Water Gardening

Water Gardening

Part of Ep. 803 Gourds, Ponds and Herbs

Travel to the home of Fred and Kathe Voll in Fitchburg, WI.  Fred and Kathe have created a lush water garden where a swimming pool used to be.

Premiere date: Aug 26, 2000

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
I first heard about this garden when I was buying sausages at Bavarian Sausage Kitchen in Fitchburg. I've been shopping there for years. And for years, the people have been saying, "You've got to see the garden of our owners." Well, recently, I saw a photo and I realized we all needed to take a closer look. This is Fred and Kathe Voll, of Verona, and this is their garden. Join me as we take a tour of this lovely backyard.

Shelley:
Fred, tell me about the pond. What was here originally?

Fred:
Well, Shelley, there was a swimming pool.

Shelley:
This whole thing?

Fred:
The whole thing, all the way over there, including on the outside of this and all the way back there.

Shelley:
A huge pool, then. Okay.

Fred:
We had actually enough swimming, so we decided let's just close it off and see what happens. So, we filled it up with 38 truckloads of dirt.

Shelley:
Wow.

Fred:
Oh, this is for you, Shelley, I forgot all about that. Anyway, we filled it up and we started seeding it. And we sprinkle it with water and we mowed it.

Shelley:
So, you made this into a big lawn.

Fred:
It looked ugly. We had this great big lawn there with nothing. So, what can you do with it.

Shelley:
So, what did you do?

Fred:
I said to Kathe, you want to play tennis? Which none of us ever played tennis. So, she says, you know I saw a nice picture with a pool with fish in it. And you know, it looks good, take a look at it. So, I looked at it. And I went out here with a water hose and laid this all out.

Fred:
After we laid it out, I took a look at some magazines I got from Germany, and how deep we need, what's the freezing point of the water for the fish. So, we decided to go down about 45-50 inches.

Shelley:
Wow. So, it's fairly deep, here.

Fred:
Yeah, it's pretty nice and deep. So, we dug her out. And there was more work than I really wanted to do with a pick and shovel.

Shelley:
So, you did the work?

Fred:
Well, yeah, I called some help once and a while, you know. But in two days, we had it out. I took a nice roofing liner that they use on the regular flat-top houses. And we laid it out, and we lined it up. And we put some stones around it. And here we had a pool.

Shelley:
So, you're telling me that this was a big swimming pool. You filled the pool in and then you dug it up again a year later?

Fred:
It wasn't even a year later. It was from the fall until the next spring. You know, first grass mowing was it. It just didn't look right.

Shelley:
Well, it looks beautiful now.

Fred:
Yes, well, with the water in and the fish and my wife put some knowledge in with the flowers. You know, she's good at that. That's her department.

Shelley:
So, you did all of the digging and all of the construction, then, for this?

Fred:
Yes, yes. I'm the soil scientist, okay. And I take orders. Okay. I take orders, so she did all of this. She's great on the flowers. Look around. Look at all the plants she does.

Kathe:
We have a beautiful Maltese Cross here. The bright red color.

Shelley:
This time of year, they have such beautiful, almost orange-red. It looks just gorgeous. Now, do you and Fred work together as far as the designing and planting and things like that?

Kathe:
Oh, yeah. I mean, without Fred, I couldn't do it. He's the muscle behind all this. I do the planning and the planting.

Shelley:
So, you're the gardener.

Kathe:
I'm the gardener. Right, Fred does all the shoveling and the hard work. But like I said, without him, I couldn't do it. He's a good helper.

Shelley:
So, you've got a mixture of perennials. You've got shrubs. Now, we've got Spirea here.

Kathe:
A peppermint one. Some Daylilies, Stella de Oro.

Shelley:
Is the re-bloomer?

Kathe:
Yes, they bloom all summer long.

Shelley:
It comes back again and again, doesn't it.

Kathe:
Right, they're very nice. You get your money's worth out of them. And we've got some of the prairie flowers, White Coneflowers, some Malva.

Shelley:
Now, these Coral Bells are just beautiful.

Kathe:
Yes, very delicate and beautiful in color. I have to put a support around them, because they hang. And when Fred mows the lawn, anything that hangs, he mows over.

Shelley:
So, he really is not the plant person.

Kathe:
He's not gentle with flowers.

Shelley:
This has turned out beautiful. And you picked all the plants yourself?

Kathe:
Right. All perennials. There's no annuals in here.

Shelley:
The plants in the pond look so wonderful, too. The lilies, you've got in that end. And you've got other things, too.

Kathe:
We've got a ledge around the pond, which we filled with marginal plants. You've got your Cattails, your pickerel, with the blue flower over there. They only tolerate about two and a half inches of water.

Shelley:
So, they stay on the ledge in the shallow.

Kathe:
All year long. In the winter time, too. Nothing comes out.

Fred:
Well, we weren't sure the first year. And I was a little, you know, I took them out the first year. And that was a job, because they're heavy.

Shelley:
Yeah, I would think so.

Fred:
You know, they're potted in the bottom and you have to lift them out. And I took them down to the sausage kitchen. We have a big cooler, so we kept them in the cooler and it was fine. The next following year, I didn't do it, and there you go.

Shelley:
And you said this is about six years, so they've been doing great over winter.

Fred:
They're doing fine.

Shelley:
What about the fish?

Fred:
I don't have to do anything. I go in there, maybe, you know, once every two weeks. It really doesn't take any work at all.

Shelley:
So, it's fairly low maintenance, too.

Fred:
Very low. We have a good filtering system. And the fish are happy, so am I.

Shelley:
Do the fish survive over the winter, then?

Fred:
Yes.

Shelley:
Really?

Fred:
Yes, they slow down. They don't eat. When the water goes down to 48, I don't feed them anymore.

Shelley:
You know, I have to ask you, do you feed them something special? I noticed them following us around the pond like puppies.

Fred:
Yes. Spaghetti.

Shelley:
They eat spaghetti?

Fred:
They love the spaghetti. They love rice. They like bread balls, you know, like that white bread you have. Sometimes it gets chewy. You put it in, they just love it.

Shelley:
So, these are just spoiled rotten fish.

Fred:
Yes, spoiled rotten, that's right.

Shelley:
Well, they have a beautiful home. Thank you for sharing this garden with us. It's really lovely, Fred.

Fred:
Thank you. Nice having you up here.

Shelley:
Thanks.

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