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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What a Difference a Day Makes!

The polar vortex from the north came in on November 11 with a wind storm that packed quite a wallop!  The sound of the timber bamboo being slapped against the greenhouse was quite unnerving so I didn't stay out there long.  Fortunately, we didn't loose power and had no damage to any of our trees although there were a few trees down in the neighborhood.  Some pots blew over and a few things were broken though.

Here is the view from the back door before the storm.

And here it is the morning after.

Since the cold has settled in, things are looking a bit more brown now. 

On the night of the storm, something happened which caused the water level of the pond to lower quite a bit.  The electric fence lines that protect the pond from predators were covered in ice in spots and were also twirled around each other which may have caused the fence to short out.

Before the storm.


After.  I'd filled the pond back up but you may notice that while there is leaf debris on the surface of the water, there are no fish.  

The raccoons took advantage of the combination of low water and malfunctioning equipment and ate every last fish. After four years of no predator visits, the fish had grown large and friendly.  I'll miss their beautiful and comical presence in the pond.   It's best that we are done with fish until I drain and enlarge the pond.  No more shelves for water plants as they acted as steps down!  Straight sides all the way down to the bottom (6  - 8 feet.)   Can't blame the raccoons, they just did what it's their nature to do.  It was surprising that they chose the most miserable, windy night to do this.  If the wind hadn't been howling, we might have heard them at the pond.   So, what would you do, lave the pond as is for the sound and reflection of light, rework the pond to make it too deep for the raccoons/safer for fish or get rid of it altogether?   I could punch holes in the liner and make a bog garden or remove it, fill the hole with sand/gravel and plant agaves - maybe even use the rocks to make a crevice garden.  I'm leaning towards making a deeper, steeper pond.

On the bright side, the storm cleared the leaves from the pathways. 


37 comments:

  1. Alison has some photos of a pond on some tour that has a gorgeous wrought iron cover to keep out predators.

    If you dig a deeper pond, is there room in the garden to put the subsoil you remove?

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    1. I remember being at that garden with Alison; it was the Nichols garden in the San Francisco Bay area. I loved that ornamental grate there.

      The subsoil removed for the pond enlargement could be piled behind the pond and covered with rocks.

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  2. Oh, I'm so sad about your fish. Those rotten raccoons! I know they're doing what comes naturally, but...GRRRRRRR!

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    1. I wonder if the raccoons are seeking revenge since we took away their home above the garage ceiling? Oh well. My garden must be a hospitable place for wildlife as we had a second bat flying around in the house last night - poor thing.

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  3. Oh, I'm so sorry about the fish and your banana...it was a brutal storm here, too. I don't have the heart to take photos yet :(

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    1. It was an uneasy night! The banana leaves get frosted and cut off at some point every fall or winter but this is the first Raccoon sushi bar incident we've had in many years. I hope your garden damage isn't too severe!

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  4. Awww, dang! I'm sorry about the fish...

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    1. Thanks, Emily! Hope your garden wasn't damaged by the storm!

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  5. Sorry to hear about your fish but glad there was no major damage to the garden.

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    1. Thanks, Phillip. We were lucky that no trees fell on the house, us, the dogs, etc.

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  6. Oh Peter, I'm so sorry. Those little bastards!

    It's been a week and they're saying the cold is finally going to loosen it's grip on us here in Portland. Thursday night's low is actually supposed to be above freezing.

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    1. Thanks, pal! I can always count on you to help me hide the bodies! Oh well, it is what it is.
      Sounds similar here and with highs in the mid 50's. It'll seem balmy!

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  7. Oh, Peter, this is awful! You must be heat broken! I know I am, and I never met your fish.
    Although I don't have a water feature or a pond, I adore them in the garden. If you are leaning towards keeping the it and getting more koi, I think Jean has a wining idea (she often does). Get a beautiful wrought iron cover. You may not need the electrical fence at that point.

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    1. Thanks Chavliness, It was sad but only happened because the water level had gotten so low. However, with straight sides, even if the water got lower, the critters couldn't have gotten in. I'll think about a wrought iron cover though as the one at the Nichols garden was so beautiful.

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  8. That is awful. Yes I'd enlarge the pond and make it deeper. Give the fish room to escape.

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    1. That will be my spring break project this year!

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  9. Oh no!!! So sorry to see hear that :(( such a heart breaking sight. You're philosophical and calm about it but I can just imagine how you must have felt when you first spotted what has happened.

    You put in fish in your garden for a reason, you want them there and they are cherished pets. The suggestions of making the pond deeper has already innately come from you so I guess subconsciously the desire to restock the pond with fish again is there. Yes make the pond deeper and no shelves this time.

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    1. Thanks guys. At first I thought that the fish were hiding under the big flat rock that covers most of the bottom of the pond but alas, no. The goldfish were just there and ornamental but the koi all had names and were very friendly. Oh well I'll change the pond and try again.

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  10. Deeper pond. Those opportunistic 'coons must have thought the stars aligned for them that night. You'll miss not having fish so I'd re-do. Those howling winds are astonishing, aren't they? Sorry about the havoc.

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    1. Right you are! I'm not fond of the strong gusts making things go bump in the night! Oh well, the end of one thing is simply the beginning of another, right?

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  11. Awww, those raccoons make a mess of everything. This early cold front has made a run all the way south and now east so it's been a monster. You enjoy the pond and already had plans to rework it so deeper pond with a spot for the fish to escape sounds best.

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    1. I've heard that you're having quite a cold stretch in Texas as well. Hope your garden fares well! Deeper pond it is!

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  12. We had the same thing happen a couple of years ago and were surprised by how attached we had become to the fish. Now we just have the mosquito fish that are too tiny to be attractive to those opportunistic raccoons. We hear the little devils out on our deck at night bumping around looking for stray fruit. The deer at least leave a zone close to the house where they will not venture.

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    1. It is surprising how those silly things that come home in plastic bags of water find a way into our hearts! They're sure cute animals; too bad they're so mean!

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  13. How sad! Raccoons are such opportunists. Smart too, if they're able to detect that the electric fence was out of commission. As I recall there was a gardener at the last fling (or maybe the fling before) who had a decorative metal grate laid over her pond - that plus a deeper pond might be the ticket.

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    1. They certainly are clever! I'll work on the pond later in the year when it's nicer to be outside again.

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  14. Oh dear, your beautiful fish, how sad. The devastation that the storm caused must have been upsetting too. The only predator for our fish are the herons. How weird to have racoons trampling around in the garden. Do you ever see them?

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    1. We have herons too but, although they've landed in the garden before, they were put off by the electric fence and flew away. Raccoons are plentiful here in both urban and rural areas. We see them at dawn and dusk. Often if I work late in the garden in the summer there will be a family of them watching me. They are cute to watch, curious, and smart creatures but, like all wild things, they can become quite mean if they feel they are being threatened.

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  15. Oh no, such devastation. I am so sorry your fish became meals and the garden really took a beating.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. It was sad but in the larger scheme of things, we were very lucky not to have major damage and loss.

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  16. So sorry about your fish! Those raccoons must have been monitoring it on some kind of pondcam, waiting for precisely the right moment to strike. People who think raccoons are cute are woefully misguided, they are vicious animals.

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    1. Thanks, Jason. My garden is on the neighborhood path the raccoons trod frequently so they must have noticed the low water level. I heard one screaming a night or two before so perhaps it grabbed the fence while wet and shorted it out. They do look cute even though they are vicious animals!

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  17. Sorry your fish were dinner for the raccoons. Be careful with straight sided ponds. My geriatric dog drowned in our pond because he couldn't climb out. We filled ours in and have an overflowing pot as a water feature.

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  18. Amazing what killer cold waves do...brings back memories of most every winter 2005-2010 in the old homestead! So glad were in a milder period now, though this last week was a shocker...hopefully not a theme setting up! Racoons...

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  19. So sorry you lost your fish friends to those opportunistic bandits! -- as for future use, a bog garden full of pitcher plants maybe?

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  20. I'm late commenting, so you may not see this ... While I'm devastated over your pets and empathize more than you will ever know over raccoon depredation, I'm so glad that you did not hear them and go out while they were in their feeding frenzy. A woman in San Antonio did precisely that, the five raccoons in her yard attacked, and she was saved only because neighbors heard her screaming. An ambulance was required. Her legs were bitten and scratched severely. Raccoons can reach a very large size here in TX, in excess of 30 lbs., and can also be quite vicious! I'm so sorry for the loss of your beloved fish and I am glad that you were not harmed.

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  21. I had a raccoon problem in my pond, but Darwinism kicked in and all the stupid fish got eaten. I still have the smart ones. Two things I did to help the fish were to dig the pond to 3' in the middle, and to cover part of it with a footbridge. Both of these give the fish a place to get away if need be. It also doesn't hurt to have two hound dogs whose purpose in life is to hunt, maim and kill raccoons.It makes them think twice before entering the backyard.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.