Sunday, September 13, 2009

My father's house: pond, vegetable garden, ducks, geese, etc.

Visiting my parents each weekend offers a multitude of activities to observe and participate in. Below, I wanted to capture my father's evening routine to share with you. Each night around 6pm, with bucket of food in hand, he walks towards the duck/goose pen. With a whistle, the geese all know it's dinner time and start rushing in from every direction.

As you can see below, there is no pushing or shoving. The geese file in in an orderly line while my father stands at the gate. I find this totally hilarious.

Here are some of his white geese.

Here are the newer members of the family - the Chinese geese. He has a pair of brown and a pair of white. These geese are supposed to have great personalities. They follow you around the garden, are protective, and are smart too.

Here below, are the ducklings, almost at full size. These ducklings were hatched last month. Click here to see my photos of the hatchlings! You can just see some of the parents in the upper left hand corner of this photo below.

When the ducklings are done with their dinner and fresh water, they go immediately to their enclosed area in the pond. As most keepers of ducks know, many predators lurk after dark, but these lucky ducks have a large, safe, area to enjoy life.

Now that the ducks and geese are content, I turn around and check out the vegetable garden. This photo is taken from the back of the garden. You can see the ducks' area under the tree at the right of the photo. The property is 8 acres, and the pond is about 6 of those acres. This photo does a good job showing the width of the garden, but makes the length look shorter than it actually is.

A closer view of the Chinese squash growing on the trellis. Notice the bamboo - more on this later...

I'm taking a stroll down the left side of the garden. You'll see a sea of sweet potatoes below. These yield a firm white sweet potato, but my father actually grows these sweet potatoes for their greens (and pushes the sweet potatoes on me in the fall!)

Below, you see gourds on top and below the trellis. Some of the bigger ones are sitting on pots for support, and some are tied to the trellis with the orange tape.

In the photo below, my back is to the pond. There are watering cans in the blue bin, and you'll notice a hose running into the bin. My father has a connection of long hoses and pumps water from the pond to water his vegetables as needed.

Here's the view from the other side of the garden. You'll see mostly neat rows of Chinese greens and lots and lots of tomatoes straight ahead. Notice again the bamboo supports. See the willow trees in the background? This shades a little creek. My father has sectioned one area off and grows watercress in the creek. Notice also all the willow trees you see in all the photos in this post. They all come from one parent tree. My parents moved to this house in 1992. My father cut branches from the parent willow tree, stuck them in the mud and rooted all these "baby" trees.

In the area behind the shed, there are several fruit trees. Each summer, we get to eat fresh from the trees: apricots, Asian pears, standard pears, white peaches, purple plums, California (green and hard) plums, and now on the tree - dates.

Now I move towards the house and check on how the chrysanthemums are doing. The vegetable garden is behind the evergreens. Looks like many of the chrysanthemums are in bud and will be in bloom sometime in the next several weeks. I've got to talk to my father about that orange tape.

Here you see 'India Summer', the first bloom of the season. Many more interesting colors and shapes to come.

Here, a trio of plants tucked away in a corner. The red flowering plant was my father's day present to my father. Not a mandevilla, but I'm blanking on the name.

A closer pic of the pomegranate.

This cleome is literally growing out of a crack in the pavement next to the house.

Here's a much uglier photo. My father spent the day scooping out algae from the pond.

Across the pond is my father's friend/neighbor fishing. Here's what's in the water: bluegill, crabby, large-mouthed bass, sunfish, catfish, bullfrogs, turtles. My mother has made turtle stew, which is supposed to have some serious healing properties. We often have fresh fish (like literally just caught!) when I come to visit.

Here's my father, contemplating nature on the pier/deck he built by himself about 10 years ago. Or maybe he's thinking about what he needs to do next.

What is my 11 year old doing with the net? Give that kid a bucket and net and she's good to go for hours here.

Ok, so this is what she's doing today...

It does not take long for her to engage her grandfather in her activity. He's totally wrapped around her finger.

I walk towards them and to the right is the area of bamboo. My father uses this bamboo throughout his garden. It can be found staking tomatoes, made into a trellis, and in a variety of other places in the garden. My father has also made brooms with the bamboo, little cooking spoons, and other things that I'm forgetting at the moment. In the fall, he'll cut some down and put them through the chipper to make as much mulch as he could possibly need. In the spring, new shoots come up for eating. When the shoots are sticking up out of the ground about several inches high, my mom will literally kick them down. She'll cut them in half and take the heart out to eat in stir-frys, or to dehydrate for later.

To the left is this long path my parents exercise on. You can see it's getting well worn! At the very end, there is some very attractive black bamboo and a fairly young chestnut tree that is producing those delicious nuts.

I also wanted to add some earlier photos I've taken of the water lilies and lotuses, but can't find them at the moment.

In the photo below, where the water looks sort of choppy in the left half of the photo, is the large mass of deep pink water lilies. It's a spectacular sight in the mornings when they open. In the background, the blue/green horizontal strip of foliage is the mass of lotus flowers. It's a shame you can't see the depth/quantity of the flowers in this picture. Interestingly, after the gorgeous white lotus flower is done, the seedpod produces lotus "nuts" (seeds, I suppose) that can be eaten. Additionally, the seed pod itself can also be stewed and eaten. Wish I had some better photos. I'll look another time and post again. Hope you enjoyed visiting my father's garden!


  1. Wow Wendy this an amazing garden! Can be a public garden - so big and serene, so so beautiful and planted with so many good plants. Your father is really a garden genius. Now I know why you are so into gardening. Oh, you take turtle soup? I have taken it before but right now I am not so sure if I would take it again.

    I have really enjoyed reading this post very much. Well done!

  2. Wow what a beautiful place. That must take a lot of work to keep up. I really envy the stand of bamboo. I've always been afraid to plant it and have it take over my yard, but it is one of the most useful plants in existence.

  3. Wendy, this is really a lovely place. It is a lake garden, farm and nature's retreat all combined together. The willows are so lush and beautiful, it reminds me of those Chinese landscape paintings. This is a dream garden. Your father is certainly one great gardener and master of many trades. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour.

  4. What wonderful garden! No wonder you like visiting.

  5. How absolutely beautiful, and inspirational! You all are lucky you get to spend so much time there. Your father has created a work of art.

  6. Yes, it's definitely beautiful and could be an open garden! It's gorgeous all year round actually - in the winter, the pond freezes and is very pretty as well.

    There is a lot of upkeep. A few years ago, they thought about selling it and got a few interested people, but I think it'd be difficult to find the right person. The property is nice - and tucked into a rural but developing community (i.e. - wealthy people live around here). The house is very nice as well, so the whole thing costs some money. Then again, many homebuyers with this kind of money don't always have the desire to do their own upkeep - which involves a LOT. Either they need to do some serious work, or need some serious cash to just keep the yard up. My dad is now retired, but used to get up at the crack of dawn, work outside for 2 hours or so, go to work, come home around 5-6pm, and work again till dark. At night, he's out with his shotgun trying to shoot the muscrat that's trying to compromise the pump system in the pond. He does really enjoy all the work though, so it fits his needs.

    The bamboo has definitley expanded, and that requires a good deal of his attention to keep in order, but it's cool. Especially the endless mulch available!

    I could do without the turtle soup. My mom always has a pot of something yummy that I check as soon as I get there. One day I lifted the lid and found some turtle parts floating around and almost had a heart attack. My parents like it though. My mom is an amazing cook though, so I'm sure if you liked to eat turtles, you'd enjoy it. I however, prefer my turtles swimming in the pond.

  7. wowwwww! I go there once a week, and it has never looked so beautiful! The potograhy was amazing!!! I wish I was aloud to even touch her camra. :( (No I will not drop it, thank you very much!) ;)

  8. Have you noticed how gardeners tend to die with their wellies advanced ages? Also, from your post, I get such a feeling of continuity and love in your family. Please tell us that your father has decided not to sell.

  9. Wendy, no wonder you are a gardener. You were raised in an extraordinary garden. So well maintained. A true labour of love.
    I love the big chrysanthemums, we use these in bouquets this time of year at the flower shop. Clients really love them.

  10. Ricki, you're right. When I first started playing with perennials a couple years ago, I remember being really discouraged one night when someone pointed out that the best gardens are kept by very old folks - takes a lifetime of experience to be able to create something really great.

    Deborah - My parents actaully moved here the year I left for college, so I never really felt this was MY home. Though my dad has always gardened. I remember my garden at thehouse I grew up in very...sort of neat and nice of course, but definitely with more of an 80's feel. Lots of azaleas as foundation plants, etc. Not the texture, variety, and naturalness that is in his garden today. Give me a few weeks - wait till you see the rest of his chrysanthemums!!!

  11. Oh my goodness, no wonder you love to garden. What a place your parents have. The land is gorgeous. It is so nice your daughter has him to spend time with. And really nice he takes the time to spend with her. They could charge admission! Don't forget to get your address to me so I can ship out your Waistie Pouch. I sent you an email. Thanks for your great ideas! That was fun. Have a great day!

  12. I have seen ducks walking in a neat single file crossing the road. Motorists stopped their cars and waited patiently. Everybody just smiled! ... Such a neat place, Wendy! ~bangchik

  13. Hey Wendy, Thanks for the post on your parents place. What a nice garden they have and I love the insight into geese caretaking -very cool!

  14. Wow! I LOVED this post - the garden, the ducks, and the beautiful, sort of dreamy photos you took of them. Very impressive. It's so cool the way the geese file into their enclosure.

  15. Wendy, I can see where you get your love for nature from. Amazing property! And it's wonderful to see your kids embrace and learn from obviously wonderful grandparents/teachers. Beautiful post!

  16. A very tidy garden your father keeps. Love those ducks, very photogenic they are!

  17. Coulda swore I just saw Sigmund the Seamonster in one of those pictures. LOL.

  18. I enjoyed the adventure through your Dad's garden! It's so huge! And it includes a pond too! Wow! I wish I have that big a garden...however, I doubt I could cope with managing it. Please tell your dad that I love the pier that he built over the pond. And the willow trees look so good!

  19. What an incredible place! Your dad is one great gardener.

  20. What a great weekend with the birds and all. The experience is amazing. I like birds too.

  21. Really your father’s house is looking so beautiful and white geese are also looking too cute. Yes, this is true these lucky ducks have a large, safe, area to enjoy life.

  22. Definitely a very cool place to spend the weekends.

  23. This place is a paradise to me. Your father reminds me of my father, very resourceful. Unfortunately my father passed away when I was young if not, there will be so much for me to learn from him.
    Thank you for the tour. I can only dream of such place. Is your father taking in any disciple, lol.


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