Jan Campbell added a lovely pond that fits naturally into her extensive garden
The koi swim up and eat food right out of Jan Campbell's hands, even nibble a bit on her fingers. She giggles as one big fish gently tickles a finger.
It's one of the benefits of a small pond she and her husband Joel built a few years ago on their just-under-an-acre property in Warren.
Campbell has been on the property for 11 years, starting her gardening from scratch, and filling most of the lot with many variety of marvelous flora.
'We had a low spot in the yard and every fall and winter we had standing water. It became a question of what to put in there. I wanted to see if we could build a pond,' Campbell said. 'The whole place was like an empty palate and I just went crazy.'
To erect the pond, she got her husband and some friends to put in a pond liner, purchased a pump, and put rocks they'd collected around the edge. The rocks are round and help keep out Herons, and other birds. She estimates the whole pond cost around $800, mostly for the liner and the pump, and the rest as volunteer labor.
Campbell said she only bought two koi to begin with and has adopted more from friends and others. The Columbia County Extension office has called, saying people are moving and want to know if she'll take the koi. She's gladly obliged. She has 15 koi in the pond, and has only lost a couple to predators.
Koi is a Japanese fish (nishikigoi), literally a brocaded carp, usually kept for mostly ornamental purposes. They are actually the precursors of the goldfish, much like a wolf is to a dog.
In addition to the koi, Campbell also has the small Gambusia affinis in the pond. It is best known as the mosquitofish because it feeds on the larval and pupal stages of mosquitoes. They are obtained for free from Vector Control. Campbell's have multiplied on their own.
Campbell says she has been a Master Gardener since 2003 and has learned a lot from her colleagues along the way. 'I feel like a third wheel sometime,' she said.
She didn't have a plan for what to do with her garden, but more or less a revolving vision of what works where.
'I like to make things up in my head (what should go where) and don't like to plan,' Campbell said.
Campbell notes her husband is not a gardener, 'but he's too sweet. He helped collect the rocks for the pond, brought in a load of sand, and does the heavy lifting. He's helped create all of this.'
The Campbell house has a white picket fence and there are different areas of the yard. Many plants are easily recognizable, but others are very unique. Campbell likes berries, has cherries, and grapes. It's all a very lovely setting.
'It's a lot of work,' she said, 'I spend most mornings out in the yard.'
But it something she clearly enjoys and cherishes.