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Water Gardens: Rambling tale of plants and ponds and dreams.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
1:50 PM

Post #6326565

This is the story about a dream, an elusive plant, a plant's long journey, a continuing story.

It all started many years ago with an obsession of mine to get a Giant Swamp Taro, Cyrtosperma chamissonis. For years I drew a blank, hardly anyone had even heard of it. Then one day in a nursery I saw a small plant that resembled it. I asked and the answer actually was probably whatever it took to sell me the plant.

Anyway, soon my hot little hand was on that plant and the adventure began. Like so many of my projects I jump in and then try to decide what I have to do and how to do it. In this case I had a water plant but not the suitable place to put it.

As it turns out, I have a dam in my garden (garden edge). Water was running off the lawn and eroding the side. The dam doesn't hold water all year. Late dry season it's dry. Had been toying with the idea of putting in a pond to regulate the water flow into the dam, and at the same time to have a permanent pool with waterplants and fish.

So February of 2005 I began digging the start of a pond. The photo is the first bit of hole with a Colocasia esculenta in the foreground, behind it my new Typhonodorum disguised as what I thought was my Giant Swamp Taro.
dg-noonamah-050220-66

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
1:52 PM

Post #6326578

Early March 2005 not a lot of progress, but the drainage from the pond to the dam was installed.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
1:55 PM

Post #6326589

Jump to September 2005, as the temporary measure the hole has been lined with some builder's black plastic. So all the plants settle down while I get to thinking about the next stage of this enterprise.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
1:57 PM

Post #6326600

Jump again to mid April 2006 (I don't think fast) and the plants have made themselves very comfortable, and the jungle decides it's a nice spot to hang around.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
1:59 PM

Post #6326608

And in early June 2006 my Typhonodorum (disguised as a Giant Swamp Taro) looking like it belongs.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:01 PM

Post #6326616

August 2006, who would suspect that this happy little setting would one day undergo major upheaval.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:03 PM

Post #6326627

September 2006 The rope's not there to stop it getting away, I assure you it was more than happy to be there (Disclaimer: There was no cruelty to any plants during the photographing of this story. What happened later was "for their own good!")

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:05 PM

Post #6326631

But it was that fateful September 2006 that my brain finally gave birth to plans for the next phase. My temporary pond site was also my permanent pond site - Catch 22!. What I needed was another temporary pond so I could empty my first temporary pond.

The site of the new one was in my swamp, also non-perennial. Wet season it floods and becomes a 'real swamp' and my new temporary new pond would become incorporated into it. So I dug out a hole before the rains came and placed a pond liner into it.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:06 PM

Post #6326640

So, still early September 2006, the Typhonodorum (disguised as a Giant Swamp Taro) made a rather undignified trip by wheelbarrow to its new temporary home.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:08 PM

Post #6326651

The roots of the plant had gone through the crate it was in so I decided to leave it like that.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:13 PM

Post #6326689

Mid December 2006, getting there - slowly. Progress on digging out the now empty old temporary pond soon to be new permanent pond.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:15 PM

Post #6326696

Mid December 2006, starting to pour the foundations of the pond, steel reinforced 100mm thick slab of concrete.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:16 PM

Post #6326705

Meantime, late December 2006 the Typhonodorum (disguised as a Giant Swamp Taro) is flowering away.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:18 PM

Post #6326722

Late December 2006, rocks going up for the sides of the pond.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:19 PM

Post #6326737

Early January 2007, rains start to delay proceedings. Good for allowing the concrete to cure slowly, not good if there's a downpour.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:21 PM

Post #6326752

Mid January 2007, the Colocasia and Azolla seem well settled in the swamp pond.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:23 PM

Post #6326761

A few days later the swamp floods over the temporary pond (#2) and the Typhonodorum (disguised as a Giant Swamp Taro) starts to flower again.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:25 PM

Post #6326780

Mid April 2007 and the rains are still preventing further progress on the pond.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:26 PM

Post #6326793

Mid June 2007 and the water in the swamp has disappeared. But the plants look happy in their well watered corner.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:28 PM

Post #6326806

November 2007, everything is awaiting new wet season rains.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:29 PM

Post #6326817

And I decide I'd better pull the finger out and get moving on the pond before the rains flood me out again causing more delays.

The centre part of the pond was to be deeper. So, at this stage the sides needed to flare out to also give a greater surface area. The old concrete work was cleaned with acid and more reinforcing steel was put in for strength.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:31 PM

Post #6326830

Late December 2007 the sides are coming up in the planned position. The biggest dilemma was how the edges would be finished.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:33 PM

Post #6326836

By early February 2008 I'd decided the lawn edge of the pond would need to be reinforced to take foot traffic.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:35 PM

Post #6326843

While the edging was still far from finished time had come to put in the "soil". First a thick layer of bentonite clay, then some cracker dust (rock dust). On that I placed decomposing leaves and vegetation from the dam. Finally some clay soil and some more vegetation. The photo shows the bentonite clay in the bottom of the pond.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:36 PM

Post #6326851

A month later, March 2008 upheaval hit the inhabitants of the temporary pond in the swamp. Water levels in the swamp were still high as the wet season wasn't over.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:38 PM

Post #6326856

By this stage the Typhonodorum (whose disguise as a Giant Swamp Taro had now pretty well been blown) has assumed immovable qualities - far to heavy for me to lift. Tractor to the rescue!

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:40 PM

Post #6326864

Hanging from the tractor made it easier to trim the roots and leaves, and to cut away the crate it had grown right through. It's evident the plant had falled over, and then grown up again.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:42 PM

Post #6326868

Couldn't drive the tractor through the garden up to the pond so the final bit was with the wheelbarrow, and then manually wrestling it into place.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:43 PM

Post #6326878

Finally, by early March 2008 the Typhonodorum, no longer disguised as the Giant Swamp Taro although identity still remained a mystery, was in its home, even if looking a little worse for wear.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:45 PM

Post #6326884

August 2008, unhappy memories faded, things returning to normal, even though the pond edging isn't finished.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:47 PM

Post #6326891

December 2008, the Typhonodorum, still a mystery identity plant, looking like nothing had happened and flowering away happily.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:49 PM

Post #6326903

February 2009, the now identified Typhonodorum lindleyanum sitting in flood waters which were inundating both pond and lawn, from a wet season deluge.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 27, 2009
2:51 PM

Post #6326908

Mid February 2009, the Typhonodorum happily flowering away. The story really hasn't ended yet. There's still the pond edging to complete - one day in my 'spare time'.

And by the way, I'm still looking for a Giant Swamp Taro, Cyrtosperma chamissonis.

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Braveheartsmom
Hillsborough , NC
(Zone 7a)

March 27, 2009
3:54 PM

Post #6327247

Oh Tropic, what a saga! I really enjoyed your tale of the pond(s)! How wonderful that you took pictures all the way along to share with us! What an undertaking - it looks wonderful!

Aloha, Jen.
sunnyg
San Francisco Bay Ar, CA
(Zone 9b)

March 27, 2009
4:36 PM

Post #6327438

Very neat!
blkraven2
Wells, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 27, 2009
11:59 PM

Post #6329076

such a saga.but with a happy almost ending, After all the edge of the pond isnt finished isnt finished so who know what might happen if you do find a Giant Swamp Taro, Cyrtosperma chamissonis. lol
tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 28, 2009
6:42 AM

Post #6330369

Thanks Jen, Sunny and Blkraven. I've found that I can keep (digital) records better than a diary. Anything that happens, the camera comes out to record it. Helps me to keep track of things like where I've buried irrigation lines, etc. Now if I ever get hold of a Giant Swamp Taro I'm going to need a new pond for it. But of course, there'll be a big temporary one to start with. I can use the tractor to dig it out in the swamp during the dry season.
bugme
Barnesville, GA
(Zone 7b)

March 28, 2009
10:59 AM

Post #6330543

Tropic, I so enjoyed your tale of the unidentified mystery plant and the accompanying pictures. You have a gift of adding humor to your telling and it really adds to it.
art_n_garden
Colorado Springs, CO
(Zone 6a)

March 28, 2009
2:14 PM

Post #6331003

Thank you for sharing the story! I really enjoyed reading it and looking at all your pictures. Your concrete work is pretty darn good, too. :) Susanne
tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 29, 2009
11:50 AM

Post #6334569

Glad you enjoyed it bugme and art_n_garden. I enjoyed relating the story and hope it gives encouragement to others. Seeing me bumbling and bungling my way through this, taking years, should inspire others to think "If that numbskull managed to finally do it, then so can I."
Elfs_Garden
( Kris) Smiths, AL
(Zone 8a)

March 29, 2009
11:22 PM

Post #6337332

WOW!! I enjoyed your story and it does offer hope that I can get my mess looking good one day. Thanks
LouC
Desoto, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 30, 2009
12:09 AM

Post #6337579

Now that you have practiced and know just how to do it, I need my pond enlarged.

Can give directions to Texas at a moments notice. smirk.

Christi
tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

March 31, 2009
12:46 AM

Post #6342597

Elfs_Garden, as Confucius said, 'Every long journey starts with a single step'.

LouC, just drop the air ticket in the mail and I'll be there! Have passport, will travel! :O)
LouC
Desoto, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 31, 2009
2:20 AM

Post #6342986

Oh, tropic, if I only could. I would have visitors from all over the world...ALL THE TIME.

I can furnish bed and bath and all you can eat.

LouC
tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

April 1, 2009
9:17 AM

Post #6348603

LouC, "... bed and bath and all you can eat." You've convinced me, but I might have to walk. Not sure how long I can hold my breath under water though. ;O)
LouC
Desoto, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 1, 2009
1:48 PM

Post #6349191

hahahaha. Just keep it in mind. Door's always open.

LouC
tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

January 14, 2010
11:18 PM

Post #7462415

I know I'm resurrecting an old thread here, but I did finally find my Giant Swamp Taro, Cyrtosperma merkusii (formerly C. chamissonis). This is it bursting out of its pot. I'm in the process of building a new pond for it but the wet season beat me. It's going to have to be patient for a while.

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mothermole
Deer Park, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 15, 2010
12:04 AM

Post #7462615

I really enjoyed your story-what a lot of work putting all those photos in there. How big is your plot of land? It looks like you have a jungle. I had to look up your town to find out you were near Darwin. I never thought it was so lush in that area (I was wrong . . . ) I used to live in a suburb of Sydney in 1985.
bsavage
Dolores, CO
(Zone 5b)

January 15, 2010
1:13 AM

Post #7462825

I too have enjoyed reading about and seeing your progress! So glad you resurrected the thread, I hadn't seen it the first time. Your new giant swamp taro looks very beautiful! Keep sharing...

Brenda
LouC
Desoto, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 15, 2010
1:49 AM

Post #7462921

How things change in a short time. Last posted here April 1st and on April 14th my firstborn grandson drowned at age 25. I will never, ever recover.

LouC
dgal
Baytown, TX
(Zone 9a)

January 15, 2010
2:26 AM

Post #7463020

So sorry for your loss, LouC. We lost our son at age 35 to a very unexpected heart attack. It's been just over four years, but still miss him mightily.

Tropicbreeze, I admire your patience. It seems I want it and I want it now! Just like putting the water in my pond yesterday before I had lined the interior with rock. Now, I have to do it the hard way.

Don
LouC
Desoto, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 15, 2010
3:09 PM

Post #7464109

I'm sorry, I should not have posted such on this thread.
tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

January 15, 2010
4:08 PM

Post #7464273

No worries LouC, it's something that never really goes away. You learn to cope with it, but never get used to it.

Mothermole, it is quite a bit different to Sydney. We have a very distinct dry season, and also a very distinct wet season. Our rainfall is very heavy over the time it falls. But for the dry season I have bore water for irrigation. I have a brother living in Sydney.

Brenda, I usually get obsessed with one project. before it's finished I'm onto something else. So many half done jobs. The Giant Swamp Taro get up to around 5 metres (16.4 feet) .

Don, I know that feeling, I lost a very close friend and now and again it comes back to me. It's possible to live with it, not possible to forget.

But don't ask me how many times I've had to do things over again, I'd be too embarrassed to say.

cathy166
Stamford, CT
(Zone 6b)

January 16, 2010
8:26 PM

Post #7467827

Tropic, I just saw your thread for the first time and enjoyed it greatly.

Lou and dgal, never be concerned about your posting so long as it is not an insult. Your words spoke from the (still-broken) heart, and you've got lots of friends. I'm sorry for your losses.

Tropic, I always believed that if you were persistent, you'd find that giant swamp taro. I've grown a new affection for these water lovers. They are happy in the shade and produce beautiful colors with a little sunlight. Keep us apprised.

PS North America has been pretty darned cold, so many of us wish we were there with you.
tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

January 17, 2010
11:41 AM

Post #7469407

Thanks Cathy. The Giant Swamp Taro quest started a long time back and although I can now see a very bright light at the end of the tunnel, it won't be complete until the new pond is finished. I've been hearing about the freeze. Hopefully it's going to keep warming up from now on.
jlp222
Hammond, LA
(Zone 8b)

January 19, 2010
11:12 AM

Post #7475538

Tropic, I read your thread a few weeks ago. Congratulations on finding your Taro! Your property is beautiful!

Lou, I understand how you related the date and your grandson. Don't be sorry for sharing. I wouldn't even know what to begin to say about your loss ~

Jennifer
mothermole
Deer Park, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 24, 2010
1:46 AM

Post #7489992

Lou C. and Dgal: I am sorry to hear of your individual losses. I can't imagine . . .
bellieg
Virginia Beach, VA

March 24, 2013
4:48 AM

Post #9459787

I enjoyed reading the thread. Any recent pictures?

Belle
tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

April 12, 2013
6:40 PM

Post #9481950

Belle, the pond has been through a few changes. I put some Thalia geniculata in it and it took off in top gear almost filling the pond in no time. Quite a job to get it out. Even now I still get seedlings coming up around the place. Removing it opened up the pond again. The Typhonodorum has never looked back. It flowers regularly but I ran out of people to give seeds/seedlings to. So now I cut the immature seed pods off and compost them.

The surrounding plants are doing quite well. Everything is so tall now that the pond looks tiny by perspective.

1st Photo. A front view. The timber leaning at the back is a fallen tree propped on another tree. Still have to work out how to get it out of there. The problem with rainforests, always some tree falling.

2nd photo. From the back edge towards the front. On the left Lasia spinosa, a water aroid. Bottom left Carpentaria acuminata, a palm. To the right Typhonodorum lindleyanum, the "owner" of the pond.

3rd photo. Bit further back, looking through (over) the foliage at the back of the pond towards the pond. The centre plant is the Lasia spinosa.

4th photo. Cyrtosperma merkusii, Giant Swamp Taro, the original purpose for starting this pond. It's in the background of the pond in soggy soil.

5th photo. Urospatha grandis, another water aroid. It's in a pot on the edge to stop it from getting out of control and easier to reposition if needed.

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tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

April 12, 2013
6:55 PM

Post #9481958

Some more of the plants in the pond. I'll post more later.

1st photo. Alocasia cucullata. Not a large growing Alocasia which likes to sit in water. The top of the pot is out of the water.

2nd photo. Alocasia macrorrhizos 'Variegata' is a very nice "dramatically" variegated aroid that grows best sitting in water. This one is still a bit small, they get up to about shoulder height.

3rd photo. Cyrtosperma johnstonii in centre foreground. Another water aroid, related to Giant Swamp Taro.

4th photo. Cyrtosperma johnstonii has an amazing petiole (leaf stem)

5th photo. Cyrtosperma johnstonii flower.

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bellieg
Virginia Beach, VA

April 15, 2013
2:32 AM

Post #9484325

Lovely!! Lovely!!

Where did you buy the swamp taro?

I collect alocasia Colocasia and I will google swamp taro and see if I can buy them .

Thank you for sharing.

Belle
tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

April 18, 2013
5:30 PM

Post #9489007

Thanks Belle. A good person to check with for Cyrtosperma species is Rachel. She's often on the tropical plants and aroids forums. I know she has the Cyrtosperma johnstonii growing (and the Lasia spinosa). There'll probably be some on Ebay too. Here I got them from a specialist nursery, Equatorial Exotics, in Cairns. But they are becoming a bit more readily available now.
bellieg
Virginia Beach, VA

April 18, 2013
5:59 PM

Post #9489038

I checked on Ebay and there are none.
A lady on DG has them in her trade list but i do not like to trade. I prefer to buy.
tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

April 19, 2013
12:51 AM

Post #9489254

If you check with Rachel she would be able to tell you where she got hers from, she's quite helpful. Another person often on the aroid forum is Dave (tropicalnut777). He's just starting out on Cyrtosperma and is great on tracking things down. They are available over there, but difficult to find.
cathy166
Stamford, CT
(Zone 6b)

April 19, 2013
6:41 AM

Post #9489427

That swamp taro should not be hard to come by. I can get them here at a nursery, but later in the season (we get cold here, up north). A garden center with a section of wter plants shuold have it.
bellieg
Virginia Beach, VA

April 19, 2013
10:23 AM

Post #9489653

Tropicbreeze,
How do I get int ouch with Rachel.

Thank you Cathy. Can you d-mail me when you see any?

thanks,

Belle
tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

April 19, 2013
3:39 PM

Post #9489956

Look up my Lasia spinosa thread on the aroid forum. Click on her name and you'll get the link to her Dmail. Dave, tropicalnut777, is also on that thread.

Also, when you're looking around be careful on identity. As mentioned on this thread above, I was initially sold a Typhonodorum lindleyanum as a "Giant Swamp Taro". At the nursery they really didn't know what it was but thought it looked like it could be called a Giant Swamp Taro so they called it that. The "real one" is Cyrtosperma merkusii.

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