Seasonal changes around the koi pond

Fall is starting

The beautiful Minnesota summer is winding down. Some of the plants are sporting more colorful orange and red leaves, the squirrels are in overdrive burying acorns and the temperatures have been decidedly cooler. The pond builder and I have been busy ordering stuff for our winter pool and garden. (The Amazon guy must love us…) My eight foot bamboo poles, waxed black twine and assorted plant coverings are ready for my yukizuri experiments. We ordered a new above ground pool for the garage and decided to start setting it up this weekend. It’s about 25% smaller since they don’t have a replacement liner for the frame we used the last two years. Apparently there might be a liner available in the UK and the other liners might be available later this winter. Well we can’t really wait on “maybes”.

Winter 2019-2020 home for the koi
Putting up the new winter pool

This pool will be home to 18 koi this winter. The RDF filter will need to be placed on a lower platform than last year and we will have to turn over more water, faster. What I do like about the smaller pool is that I can see into the pool more easily. Being 4’ 11” required me to use a step stool or bench to look into the last pool.

The smaller pool demanded a little more thought about our koi collection. As we head to winter, we always think about which koi do we really want to keep. Purchasing koi is always so much fun and hopeful. However, things happen. A pectoral fin just doesn’t develop, coloring falls apart, the koi turns out to be a male or something… Some koi keepers will sell koi, some will put them up for their local club auction or just give them away. Pond builder and I love to donate our koi to the Normandale Japanese Garden. Such a pretty local garden with a large pond and a very nice caretaker. Not only do my koi get to live in a beautiful spot, I can continue to visit them. We put three 22” koi into the Japanese garden pond this morning. It was a nice morning to transition them, not much water temperature difference and not too hot outside. Two of the three koi found the rest of the koi pretty quickly under the waterfall. Apparently the koi come to the waterfall area each morning for a feeding. It was nice to see some of the koi that we donated.

Normandale Japanese Garden, my third pond 😄
Swim away…
Feeding the koi at Normandale Japanese Garden

The changing temperatures also means the food should be changed out. I’ve packed up and put away JPD Shori Growth and have only a little JPD  Yamato color left. I created mixed bags of floating and sinking JPD Fuyufuji, an all year food. The koi have been excited to eat something different but they definitely favor the sinking pellets. I also have JPD Fujizakura on hand, but I may not use that until spring. I always order large pellets but a friend of mine asked “why don’t you use the medium pellets?” Did not have a good answer. I just assumed, bigger koi, bigger food. Might try to experiment with pellet size later this winter. Just like my household pantry, I love  organized food.

Repacking JPD koi into smaller segments

We still have some fun koi activities going on in our lives. Next weekend is the St. Louis Koi Show. We’re taking few koi to show and they are living in the lower pond where I can more easily control their feeding. On Friday morning, we’ll be able to bag and pack quickly for an early start. One of our designated show koi was a real pill in this pond for the last few weeks. I think she’s overly sensitive to change. She did not like moving into the smaller pond and decided to go on a little hunger strike.  We ended up putting her back into the larger, upper pond where she looks much happier. The temperatures are much warmer in St. Louis so I don’t think she will show that well anyways.

Waiting for the koi show

In between koi and gardening, I have started reading a book that my daughter gave me – “The Sakura Obsession: The Incredible Story of the Plant Hunter Who Saved Japan’s Cherry Blossoms” by Naoko Abe.  Here’s the Google description which is far more succinct than I can provide:

Collingwood Ingram, known as ‘Cherry’ for his defining obsession, was born in 1880 and lived until he was a hundred, witnessing a fraught century of conflict and change. After visiting Japan in 1902 and 1907 and discovering two magnificent cherry trees in the garden of his family home in Kent in 1919, Ingram fell in love with cherry blossoms, or sakura, and dedicated much of his life to their cultivation and preservation. On a 1926 trip to Japan to search for new specimens, Ingram was shocked to see the loss of local cherry diversity, driven by modernisation, neglect and a dangerous and creeping ideology. A cloned cherry, the Somei-yoshino, was taking over the landscape and becoming the symbol of Japan’s expansionist ambitions. The most striking absence from the Japanese cherry scene, for Ingram, was that of Taihaku, a brilliant ‘great white’ cherry tree. A proud example of this tree grew in his English garden and he swore to return it to its native home. Multiple attempts to send Taihaku scions back to Japan ended in failure, but Ingram persisted. Over decades, Ingram became one of the world’s leading cherry experts and shared the joy of sakura both nationally and internationally. Every spring we enjoy his legacy. ‘Cherry’ Ingram is a portrait of this little-known Englishman, a story of Britain and Japan in the twentieth century and an exploration of the delicate blossoms whose beauty is admired around the world.

After reading a few chapters I’m thinking about looking for some cherry trees to bring back to Minnesota next weekend. Our koi show is at a nursery so I’m sure I could find a few. Most cherry trees live in zone 5-8 and I live in 4A.  Wondering if I could protect them enough over the winter? ? Cherry trees are a lot cheaper to experiment with than koi 😂….