Construction of a garden and pond in Florida, USA - day 1 - day 2 - day 3 - day 4

With some pride, I would like to mention that A&C Ponds & Gardens was invited to design, and build a pond & garden in Florida, USA. The Kyle and Tammy Anderson family had seen photos of our work at last years (2006) CFKS Koi show, where we were exhibitors. They liked what they saw, and asked us to design, and construct a new pond and garden for them.

We have designed, and built several pond, and gardens outside of our native Holland, such as in Germany, Belgium, Spain and Italy. Further we designed gardens for French, Swedish, English and Austrian customers. But America is new to us, and is much farther from home.

We have visited America in the past. We started the A&C Koi breeding program supported by an American partner, Al Fuller, whom I consider one of my best friends. Al and I share a dream about breeding high quality Koi outside of Japan. If you visit our Koi website, and especially the Yoshikigoi pages, you can see some of the results of the three year road we have travelled thus far. With over a hundred parent sets spawned, we hopefully have started out in the right direction. This year we will again be present at the 2007 CFKS Koi Show to promote the A&C Koi breeding results. This however, is a separate story that we will certainly share with you in the months to come.

Let us go back to the construction of the garden and pond. Tammy sent some photos of their current garden, and also the location, and size of the area for the new pond and garden. After a short discussion, I started the design, and the planning of the required labour and materials.
I needed local help with the project, thus I contacted a friend, and colleague from Florida that I had met at the 2006 CFKS Koi show. This was Jeff Mendoza from Jeff’s Koi House of Largo Florida

Jeff was enthusiastic about offering a helping hand with the project. This made things easier for me, because Jeff could search locally for the required materials that would need to be obtained. All that was left for me to do was the final design, and planning.
Finally nothing else kept us from going, and we obtained the tickets for a 14 day trip to the USA. One additional person accompanied me from The Netherlands, Seph Lemmens.

Seph did a one year apprenticeship with my company, to learn the ins and outs of Koi breeding, and has now started a Koifarm in Poland. Preceding the trip I was already pleased that he offered to accompany me, but afterwards I liked it even more. Due to the amount of work required by this job, I needed all the help I could get. Seph has become a good personal friend, and I wish him a lot of success with his new Koi Breeding business in Poland.
Our trip to Florida was a long one, because we had to change planes in Washington. From Washington we flew to Tampa where Jeff was waiting for us. Once we arrived in Tampa, the weather turned against us. It rained for three days.This resulted in 3 days of doing nothing. On Saturday we finally could start the job. The time in between, we used to find the rest of the materials and plants.
  Additionally Jeff asked one of his employees to help us during the project, John earned the nickname “the cement mixer”. This because he was busy all day making this important ingredient. On Saturday morning, the four of us got into a car for the three hour drive from Jeff’s house in Tampa to Melbourne, where we were warmly welcomed by Tammy. Her husband Kyle was still at work. Working on Saturday’s in the USA as in Holland, is not rare.
Hospitable Tammy showed us the house, and the guest rooms where we would be staying, Kyle and Tammy have a dream house, but as I wrote the last day in their guestbook it was the warmth of our welcome, and the personal attention that surrounded us all the days of our stay, that made our stay special. Once more I would like express my gratitude to Kyle and Tammy.
After first unloading the trailer, we started the digging work. This worked better than expected after all those wet days, and the swampy ground we had to work in. We started at two o‘clock, and finished the digging at the 7pm. After finishing, we had a well earned shower and went for a meal in an American steak house. That first night we had many talks about all kinds things, and nothing until we hit the blankets at 1:30am.

Construction of a garden and pond in Florida, USA - day 2

The next day we got up “late”, meaning at 8am, (it was after all Sunday), and after having breakfast, served by Tammy, we started work with lots of fresh energy. That day the most important work was to water level the pond bench completely. This bench would be the foundation for the bricks to be laid up, which was to have a flagstone top.

During this work Kyle and Tammy where leaning against the excavator while watching all the activity.

As I already said, the goal for today was to complete the outline of the pond including flattening and leveling, with a water level, of the pond bench. Because we already missed 3 days caused by bad weather, we needed to do catch up work. A drink of water from time to time was very welcome; because of the temperature in Florida was 23 degrees Celsius. We worked the whole day through until 7:30pm: We did not look to fresh before we went for a shower, and closed the working day. We passed the evening shooting some games of pool. Alas, all won by Jeff and Kyle. In other words the Dutchies were not as good as they thought they were. We blamed it on being tired, and were just playing for fun. Of course this was true, but winning from time to time would also be fun, Jeff and Kyle! Even if you let us win from time to time.

Construction of a garden and pond in Florida, USA - day 3

Monday morning we again got off to an early start, to catch up on lost time. This day we started to lay the EPDM liner, all the while avoiding the build-up of folds as much as possible. Just before we start to fill the pond with water, we always glue the folds together to make certain that the liner shape is smooth as possible, in this case to avoid the folds interfering as much as possible, with placing the concrete blocks, on the pond bench. The hollow concrete blocks were set in, and partially filled with concrete, and filled the rest of the way with sand. At the top a layer of cement, finally resulting in a steady and strong block wall we could use as a firm base for further construction. The most difficult part was the area under the existing bridge. This bridge could not be removed, and therefore we needed to work under it to get the job done.
The next work was the construction of the first part of the block wall that was to serve as the backbone of the waterfall, so that it could start to setup, and forming a stable platform 5 foot and 3 inches high. Today we also installed the piping for the filter and the filter flushing system. Fortunately we had good weather and made good progress. To be sure that we did not get a disappointing surprise the next day we covered everything at the end of the day.

Construction of a garden and pond in Florida, USA - day 4

On Tuesday we again were blessed with fantastic weather and a temperature of approx. 25 degrees Celsius. Surely if you consider that the temperature back in the Netherlands was about 4 Celsius, with a smile on our face we looked at our American friends, showing clear signs of the cold at a morning temperature of 18 degrees. What a “bad” life that they have there!

The walls in the pond and at the back of the waterfall dried very well and we immediately could start to cover them with flagstones. For this work we needed someone to make smaller pieces to fit on the approx. 8 inch high by 10 inch wide pond bench wall. Seph and Jeff are the ones to do this. John laid the bonding, and I placed the pieces. We started at the inner side of the wall, and then moved on to the top side. During this work we also installed the skimmer.
In the mean time we also started to heighten the backside of the waterfall back wall. All the now superfluous sand was carried behind the waterfall wall. This could later be distributed over the bog land behind the waterfall. Given that we also needed to purchase several things, the day passed quickly and before we knew it was dusk. Again, just to be sure, we covered everything against rain, and hoped that the next day would be as sunny as today. If that would be the case we can start flushing and shaping the waterfall.

Will be continued...