One of the tasks that volunteers from the Austin Pond Society perform every year is to clean out the Willie Birge Memorial Pond located in front of the Meeting Room at the Zilker Botanical Gardens. Usually, the work happens the first weekend in March but this year, the weather was not kind and the work was delayed until this past weekend, March 14, 2015.
For as long as anyone remembers, the leader of the group of volunteers has been Darren Bayhi who is also the Membership Manager of the Austin Pond Society. He has so much knowledge of what needs to be done which not only includes draining the pond and cleaning it out but also to re-pot the lilies and lotus plus all of the other pond plants that call this pond their home. Luckily, apart from many Gambusia, a very small fish often called mosquito fish mainly because they do a good job of eating the mosquito larvae, the pond does not have any other fish to add to the difficulty. It was interesting to see the care that the volunteers gave to these tiny fish. When they were spotted mixed in the mud on the bottom of the pond, one or the other of the volunteers would very carefully pick them up and place them in a bucket of water put aside for this purpose. Several frogs were also caught and kept safe to be returned after the pond was re-filled.
Along with Darren, his band of merry men and women composed of our President Jeannie Ferrier and her husband Steven Monfrini, our Secretary Julienne Smith and the rest, a happy group of men, Phil Prokaski, Charlie Melear, Chuck Graves and Bruce McDonald. I was also there but did not help out much as I was too busy trying to get a record of this event. At least, that was my excuse. It was pointed out several times that I was the only clean one in the group. The others were up to their collective ears in mud.
The group also worked on cleaning one of the smaller ponds further down the hill and also the Rose Garden Pond where they added plants and made adjustments to the new fountains that have very recently been installed. I told them I had a very important job but I don't think they believed me...
The entire process took a little over five hours and the end result was that the pond was clean, the lilies and lotus were replanted and fertilized along with a couple of Papyrus and Pickerel. Give them a month and the new growth will be showing for a glorious display of water flowers for the entire summer for the visitors to the Zilker Botanical Gardens here in Austin.
Many thanks to all of the people who helped out on this Annual project. it would have been very difficult for Darren on his own. On the plus side, we all got a free lesson on how to re-pot lilies and lotus, knowledge that we can put to good use in our own ponds.