Austin Pond Society Annual Pond Tour – North Part 1, Part 2 and Plants and Fish, 2017

The Austin Pond Society held its 23rd Annual Pond Tour on June 3-4, 2017. The North Tour was held on Saturday, June 3, 2017 with a total of 11 ponds. All were exceptional and all offered something just a little different,

There were too many pictures for one video so it is split into Part 1 and Part 2.

Austin Pond Society Annual Tour North-Part 1 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Austin Pond Society Annual Pond Tour North – Part 2 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

I also made a separate video of the Plants, Flowers and Fish for the North Tour.

Austin Pond Society North Tour 2017 (Flowers and Fish) 6-4-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Busy in the Garden and the Ponds.

DSC_5129I have spent the last couple of months working either in the garden or in and around the ponds and have not had the time to go on any hikes at all. In between, I fitted in a couple of fish rescues and consequently have added to the plants that are surplus to my requirements.

Spring arrived early here in my part of Central Texas with only two days of freezing weather, which was enough to knock down almost every living plant in both the garden and the ponds. This required considerable effort to cut everything back and then move the cut material to the compost heap and took several days and much moaning and complaining on my part. Nothing new with that as I tend to moan and complain about everything especially if it is not going well. Luckily, I am the only one within earshot as usually, the dogs make a quick exit when I start cussing. Actually,I don’t rant and rave but generally just utter a quick “f” word and then go about my business figuring out how to get over whatever caused me to cuss in the first place.

I have already written a couple of blogs of some of my other escapades. Things like the Skippy Filters, part 1 and 2 and the Doggie Escape Fixes and the Ponds at Mayfield Park. I spent some time in reworking the plumbing inlet pipe to the pump on the Aquadyne system on the 6000 gallon pond and am much happier with the result. At least now, it sucks in water and does not keep blocking up although in fairness, this is a bad time of the year with the Live Oaks dropping all of their blooms most of which seem to go into the ponds. Thank goodness that this is nearly over as it is very messy, everywhere and not just in the water.

The pictures show the amount of new growth already in the ponds.

Altogether, I repotted a dozen or more lilies plus sundry other water plants and then, spent some time trimming the remaining lilies getting them ready for others to plant. I took a 5 gallon bucket full with about 30 or so plants to the Pond Meeting which happened to coincide with my planting efforts and they were all gone within minutes. I still have at least that number remaining in the tubs which I plan on taking to the next meeting which is our Annual Plant Swap. I also had a few other people stop bye to get some of the plants for their own ponds.

Potting lilies is not hard work although somewhat messy and the old potted material does not smell that great either.. First of all, it requires getting into all of the ponds and removing the pots to the side and then getting out of the pond to transport them to the table, upending the pot on its side to get the lily root (tuber) out of the pot, and then trimming it back to a more manageable size that has new growth that is already sprouting. These are then placed back into the pot on top of a layer of clay type dirt, adding fertilizer tablets and then covering it up with more dirt so that just the new growth is showing. I usually place pebbles on the top to try to discourage the big Koi from washing the lily out of the pot with their tails as they love to get at the roots. The whole pot is then submerged back into the water about a foot or more down.

Following all of the repotting efforts, it required that I get back into the ponds to place the pots which I did. This year, I am trying something different in an attempt to get some of the lilies to last long enough to flower and that is, to place anywhere from 6 to 10 lilies in each of the big ponds. Maybe, if there are so many, the Koi will leave them alone. In some cases, I had used the 18 inch tall pots which I just stood on the bottom of the pond and already, the ponds are covered with lily pads and I noticed that we already have a bloom. First lily bloom of the season.


With everything growing so fast, it is hard to keep up with all of the trimming and raking but it is a labor of love and quite enjoyable. I need to get my riding mower repaired to cut the grass alongside of the road. Seems like every year, I have to have something done to that particular piece of machinery before it will start. I have other mowers so it not like I have to use the riding mower.

Darn, the pump on the stream has just stopped. I wonder what is wrong with it, Just blocked up or maybe worn out. Stay tuned for the next story…

And I Thought I was Old…

dsc_4175As the Webmaster for the Austin Pond Society, my name is listed as the contact person for anyone who needs to contact the site for whatever reason. Usually, it is to ask a pond related question or maybe to find out if we do fish rescues and such like. My normal procedure is to contact the sender and find out just what their question is all about before deciding who to send it to within the organization. Sometimes, I can provide them with an answer over the phone and other times, I need to make a trip and visit them at their location.

I received a call from a gentleman we shall call Jim who was inquiring if I knew of anyone who wanted to buy his Koi and pond equipment as he needed to shut his pond down. I made arrangements to meet with him at his house to take a look and pictures to post on the new website pages that I have just put up that we call “The Marketplace”. Jim’s equipment would have been the first ones up.

When I pulled up outside of his house, I saw this sprightly looking older gentleman kneeling down in the middle of his front yard preparing a bed for the plants he was going to put there. We shook hands and he took me back to the pond which was at the back of the house. Turns out, Jim liked to chatter and before we reached the pond, I had already found out that he had just celebrated his 86th  birthday. I gotta say that he looked re-markedly fit and healthy for an 86 year old. He told me that he spends most of his time working, out in the yard and he did have a beautiful place. Unlike my lazy approach to building sidewalks of steel edging and reconstituted gravel, he opted to build forms and pour concrete curbing and then finish with brick pavers. He showed me all he had done so far and told me of his future plans for his yard. Quite obviously , he had no plans to retire from his yard work and being 86 was not going to slow him down.

We walked to the pond which was a very nice 1500 gallon pond with a huge stone waterfall and stone edges. The waterfall was not running due to a leak that he thought he knew the general location of but did not fancy moving tons of rocks to get to it. This was another reason that he was shutting down the pond. The pond contained eight lilies, two very large Koi and eight equally large goldfish. The circulation equipment consisted of a 4000 gph exterior pump with an attached UV light system that took the water from the pond and emptied it into a large waterfall box through an Aquadyne filtering system. He also had an Aerator which he was using to keep the water oxygenated. The whole set up was exactly what I was looking for to add to my largest pond. I made Jim an offer and wrote him a check and told him that I would return on the following Monday to remove the fish and equipment.

As I promised, I drove back to Round Rock on the following Monday which was a 50 mile trip one way for me. I didn’t mind the drive as my Ford Escape and Trailer hook up, runs very smoothly together on the road and it gave me ample opportunity to listen to my latest Audiobook, an intriguing story of the end of civilization as we know it. Jim was at the back of the house and left me a note on his front door telling me his location. He had already disassembled all of the equipment  with the exception of the Aerator which he had left running for the fish which would be the last thing to be loaded. We moved the disassembled equipment out to where I had backed in the trailer without any trouble followed by the eight waterlilies. Jim had a separate pump that he used to pump down the water so that he could get into the pond to hand out the lilies which were in tall pots. We placed each of the lilies inside a 40 gallon plastic bag to protect them on the trip home. Each time I tried to push the wheelbarrow containing the lilies, Jim kept taking the thing out of my hands so that he could do it. I don’t know if he was afraid that I would hurt myself or that unknowingly, we were in an old mans competition to see who could wheel the most. Actually, I didn’t mind one bit to let him be King of the Hill.

The last thing that we took to the trailer were the fish. Again, Jim jumped into the pond and using my fish net, caught the fish and I carried them out and placed them into an eighty gallon tank I had brought along. This tank has a cover and the entire thing is placed inside a tarpaulin. We had previously filled the tank with water from the pond so as the fish at least were in water they were used to. Again, Jim coupled up hoses and attached them to his extra pump to fill the eighty gallon tank. Talk about being a useful man to have around. He sure was that and more and he was not finished yet.

We finished loading out the trailer and by the time we were through, it was full. I happened to glance at the tires and noticed they were low on air. Jim noticed it too and the next thing, he came out with a tire gauge and an air pump and proceeded to air up both tires AND the spare. I thanked him profusely for everything especially for all of his help as usually on these sort of assignments, I am the one doing all of the work.

The drive home was trouble free and when I arrived at my house and checked the fish tank, everything was just fine and all of the fish had made it safely. It wasn’t long before I had them in their new home where they immediately headed for the bottom of the pond. It must have been quite an experience for them.

Actually, it was for me too. I got to meet a very nice gentleman who liked to talk. I learned about his past life as we worked and he told a good story. He was a man very much like myself in his ability to work hard and his usefulness knew no bounds as we worked on dismantling his pond. It was a real pleasure to do business with him.

The only downside to the entire operation that with me purchasing all of the equipment, there was nothing to post on the new webpage known as “The Marketplace”. Oh well, at least it is ready for the next person that wants to close down their pond or that just has surplus equipment for sale and I promise that next time, as long as they don’t have another exterior electric motor and wet end with a 4000 gph or more capacity, I will not buy it before others have a chance.

A Beautiful Lotus

A beautiful Lotus

A beautiful Lotus

This Lotus is named Momo Botan – Nelumbo Double Pink and is one of several growing in my ponds. I do not have any luck with water lilies as the Koi are so big, they tear them to pieces as they go after the roots. Lotus have harder and thicker stems with prickles on them and the Koi tend to leave them alone.

Next year, I plan on more Lotus and I will not even bother with lilies.

Walking the Woods at McKinney Roughs Nature Park

Riverbend Trail at McKinney Roughs

Riverbend Trail at McKinney Roughs

I spent some time this past weekend
walking the woods at McKinney Roughs
with trails spread so far and wide
it was difficult to decide
which way to go and in the end
I chose a trail that did bend
and returned me to where I started from
Pine Ridge is the trail that brought me home.

The hike covered a couple of miles
over terrain of different kinds
some covered in brush and others too
that were of Oak trees and the Cedar kind
the trails were clear and the terrain was rough
it climbed and dipped as I followed the path
leading me to places yet unknown
as never before had I walked this way.

Even though the weather was hot
there was enough shade that most of the time
in the direct sun I was not.

I walked along looking to see
if the view would impress me
so that I had to stop and a picture take
as that was the purpose of the walk
that and the exercise I would gain
I passed two others on the way
a woman and I suppose her son
striding it out on the way back
to where they had both begun.

The trail led me back to the starting point
and at that point I had to decide
which way next should I go
or should I just call it a day
I opted another trail I should take
this one was called Riverside
and it would take me down the hill
until the river I would see
which at this point flows very slow
and had water lilies and other plants
that show off their beauty in this quiet place.

The only company that I had
was a Big Blue Heron out in the lake
standing so tall and so serene
with the patience of a Saint
as it waits for some form of food
a fish or other aquatic life
that will swim within this big birds reach
and with speed so fast the bird will strike
and come up with it in its beak
and with a toss of the head will turn the food
and swallow it whole, its sustenance of life.

I could not take any pictures of
the heron as it devoured its prey
my view of the bird was not too clear
as the tree branches were in the way
so with a sigh I got up to leave
as the Heron flew away
a successful hunt from its point of view
not so good for whatever it ate
but that is Mother Natures way
as in the food chain we all have our say.

I turned and started back up the hill
watching the bird had been a thrill
as seeing Nature in the raw
had not given me my fill
so with long and determined strides
I tackled the trail back up the hill
and figured I had a half a mile
of uphill climb before I could rest
as from that point on no longer a test
as the trail climbed at a more even keel.

Back in my car I sat for a while
and thought of the hike and what I had seen
tough climbs followed by easy ones too
and lets not forget the Big Blue
who had let me in to share the strife
for a brief moment as he had to work
for a short period of time, to sustain his life.

Pine Ridge Trail

Pine Ridge Trail

I covered more than four miles this day
walking on trails both narrow and wide
walking is supposed to be good for the soul
but its hell on the body I have to say
especial when you are growing old
this is not the first nor my last
as I have plans for other trails to take
with my camera by my side
looking for pictures of the things I view
and of all of the beautiful things around
to me Mother Nature, so profound
I enjoy the most on any day.

If I did not come from modern times
with computers and internet and other finds
I would opt to live a different day
in a totally different way
for off the land I would try to live
and grow my food and try to give
back to Nature as she gives to me
as we live together in harmony.

I know its easy to dream these dreams
when in reality I live in a house
and go to the store to buy my food
and cook on a stove or turn on the lights
no hardship do I have to face
or live outside the weather to brave
but still a part of me will always be
close to Nature who is Mother to me.

McKinney Roughs 8-21-2013 Slide Show from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Pond Society Meeting- Feb 20, 2012

Some of the Members

I had the pleasure of attending the monthly Pond Society Meeting last evening held at Zilker Botanical Gardens. The usual suspects were there with a couple of new enthusiasts hoping to gain knowledge and insight to the wonders of water gardening.

As usual, the first fifteen minutes was  devoted to feeding ourselves on the food supplied to help  start the meeting off feeling good. This week, we had sandwiches, cheeses, carrots and cucumbers, crackers, chips and dip followed by a wonderful cake.  I am usually pretty frugal when it comes to eating the sweet stuff but I always allow myself the luxury of sampling the cakes brought to the meeting. I have not been disappointed yet.

Following the delicious food, the meeting was called to order by the President Bill Brister to address several items of business the most important of which was the discussion on the sign up sheet that was being passed around. Bill and the rest of the Board members are actively seeking information from those in attendance about the subject matter for the meetings. The sign up sheet was designed to allow the members to indicate what they would like to see happen. There were a couple of other items one to do with volunteering for a project due to happen today, Tuesday and the other was about joining the National Koi society.

Tour Pamphlet

Our good friend B.J. Jenkins who is in charge of the Pond Tour made an announcement looking for members who would like to put their ponds on the tour this year. So far, she has only eight ponds, way short of last years total of twenty. If you would like to put your pond on display for all to see, contact B.J. at . It is a lot of fun and you get to meet some really nice people most of who are extremely complimentary of your efforts. Last year, there were 225 people who walked the five ponds at my house and I think I must have spoken to every one of them. OK, not really, but I did more talking than I normally do as it is easy to discuss or explain something that you are passionate about and people always have lots of questions. Last year was not the best of years for the vegetation as we were in the middle of 100 degree days and things had just not grown. Hopefully, this year will be better. I plan on putting my ponds on the tour again this year and have already made a good start with the preparation with lots of new plantings. If we don’t get a killer frost, we are going to have a head start with the growth especially with all of the rain. Even it you don’t have a pond or do not want to show it, B.J. is looking for volunteers for several different spots including manning the tables set up outside each pond site to welcome and collect the money and sell tickets. If you are interested, B.J. has a spot for you.

Following B.J’s passionate appeal, the meeting was divided into four separate groups meeting at different tables with the idea being that each group would hold a discussion based on any members questions. The groups were Pond Construction with Kal Tinsley acting as the host, Fish with Glen Hubenthal, Water and Filters with Ed McEnany and lastly Water Lilies and Plants with Darren Bayhi as the host. The idea being that any member might have a question and anyone who had an opinion could respond with the host having the final word.

I joined the  Pond Construction table and one of our group brought along a very interesting question about supplying water from the pond into to the bog and then back into the pond. It raised a lot of good discussion within the group and my only fear was that we supplied so much information we might have confused the poor guy. Another one of our group, Rick Perkal was in the process of collecting information to build his ponds and had many questions. Turns out that Rick and his wife spoke with me at last years Pond Tour when he stopped by my ponds. Small world.

Bill Brister conducted the drawing for the door prizes to round off the evening. When I left, a couple of the groups were still in heavy discussion. We have a large selection of books that members can borrow to help them with their research or just to plain enjoy the pictures. These are loaned out free to members.

Pond Society Library

The group idea will be a part of every meeting from here on out. So, if you have a question and can’t find an answer to a pond, fish, water or plant problem, come to the next meeting of the Austin Pond Society to be held on March 19 at 7:00 pm at Zilker Botanical Gardens.