Saturday, September 16, 2006

Writing beside the pond

I've written very little lately about the pond. After the initial flush of bloom from the waterlilies and other plants, early in the season, I haven't spent much time out there or posted very many pics. I feed the fish most days and occasionally scoop out the fish poop that tends to accumulate in areas where the water doesn't circulate well, but other than that, the pond has pretty much taken care of itself this summer.

I did need to intervene during the heatwave in mid-July when the overly hot water threatened to boil my pretty goldfish and slimly algae covered the pebble beach. An afternoon with the muck-vack and daily water changes kept that disaster at bay. The frogs have been fairly active and vocal, especially the tree frog who hung around for a month or so. Before he vanished I was finding him calling each evening from inside one of the slats of the pvc fence that surrounds the pond - he found a spot with excellent accoustics. There have been very few dragonflies this summer, which is disappointing because I enjoy watching them so much. No dragonfly nymphs either; I've spent many hours in past summers rescuing them (or so I imagined) from inside the skimmer net where they seem to prefer to set up shop. I never got around to planting any annuals along the pond's edge as I usually do and never even fertilized the waterlillies. Despite that, the new tropical, purple in the opening photo, is still going strong, with two blooms on most days. Before long I'm going to need to figure out how to overwinter it; if anyone nearby would be willing to rent out a small space in their greenhouse it might just continue to bloom through the winter. We planted new fountain grasses at the back of the waterfall a few weeks ago to replace the switch grasses that were there. Switch grass is pretty early in the season before it flops over and looks like it was trampled by an elephant.

One morning this week my husband startled a young black-crowned night heron from beside the pond. Leaving for work before it was fully light out, he called me from bed to bring my binoculars. Sleepy-eyed, I found it perched clumsily in one of the holly trees at the edge of the yard. We haven't seen it since and there don't seem to be any fish missing, so I can happily add this new bird to the yard list. I hope this first heron to visit the pond doesn't mean that others will follow; while I won't begrudge them fishing rights, I have become fond of some of my fish. Maybe this wasn't the first visit and explains the occasional fish that has gone missing over the years.

I was poking around this afternoon in the bog garden, wondering over some goldenrod that is growing wild despite the soggy soil, when I found this black and yellow garden spider, commonly called the writing spider. I'd never seen one of these before and was happy to find it there, in its web, overlooking the pond. In the web were two carefully wrapped skippers, caught unawares on their way to or from the joe-pye weed, still blooming nearby.

An interesting bit of folklore about writing spiders says that they can be used to cast a spell on an enemy. All one need do is shout the person's name at the spider, after which the spider will write the name in its web, and misfortune will follow for the intended victim of the spell. You might also try asking the spider the name of your future husband or wife, and the spider will oblige by writing the name or initial of your future mate in the zig-zag portion of its web, called the stabilimentum.

8 comments:

Michelle said...

Wow. Your pond looks more gorgeous everytime you post pics.

I am ashamed to say that other than tending to the fish (I lost 3 koi 2 weeks ago) I have done little with the plants. They are overgrown and need to be trimmed.

I love the addition of the fountain grasses. Most of the pics you have shared have been from the pebble beach angle. It's nice to get a different view.

How much do you charge for landscaping? :))))

samtzmom said...

How very beautiful Laura! Love the garden spider too. They are so big and colorful. Thanks for sharing snipets of your lovely creation.

madcap said...

Your pond is lovely. We don't have writer spiders here, so I'd never heard those stories. Thanks for telling!

Sandy said...

The pond is beautiful! Love that grass in the front. Hope we see more of it.
I think I took a shot of that same kind of spider this morning, haven't looked at it yet on the screen. I did shout a few things (!*#!#*) when I got my feet wet, hope I didn't curse myself!

Andrew said...

You never know where you will stumble across information. I had one of those spiders outside my office window for a couple of weeks and didn't know what kind it was ... but now I do! Thanks.

Andrew
To Love, Honor and Dismay

jemkagily said...

Laura,
Where are the writing spiders the rest of the year? They must be *somewhere*, but I only ever see them in late August/September.
The pond is swooningly beautiful!
Wendi

Pam/Digging said...

I just found your blog through Roundrock Journal, which I found through the blog meme carried along by Prairie Point. I love your pond photo, and your nature observations were interesting to read about. Thanks for sharing.

LauraHinNJ said...

Thanks, Michelle. I sort of like the different view also. This way you can't see all the weeds growing around the bog garden! What happened to your koi? Heron? Sick?

Thanks samtzmom - I was happy to find that spider.

Thanks, Madcap!

Oh Sandy - hope you didn't curse yourself either! Honestly I think that story is made up by big brothers and neighborhood bullies.

;-)

Thanks for stopping by Andrew.

Wendi thanks! I found two little spiders earlier this summer in the goldenrod that looked like teeny-tiny versions of this one. I read that the hatchlings overwinter in the egg case made by the female, so maybe it takes all summer for them to grow big enough to notice?

Thanks for your comment Pam - glad you enjoyed the pics!