Autumn in Texas

mn-apple-orchard-fall-0098-thinThe sun has come out at last
and the rain is now in the past
as we wait for things to dry
enough to be outside a while.

Everything is wonderfully green
with leaves perked up with a last fling
before they turn to a shade of brown
to lie dormant as winter closes things down.

I really like this time of year
as Nature begins to take a rest
from making things grow green and tall
for only she knows what’s best.

At least here in Texas, all is not lost
we can still work outside throughout the year
tending our gardens and our ponds
getting ready for Spring which will soon be here.

 

Members Only Event

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On Saturday, May 9th members of the Austin Pond Society are invited on a treasure hunt in which we will visit two separate ponds, visit one of our wonderful sponsors with a plant and garden center and end up at another members house for hot dogs.

Below is the plan.

We will meet at 12:45 in the Planet Fitness/ Good Will parking lot at the intersection of 290 West and Highway 71 otherwise know as the “Y at Oak Hill”.

Look for Jeannie who will be somewhere in the parking lot for your first clue. As this is not a race, plan on leaving from the parking lot around 1 pm.

You might want to bring a camera and a GPS system in your car or on your smart phone will be a big help for the trip.Family members are welcome but please, no pets.

Please bring something to write with, as you will be looking for landmarks on our adventure.

Our trip will be about 35 miles. Feel free to car pool from the “Y”..

First leg will be about 11 miles.

Second about 3 miles.

Third will be about 11 miles.

Fourth will be about 15 miles at which hot dogs will be served as a reward for completing the trip. Feel free to bring an ice chest and dish for the end of our adventure.

My cell number is   (512)775-0707    if you get lost. You can call or text me.

Please send me an email so I know how many flyers to print out. See you Saturday May 9 in the “Y” parking lot. Thanks so much.

Jeannie    jf1958@aol.com[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

APS 2015 April Annual Plant Swap

Plants in the Plant Swap 2015 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Well it has finally happened. The Austin Pond Societies Annual Plant Swap has come and gone and thanks to Barb Lenhardt and her many volunteers, went off very smoothly.As is always the custom, the set up was on the lawn next to the Zilker Meeting Room and participants were asked to drop off their goodies directly to this spot. The many volunteers arrived to set up at 5:30 PM and immediately got to work putting out and filling the portable ponds and putting down the protective tarps so that the lawn would not get damaged. For thirty minutes or so, there was a steady stream of members bringing in their wares while others were wandering around making mental notes of what they would like to pick out for themselves when their time arrived.

At 6:30, our resident chef, Laura ably assisted by her husband, Stefan, served hot dogs on a bun with all of the fixin’s. I don’t normally eat hot dogs but was hungry enough to have one of them and I have to say, it was very enjoyable. It tasted good enough that I had to fight the urge to go back for a second. I missed out on desert but probably that’s a good thing.

There was not much in the way of business when Jeannie Ferrier brought us to order at 7:00 PM. We did have one really good announcement that John, our ex-Parliamentarian had been busy recruiting and had talked a lady by the name of Cynthia Bennett into filling the open position. Welcome Cynthia, we are glad you are with us to keep us in line during our unruly Board Meetings. Turns out that we had new family membership and a returning husband and wife team who had been away for a while, also rejoined. Barb went over the rules of the Plant Swap more to remind everyone what was allowed and what was not. It was almost like the start of a Marathon or similar type race with many members standing waiting and straining at the bit for the word “Go”, and without further ado, they were off with the volunteers having first dibs.

Plant Swap April 2015 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

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There was so much stuff, pond plants, garden plants, cactus and even some tadpoles that there was no real need other than getting the article of choice, for any particular order as in the end, a lot of stuff went home with the original owners. Our policy is that if no one new claims what you bring in, you, as the donator have to be responsible to take it back home with you. That happened to me as not all of the Iris, Angelica and Thalia were taken. Luckily for me, I have a friend who was looking for some plants so I made a quick stop on the way home to drop them off.

Following the Swap, the same volunteers made short work of cleaning up the lawn, folding the tarps and rolling up the ponds, leaving it as though nothing had been on it that evening. All in all, the Swap went very well and I truly believe that everyone got what they wanted and probably a lot more.I wandered around and took a lot of pictures and videos of both the business part of the meeting and the swap itself. I had already viewed all of the offerings and quite honestly, could not see anything that I desperately wanted. My yard and ponds are already pretty full and there are many plants that I can’t put in the ponds because the big Koi have a fun time in destroying them almost as fast as I put them in the water.

Judging by the very happy members as they carried their new-found goodies to their cars, the Plant Swap was an enormous success and thanks have to go to Barb Lenhardt and her merry band of volunteers for making it happen. Thanks to you all. Now let’s get ready for the Pond Tour.

Plant Swap Business April 2015 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Zilker Gardenfest Spring 2015

Zilker Gardens in Spring from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The gardens are indeed a thing of real beauty and I couldn’t resist in taking more pictures of the flowers already in bloom and of course, to share them with you.

Zilker Gardenfest 2015

I attended the Zilker Botanical Gardenfest last Saturday, May 28, partly as a volunteer to help man the Austin Pond Societies table but mainly to take pictures and report on the event. The start time for the general public was set for 10:00 am and I got there around 8:30 or so  planning on getting an early walk around to beat the throng of expected people. The weather was warm and sunny and it turned out to be a beautiful day.

Inside of the Garden Center Auditorium was the “This Land is Your Land” Flower Show so I made that my first port of call before the crowds arrived. I pretty much had the place to myself as I wandered around admiring the wonderful displays and taking as many pictures as I could. The artistry of some of these pieces is truly amazing. The timing had to be perfect for the flowers to be on show.

Zilker Gardens Flower Show 2015 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

I left the beauty of the Flower Show behind and started to walk through the Gardenfest. There were more than 100 booths and tents set up mainly in the normal parking areas under the trees which was called the Vendors Circle and extending all the way down the hill to the Rose Garden. As I strolled around, there were a great number of different wares on view including a lot of hand-made items. I was talking to one vendor and she was telling me that some of these storekeepers, including herself, spend their summers driving from show to show to sell what they have spent the winter months making.

Some of the items included clothes, art, glassware, ornaments, jewelry, things for pets, kitchen ware, wooden furniture, fans, cactus, pottery, spices and much, much more. There were booths that offered new windows or special house insulation or even rain gutters and yet another had a demonstration of a Hydroponic system for growing plants and vegetables. There were so many different things offered that it is impossible to name but just a few.

At 11:30, I took my place at the Austin Pond Society booth along with another member, Delaine Brady who I was meeting for the first time. Delaine was more than eager to talk to the many people who approached our table and I was more than content to sit back and only put in a word here and there when it was required. I didn’t need to say much as Delaine had it pretty much under control. We did not actually register any new members but gave out a lot of advice on how interested people could register and we handed out a lot of information. We got to meet some interesting people many of whom had ponds.

When our hour and a half was up for which incidentally, I was grateful for the time to sit and rest as it is very tiring walking up and down the hill inside Zilker Gardens. I went back and did one more circuit this time joining many throngs of people. I wandered around the booths slowly making my way back down the hill on the Escarpment Trail. I passed the Food Court where just about every type of fast food was available until I arrived at the Rose Garden where a stage was set up. On the way, I found myself in the Faerie Grotto and had taken a couple of pictures not realizing where I was before I decided to get out of there before the Leprechaun’s and Goblins got me and turned me into a frog or something like. Probably in my case, it would be an old and wrinkled toad.

I had heard singing as I was making my way down the hill and the music sounded very interesting. I had never heard the artist before so I sat and listened for a while and of course, had the camera taking a video of the artist and his music. Unfortunately, he is very much in the shadow and is not too visible but his music is great. The wind played hell with the acoustics as it blew across the mic. I introduced myself to his sound man, Carlos Conseca and found out that the artist’s name is Jonray Higginbottom an extremely talented singer and musician. He played and sang with at least three different instruments, electric piano, mandolin and guitar. The link to Jonray’s website is http://www.jonraymusic.com
The link to Carlos Conseca’s website is http://www.facebook.com/cansecomusic 

Jonray from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

In all. I took well over 200 pictures of just the booths and the people. The photography was a challenge with the different shades of light and shadows and the huge spread of white canvas everywhere I looked. I had to make many adjustments to even get close to a decent shot on many occasions. But then again, that is the fun of photography. I opted to put over a 100 of these pictures in a gallery for viewers to see. Clicking on the picture will get an enlarged view.


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Twenty One Years of Giving

Twenty One Years of Giving

Above – Dell Children’s Medical Center Pond. The 2014 Beneficiary

By BJ Jenkins

It would seem that the pond and garden tour sponsored by the Austin Pond Society would be all about water features, lilies and fish. On the surface, it is. But if you were to ask board members why it’s important that the tour be successful, they would reply that it enables a donation to the organization selected as that year’s beneficiary.

For 20 years a portion of the proceeds from the Austin Pond Tour has been given to a group selected by the board and the membership. Monetary contributions have gone to a wide variety of recipients. The APS has supported KLRU in the form of a donation to The Central Texas Gardener, which graciously spotlights the tour each year. The APS is also grateful for its association with the Zilker Botanical Garden and has helped with funding repairs of the Lotus Pond and the Rose Garden Pond.

The APS has also made contributions to community organizations that don’t have a direct connection to ponds and gardens. For instance, The Wright House offers care and compassion to those with chronic illnesses; SafePlace provides support and sanctuary for women who have experienced domestic violence; Down Home Ranch, in Elgin, is a non-profit working farm and ranch for people with special needs and those who share their lives. TherapyWorks rehabilitates horses that have been abused and pairs them with abused children to begin the healing process for both; Marbridge is a private alternative to group homes for mentally challenged adults.

After the fire that devastated Bastrop County, a contribution was made to Bastrop State Park. That same year a donation from the APS was given to the Austin Independent School District’s Media Center for the purchase of materials related to ponding. Two years ago, Gus Garcia Middle School, Perez Elementary, Ridgetop Elementary and Williams Elementary were awarded grants to expand science programs that make use of ponds and native plants. Many other schools have been given koi, water plants and been visited whenever pond advice is needed.

But the APS is hands-on as well, having donated time and effort in actually rebuilding and cleaning ponds at various facilities throughout the Austin area. Besides volunteering during the resealing of the ponds at Zilker Park, members help maintain the pond outside the Zilker Garden Center each month during spring and summer. Members made several trips to Elgin last year to completely rebuild the two ponds at Down Home Ranch, and each spring members participate in an annual pond cleanup there. The APS also gave the ranch a new pond vacuum and plenty of koi.

A year ago, 15 members of the Pond Society participated in a fish rescue at one member’s pond and took about 50 goldfish to the ponds at Dell Children’s Medical Center. This began a dialogue that resulted in the selection of the Healing Garden within the Medical Center as the beneficiary for the 2014 tour. This garden and pond, which is reserved as a sanctuary for young patients and their families is not generally open to the public, Visitors were allowed during the Sunday morning hours as part of the 2014 tour.

In the past year, members have participated in several fish rescues as people have given up their ponds for one reason or another, and APS has found new homes for the many Koi and Goldfish.

This year, a portion of the proceeds from the Pond Tour will be donated to the Austin Police Operation “Blue Santa” in Austin, Texas. Austin Police Operation Blue Santa is a non-profit outreach program run by the Austin Police Department, the Austin Fire Department, Austin Energy, Austin Water Utilities, and the Texas National Guard,

The members of the Austin Pond Society are all looking forward to the tour on June 6 and 7. This year, they will be celebrating 21 years of serene ponds, lovely water lilies, and jewel-like koi; but most important, they will be celebrating 21 years of giving.

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Austin Pond Society March Meeting 2015

Austin Pond Society March Meeting 2015

The Austin Pond Society held its monthly meeting this past March 15th, at Zilker Botanical Gardens Meeting Room. It was attended by about 45 members all of whom got to enjoy another tasty meal of vegetable coconut curry over jasmine rice offered by our very own chef and hospitality person, Laura Creaser. There was also a salad. It is very understandable and easy to see why she and her husband are the most popular people at every meeting and probably within the whole organization. For desert, some of the members brought in cookies. I’m waiting for that apple pie that someone brought in before, to reappear as it was delicious.

With the meal out-of-the-way, Barb Lenhardt introduced this months speaker, Jason Avent from Brite Ideas Aquaponics. His topic was on the subject of water and water treatment especially to do with our ponds. He covered a lot of different areas and answered many questions and was very knowledgeable on his subject. Below is a video of his entire presentation.

Jason Avent-Brite Ideas March 2015 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Following the presentation, Jeannie Ferrier took over the mike and conducted the business side of the meeting. She had a couple of new members to introduce with her usual verve and enthusiasm making them feel right at home instead of first timers. There was no major business to discuss so the meeting moved right along. BJ Jenkins reported on the upcoming tour and received a round of applause for her efforts in building the APS entry in the Zilker Botanical Gardens Faerie display. This article was featured in an earlier blog and can be reached at this link.

The meeting ended with the usual drawing for the door prizes.

The next meeting is one of our bigger ones. This one is entitled Plant Swap and although the name is mostly true, items to swap are not limited to pond plants.  Almost anything pond and garden related can be brought in and swapped out for different items. This includes both pond and garden plants, fish, garden style ornaments, even useable pond or garden equipment. The usual method applied is that for every item you bring in, you get a ticket. One item, one ticket. When it comes time to actually pick your item, there is a special order of events with the volunteers having first choice followed by the rest in no particular order. Sort of a free for all only in a disciplined way. Most people have had time to view and have an idea of what they are after. When everyone has used up the initial allotted time, the remaining items  are up for grabs until they are all gone. There is a very strict rule in place concerning cleanup and quite simply put, if the items you brought in are not claimed, then you have to take them back home with you.  It is a lot of fun and sometimes, there are real prizes in the mix. Hope to see you there.

Below is the video of the business part of the meeting.

APS March 2015 Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

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