Archive for the ‘Little Off Topic’ Category

National Water Garden Group

March 30, 2009

We are just beginning to unveil some new ideas that wont be fully prepared until summer for Water-Garden-Blog.com   This week I will add the Facebook Water Garden Group and am preparing the Twitter, I dont intend on tweeting very often but will be doing so during some fun spring and summer events you may want to participate in!

The real “Fun” online applications will follow in May-July. For now since I never tell anyone on the phone or on the blog to feed the fish you can scroll down this page a little and feed our virtual fish on the right collumn. Just click around in the water and feed the goldfish, this is the only feeding that wont lead to more filtration devices and algae blooms. Enjoy!

water-garden-blog-follow

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The New Battle stations, Part one

March 13, 2009

        Loads of training, preparation and installation of the new North offices in Canton Ohio are almost finished. Thanks so much to Steve Mears for all his help and influence over the fall and winter months, a very good man. Some pictures of the new offices we have built for the new phone service people are included below. My dad and I built the new desks last August and they are working wonderfully.

       This year when you call you will be speaking with Zac (myself), Ruth, Maryanne, Pat, or Nancy. There are four phone lines in the new building and if we are all on the phone like last year, leave a quick message and we will call you right back or zip us an e-mail with your best contact time and we will call you back then. If you have questions on building the pond e-mail me and we can set up a longer phone call for a morning or evening one on one, the phone lines just get to jammed to answer all the nitty gritty questions during peak hours. I have shortened our order line hours a bit this year to leave more time for one on one phone calls for help on nights and weekends.

Zac's new workstation

Zac's new workstationWith few windows, my office gets water lily photos from our two lily nurseries. From left to right we have Crystal (white), Barbara Barnett (autumn), Gypsy (red, hardy), Then and amazing Victoria Lily next to a Madame Ganna Walska cut off on the far right. In another two weeks every square inch of the wall in front of that desk will be covered in papers and post-it notes. I never said my work station wasn't messy. On the desk is our RCA 4 line phone system, same one we used last year and I tell you it is fun to page the other office to make an announcement. If you want to know what water garden books I am reading zip me an e-mail sometime. Next we have part of the break area, gotta have a half size fridge with the full size to fit all the horrible food we eat in the summer. The ladies (Ruth, Pat, and Maryanne are good cooks but good bakers too... that leads to bad food all summer).Breakroom, Nancy's whoppers in front of framed 2008 April catalog!

Since we are not at the nursery we like to look at the nursery.
I will be adding my pictures of the two
nurseries here in the next couple weeks. Some of them already exist I think down on the Miami Rose water lily post.
I want to show you the plants, growing process and what you will be getting this season. We have great new plants, some good new product.
We are going to carry the pitcher plants outside the collections this year. We have plenty so I don’t think we are going to run out like in years past, if we begin to get low I will keep the blog updated.
Specials will be posted and you can check out pond megastore’s “plants & shipping information” page to see our new snail boxes shipped in coolers for safer delivery, I never got the picture up last year.

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...New artwork, 2008 April catalog on file cabinet, The March Catalog is framed in Ruths office...

The coolers are only for orders of 40 or more snails or tadpoles as fewer than that does not make any sense to ship due to overnight shipping costs. Smaller orders will be available until warm weather in late may without coolers and without overnight shipping.
Plenty of new fish this year, we will have lion heads, black moors, orandas, gold orfs, fancy-tail shubunkins, butterfly koi, sarasa coments, fantails, and regular koi just to get you excited. Call for availability if the fish you are looking for is not listed, we will be able to mix and match per each box.
Nancy's office! She loves the coffee so she's got a brand new cuisinart...nice. She doesnt have one of the 26" monitors though just a 17".

Nancy's office! She loves the coffee so she's got a brand new cuisinart...nice. She doesnt have one of the 26" monitors though just a 17".

To the left is Nancy’s office with smaller photos, the center picture is of the bog plants in the Florida Nursery. The three frames on the far left are from the April catalog from 2008 when we introduced the pink rain lilies, yellow mokey flower, and a few other plants we sold out of by June!

The lilies on the lower level second from the left are Clyde Ikins, even overcrowded they are the best blooming hardy lilies I have ever seen. Not my favorite hardy but one that outperforms. The white hardy lilies next to the center bog plants on the top are moondance. They have magnificent centers that look like no other. You cannot really tell this far from the wall and shrunk but I will post more lilies on here soon.
We had some fun picking what pictures to put up on our walls so I thought I would show you the first two offices. I will take some pictures of the other office and board room with us sitting in them later this week .  I hope to have our 2009 shirts in soon so maybe we can wear those instead of last years. I hope you enjoy the post and yes I have seen the copycat blog that seems to follow everything we do. I am sure in a few days they will need to put a picture of their office up too… It’s too funny to see she cannot come up with her own ideas.  I kind of enjoy making her spend money so lets see if I can find something more expensive for her this time.
 

New Beginnings!

February 5, 2009

  The new plant species are coming together. Look for them soon. The new design of this blog is coming together and I hope will be up by the 20th of February.

I spent about 9 days to visit with my parents, sister-in-law,  niece and nephew and was  without the internet for the last  few days in January. Yesterday, I had a good hour and a half meeting with a friend who will be one of the ladies operating some of the phones in the office.  Beginning around Mid March, when taking orders becomes a day to day operation,  I  may begin posting emails from customers with my answers , as many questions and answers are common and we spend hundreds of hours each year answering them. Hopefully,  the posts will cut down on common questions.

We do have 4 phone lines, more to take orders than questions. The average order takes 15 minutes, that means some take 4 minutes, some take 35 based on questions.

We do have 4 phone lines, more to take orders than questions. The average order takes 15 minutes, that means some take 4 minutes, some take 35 based on questions.

We have four phone lines here in the office, and each spring,  when it gets really crazy and all the lines are busy we get voicemails asking us why we are not answering the phones.  We will be working as fast as we can to place orders and answer questions.  We look forward to hearing from you!

emailing us questions is so much easier for us to answer back and forth and you can include images as can we!

emailing us questions is so much easier for us to answer back and forth and you can include images as can we!

E-mailing us is often an easier way to get questions answered, many of you like attaching photos with your questions which gives you more of an opportunity to ask your entire question or all your questions and we can respond back and forth as long as it takes. For us it is easier to email back and forth when there are breaks in phone calls during the day and also early in the morning and in the evening as we are closing. I can guarantee you, we will spend more time corresponding with you with better information no matter if you are a retail customer, nursery vendor, or landscape contractor new to installing water gardens.

Bird Lovers can’t be Koi Lovers…I explain

January 16, 2009

This post will definitely go under “off topic” though it dose pertain to water gardens.  

Last thing you want to see in your pond!

Last thing you want to see in your pond!

      I would assume many gardeners are bird lovers and outdoor lovers  as well.  And if you are a brand new water gardener,  then you may not know that the arch nemesis of a water garden with goldfish or koi, throughout most of the USA, is the Heron. This is one birdyou never want to catch in your  fishpond, they have only come for one reason, your backyard buffet.

Small & very pretty green heron, Still gonna eat your fish!

Small & very pretty green heron, Still gonna eat your fish!

In much of the country people don’t even know herons are in their area, they seem like large birds you may only find in th southern swamps. They are usually a protected species, some a foot tall, some four feet tall with a six foot wingspan. Found commonly hanging out next to water gardens in the early morning around sunrise or wading in the shallow end of a pond, a heron can swallow a 24″ fish and take off quickly. They love backyard ponds, as they are small, shallow, and the fish are usually bright colors, could we make it any easier for these birds? I don’t think so. . .  .

The Scarecrow I talk about, cost about $65-$79 as of 2008

The Scarecrow I talk about, cost about $65-$79 as of 2008

Now winter is a very common time to find these birds in your yard. For fish to live, we generally keep a hole in the ice here in the north, with a pump or trough deicer.  These birds have less and less open water to hunt  and they easily see our water gardens open water reflect like a mirror in the sky. Lakes and streams with fish are iced over but we provide a tiny open space of open water, on top of that, the fish are bright orange and red or white or yellow. These birds will come back until the pond is empty, however we can keep them away pretty easy. A scarecrow, battery operated device is sold almost everywhere & works on all animals, it one in has a motion detector and shoots a stream of chilly water at animals that come by the pond. You can set one in the area in which it protects so that you can come up behind it without getting sprayed. Most people, myself included, forget about the device and normally walk right by it, and you  may get a little spray of water at your butt.   It protects the pond and after a few squirts the bird will stop coming around for good. 

Another option is a decoy heron, these birds are territorial, move the plastic decoy from one side of the pond to the other every 7 days as birds are smart and flyover birds will notice the decoy never moves, after a while. Make sure you have plenty of submerged plants, as fish can hide from the birds in submerged grasses like anacharis or hornwort.

Last of all, a small line of fishing line around the pond ,about 14 inches high, is invisible to the heron and they only way they can get to the pond is to walk in, when they reach your fishing line fence, they cannot move any closer to the pond and don’t know what is in the way, they will then fly off. The fishing line is not unattractive, is inexpensive and easy to put up .Once the heron is gone, you can take it down.

 E-mail me if you need help finding anything.

Winter: early, cold, and nationwide

December 26, 2008

Tomorrow will be the first warm day here in Ohio since October.  I get to write this post a second time because I somehow refreshed my page and erased thirty minutes worth of work.  I provided some winter and Christmas images, as it’s just too cold and snowy to  put up green images.

I will rewrite most of what I wanted to talk about today,  including how this winter and the current rocky econmic conditions will affect the home and garden industry as a whole, or at least my predictions for 2009. You may or may not care about this as it is not a common topic to discuss how enviromental and economic conditions affect plants.  However the economy will most certainly affect what you find IN garden centers each spring. 

 Last year I was asked how I thought the 2008 season would go as at the time we felt we were going into an economic downturn.

When you see economic reports in the news that the country is in a recession it is not necessarily true that everyone or every business is participating in a downturn. I am not forecasting that our sector of the water garden industry will suffer in 2009. In fact it is still quite possible the garden industry will do well in 2009. I see localized trouble for landscaping in some parts of the country but that is isolated. You can probably save on maintenance services should you be someone who hires someone to do your lawn or leaves. Take advantage of the situation. There will be more people willing to do yard work in 2009 due to both layoffs and a slightly tougher job market. A lawn business is something easy to start up that has immediate revenue and has a few costs or barriers to entry. Make sure who ever you hire is professional and that they know what they are doing. Most professional landscapers are still very bad water garden planners and installers. If I offended any landscapers feel free to e-mail me. Perhaps in the future I will put up a water gardening quiz. If your landscaper cannot answer the questions correctly than have them do everything but the water garden.

 I believe 2009 will be similar to the spring and summer of 2002 when fewer people spent money on trips or traveled.  Next year more people will stay at home and when this occurs they get creative. This is when we take time to redevelop our homes and yards. As we spend more time at home, we make our homes and gardens more inviting.  With winter having begun so early (November 1st here in Ohio), and now much of the south and west has had a few rounds of cold and snow and ice. By the time April gets here we will be tired of a cold brown landscape and we will be investing in our yards.

Blizzard conditions

Blizzard conditions

This does not mean we are all shelling out thousands of dollars but we will take out old overgrown shrubs we have been meaning to, dividing our hostas and replanting them. I think annuals will have huge growths in sales like petunias and inpatients (though there’s already bazillions of those). Our yards will be important. In the water garden industry I expect new water lily varieties to do well in sales like Leopardess (blue, mottles) water lily , Panama Pacific purple water lily, Miami Rose (reddish water lily), Pink Passion water Lily, and many more. Also new plants for sunny planters in most all of the country including papyrus which has been common in the southwest for some time and umbrella palms.

blizzard snow

blizzard snow

Last week we had ice storms in the north east, this week in Chicago and Indiana. Snow twice in two weeks in Seattle which is uncommon, and more uncommon they now refuse to salt the roads in the city (for a good laugh look up the news stories about police officers responding on foot in Seattle because the city refuses to salt the streets because the salt may go into Puget sound, a body of salt water?).  New Orleans and Beaumont TX had snow last week as did Las Vegas in the city. Florida has remained same so far but winter just arrived officially 5 days ago. Having lived here in Ohio for 8 or 9 years it wouldn’t surprise me if most of January and February are in the 50s but there is no sigh of that just yet. Tomorrow I will return to plants as I am anxious to begin discussing water lilies and what will be available this spring. We hope to be able to provide you with many new species and they are fantastic. I am having fun reading other blogs, mostly landscape like the whispering crane or searching the holiday making of people around the country.