, it is usually the same people that run the show and we are desperately looking for some new blood. The elections will be held at the October meeting. This meeting was looking for nominations. Following this, was the drawing for the door prizes.

The final event of the evening was the announcement of the different winners for the Calendar in which members had voted earlier in the evening. Their were four categories,
1) Ponds and pond features
2) Fish
3) Wildlife (“any insects, amphibians, birds, critters, etc. found around or in our ponds,” except fish)
4) Pond Plants
with a first, second and third place winners and the one with the most votes goes on the front page. This is always a popular event and there were some truly amazing pictures.dsc_3941

This was the final event of the evening and all that remained was for the members who had brought items which had not been sold having to re-load them into their cars to take them home. All in all, another popular meeting with about 45 members enjoying good company and good food.

As with all of these pictures, if you click on one it will enlarge and you can use the side arrows to move along. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal.
Below is the video of the inside events.

APS September Meeting 2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Cleaning the Converted Pool to Fish Pond September 2016


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I got up early, at least for me, so that I could film the volunteers from the Austin Pond Society as they worked on Nancy and Jake’s pond. This particular pond is actually a converted swimming pool and at least one member had asked the question, “How can I convert my pool” at the last meeting. This blog will show the process in reverse.

This was another example of how the Austin Pond Society by means of a show and tell with members physically joining in with the work, have them  performing  such tasks so that they have the knowledge and ability when the time comes, to perform the work on their own ponds. It was also an opportunity for those members that needed pond plants, to get some for free in return for their help.

When I arrived about 9:30 am, there were several people already hard at work. This included Jeannie and Steve, Jeannie’s son, Cory and of course Nancy and Jake. They had already lowered the water by a couple of feet and both Steve and Cory were in the pond removing the plants. Steven had on waders and Cory was in with just his bathing trunks. The pond/pool is about 30 feet long and 18 feet wide and like most swimming pools had a shallow and deep end. The shallow end is where most of the plants were standing on metal glass topped tables that Jake had especially adapted for this use.

It took a good hour and a half to get all of the plants out of the water and during this time, several other people showed up to help including Alex and David and a little later on, BJ, Ann and Betty. With all of these helpers, the work on the deck was quickly divided into groups as plants were separated and re-potted. Plants that were not going to be re-planted and all of the sundry dirt and roots from the rest was taken to the trash heap some little distance from the deck. Ted, our Pond Tour Chairman showed and he helped Jake get the inlet pipe ready to be reconnected. During this process, Jake’s new electric drill fell into the pond and was eventually fished out by Alex using a long handled net. It remains to be seen if it will dry out enough to work.

While this was going on, the pond boys, Steven and Cory had been replacing the newly re potted plants onto the glass topped tables within the pond locating them in their new homes. For them, this was a much simpler job than their previous one of taking the plants out of the ponds. Even though the plants originally had been planted in pots, Nature being what it is, does not contain itself within these limitations and many of the plants had not only outgrown their pots but had been growing in wild abandon without the pots constrictions. Consequently, when it was time to get them out, they were way too big and too heavy and had to be cut down into smaller chunks. The Umbrella plant in particular, which looked very spectacular, took Steve and Cory probably a good fifteen minutes before they could manhandle it out of the pond and not before they had cut it into several more manageable sized pieces.

While others were working in and around the pond, BJ was working on the bog which is an above deck structure and is probably about fifteen feet by six feet and about 3 feet high. She spent her time pulling plants out of the bog around the edges and thinning out others towards the middle. She looked a fine sight as she was mud spattered from head to toe.dsc_3988

As soon as Jake and Ted had the inlet pipe hooked back together, Jake turned on the water to the bog which in turn, provided some circulation within the pond. They have a 9500 gph pump which is pushing a lot of water which showed with the amount that flowed out of the bog. About this time, hot dogs were served and the pond crew took a hard earned rest. As it happened, they also had to leave and so Alex volunteered to get into the pond to complete the remaining work. Some of the other helpers had left as most of the work was complete.

I said my goodbyes and Nancy walked me back to my car. While we were there talking, two more members showed, Cynthia and Barb both of whom had previous engagements that had kept them away, full of apologies for their lateness. Both were surprised that the work was complete.

It was a very interesting experience and even though I had to put up with a lot of joking remarks about my role as photographer, followed by dire threats of being plastered in mud, I managed to get out of there unscathed. All in all, a very interesting morning.

I took a lot of film and have turned them into videos.
The first and longest shows the work involved in clearing the pond.
The second shows the plants as they are cut up into smaller and more manageable pieces to be re-potted and then the re-potting itself.
The third is very short and shows the inlet pipe that was already assembled and being put back into the pond.
The next video is of BJ  and others cleaning some of the plants out of the bog.
The last video is of the plants being replaced into the pond.

Cleaning the Pond Pool September 2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Re-potting the plants 9-24-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Re-assembling the inlet pipe. from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Cleaning the Bog from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Replacing the plants from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Thoughts on Texas


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At last, I thought, the heat has gone
finally Summer is cooling down
time to get back on the trails again
and walk and walk without feeling so hot
and having to drink so much water a lot
but then this week the heat returned
and yesterday was one hundred degrees
and although it is starting to cool
I’m feeling more like a bit of a fool
again and once more Mother Nature played tricks
lulling us to think the heat was gone
and this year at least it had sung its swansong
where other parts of the country are cool
and already their leaves are starting to turn
in Texas our climate here is such
that another month will go by without much
change or cooling down that we note
and even longer before a coat
the beauty of living in this hot State
with its blistering temperatures that we hate
is that winters are mild as compared with elsewhere
and we play outside for all of the year
with only the very occasional day
when the weather is too cold outside to play.

I love living in Texas hot weather and all…