Rambling tale of plants and ponds and dreams.

noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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

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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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

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noonamah, Australia

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

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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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

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noonamah, Australia

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

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noonamah, Australia

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

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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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

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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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

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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

November 2007, everything is awaiting new wet season rains.

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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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

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noonamah, Australia

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

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noonamah, Australia

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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noonamah, Australia

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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Hillsborough , NC(Zone 7a)

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.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Very neat!

Wells, TX(Zone 8b)

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

noonamah, Australia

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.

Barnesville, GA(Zone 7b)

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.

Colorado Springs, CO(Zone 6a)

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

noonamah, Australia

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."

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