Derek Fell's Dipping Pool Is . . .

In Tune With Mother Narure

Swimming pools typically consume an array of chemicals like chlorine and copper sulfate. However, Derek knows that sharing his dipping pool with water plants, koi, and other aquatic creatures rules out the use of harsh chemicals. He realized from the beginning that his water feature must be environmentally friendly.

Derek tells WGI, “We have many species of frogs and, of course, an abundance of frogs draws harmless [to people] water snakes. Several species of heron visit the pond -- mainly for the frogs, and for fish, too. Although we also lose a few small koi to the herons, they have not taken any big ones. Our koi breed readily in the naturalistic setting and so the numbers stay in balance.  

Photo by and © Derek Fell

“Raccoons visit and take an occasional large koi, but the pond features a tunnel into which the koi take refuge when they sense danger. This tunnel is beneath a stepping-stone that separates the main pool (the dipping pool) from the lower pool; it is well disguised, undetectable from above. Some people say that you cannot have both koi and waterlilies because the fish eat the waterlily shoots, but we have suffered no losses to our waterlilies from the koi.”

He continues, “Numerous native bog plants thrive around the margins of the pond. For example, several species of Sarracenia native to the nearby Jersey Pine Barrens thrive there. In addition, the hardy swamp hibiscus, cardinal plants (which attract hummingbirds), winterberry (which bluebirds need to survive the winter), river birch, swamp sunflowers, native deciduous azaleas and the native blue flag iris (Iris versicolor) populate the area.

“With regard to algae control, it’s not much of a problem. Occasionally, we use Aquafix or Ecoblast that we buy from our local garden center. I find that both effectively control string weed (Cladophora), which is our biggest problem, and both are non-toxic to fish.

“To prevent leaves falling into the water and decomposing on the bottom, we cover the water with netting when the leaves start to fall.”

The diverse blend of plant and animal life in Derek’s great volume of water makes maintenance and balance much easier than maintenance and balance in small features like aquariums and tub water gardens. His large water feature clearly approximates nature, and beautifully integrates itself into the surroundings. If adversity strikes one segment of the feature, other segments take up the “slack” to help keep the feature in balance.

With it, Derek not only takes great pleasure in nature’s splendid beauty, but he also benefits from healthy, relaxing dips in the water with his frisky fish and enthralling aquatic plants, sans chlorine and copper sulfate. 

Renowned garden writer and photographer
Derek Fell's Dipping Pool
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