At the Southeastern Flower Show this past Spring, one of the gardens that I visited was that of the Atlanta Koi Club, who had a Japanese garden with a koi pond. While chatting with the club member who was volunteering that day, I learned about their biennial koi tour that would be happening this year and resolved to attend. Usually what this means is that I find something that I really want to do, then procrastinate on buying tickets until the event is sold out, or completely forget about it until I see pictures of all of my friends having fun at said event posted on Facebook. However, this time I wised up and put it on my iCalendar as I was standing there and elected to get a notification in time to actually buy a ticket, yay for me!
The cost of the ticket was a great deal, only $25 per car, with a maximum of 4 adults per car, and really you don't want to spend an entire day in the car with much more than 3 other people, anyhow. That included admission to all of the gardens, plus a hot dog lunch and, best of all, a membership to the koi club for the rest of the year. I love being a member of groups! People who are passionate and knowledgeable about anything are my very favorite kind of people.
Did you know that koi adore watermelon? Throw a slice in a pond and watch them hoover off all that fruit in seconds flat. They also go crazy for celery, carrots and just about any other plant, you have to be careful about putting anything into the pond with them like water lilies as they will nibble them into oblivion. Most of the gardens on the tour had separate ponds for their water lilies, some with resident goldfish, as they aren't herbivores.
One of my favorite things about ponds is that they attract dragonflies, one of the few insects that don't creep me out, and I spotted dozens of different kinds on our tour.
The sheer variety of different sizes, shapes and colors was like a living picture, I took dozens of pictures at each pond as I kept choosing a different favorite fish the longer I watched. The pure white one above had these fabulous large round scales down its side creating this white on white texture that was just gorgeous!
Most of the gardens had koi themed or Asian inspired garden decor, this garden also had koi wind chimes and even a fish shaped adirondack chair! To give you an idea of scale, this fountain was nearly as tall as I am, which isn't saying much.
The hardest part about photographing water is the reflections and glare, I would love tips on avoiding this from any photo geniuses who may be reading this post, although I feel like it worked in my favor on the above shot where the koi is swimming through the cloudy sky.
I think I was most impressed by this garden where the homeowner actually digs up all of his banana trees, elephant ears and other tropicals every fall and stores them in a warehouse only to replant them again every spring. I can't even be bothered to pull weeds, so this level of commitment is awe inspiring.
This was one of the smallest ponds on the tour, just down the road from me in Norcross. I appreciated the size, which seemed more manageable to me, and the water clarity, which was like glass. Water clarity can go from clear to cloudy overnight as fish spawn, UV bulbs and filters breakdown, koi people have a lot of challenges.
This was our last stop, where faulty UV bulbs left the pond so murky you couldn't see the koi at all, luckily this dragonfly agreed to be my model by posing obligingly on this statue. I should also mention that all of the club members were so incredibly kind, at this pond the homeowner invited us to come back in a few days after the new bulbs had a chance to do their job and clean the water. I haven't had a chance to go back yet, but plan to do so the next chance I get.
If you would like to see the other 150 or so pictures I took during the tour, I have them in a set here.
Look at that face, they are so friendly and have so much personality!