The tale of the pond!

by Posted On

On Mother’s Day in 1997; we purchased this vacant lot.  It is a little over two acres;  however it seems like more because it is in the middle of 90!

On one side is a 40 acre nature preserve protected by the Land Trust.  There is a lovely trail through it; maintained by the Montecito Trails Association.  It will be a nature preserve in perpetuity.

On two sides, is a 42 acre estate which belonged to a friend of my Mother’s from Pasadena who was 100 years old when we bought the lot next door. That estate is the last one of its size left in the heart of Montecito. There is one house on the other side.

This is the house next door.

The day we bought the lot;  I stood on this exact place and said to my husband  ,
“There needs to be a pond there!” It just sprang into my mind; and it felt as if I were receiving a command!
He said, “Oh, dear, let’s just think about building the house and installing
the enormous drainage system we just found out would be necessary!
Let’s not talk about a pond right now!!!”
I said, “No, you don’t understand, you can’t dig a pond when there is a house in the way!
 You need a bulldozer;  not men with shovels!!”
It became a total obsession, and I was completely determined.
(I am the design side of our team; and he is the financial ), and I promised I would be cognizant of the costs!
Well, we dug the pond (that is clay soil which is difficult to grow things in;  but very good for a pond!)
Wonder of wonders, it filled up with water all by itself!  It was astonishing!
Now things get really interesting!  We had a pond designer landscape with native iris and water lilies; We found a duck-house to float (tethered to the sides) to protect the baby ducklings from predators.   The first few years, the mother nested in the back bushes until one time something got her eggs, and she started again and lay her eggs in the duck house!
This year we had 3 batches of ducklings from 3 different mother ducks!
I love the pond more than any other part of our garden; and the wildlife has proliferated!  A bird expert counted 120 species of birds in our property from their songs!  I think the water has a huge effect , along with our being totally organic with no chemicals, pesticides, herbicides.  We are a “Certified Backyard Habitat” by the National Wildlife Federation.
Three years after we moved into the house we built, a lady who had grown up in Montecito in the thirties came over and looked out the windows at the pond.  She said, “Oh, I think it is just lovely that you put the pond back!”
I was absolutely dumbfounded!  ”What?  Back??”
At first she didn’t believe me when I said I had no idea there was a pond there!  She said that there was a pond exactly the same size, shape, and in the same place;  and it was filled in in the early forties to make a riding ring.  There were stables where our house is built.
So, when I received the “command” for a pond to be here… came from somewhere!!!
Completely without knowing it we restored a “wetland”!!!

10 thoughts on “The tale of the pond!

  1. penelopebi

    Tracey Jackson
    It’s amazing what happens when good taste and good intentions merge!

    Sep 13, 2011 @ 9:45 pm

  2. penelopebi


    this one…..and I appreciate all of them with all my heart…..brought tears to my eyes. I took my daughter (who is now 41; to Kenya when she was 16 , and we visited Isak Dinesen’s house! I read that book, and loved it. I do not remember the “pond” story. I must have remembered it on some level. It is the same story!! Thank you!!!

    Sep 14, 2011 @ 5:24 am


    Thank you , Tracey…….love you!

    Sep 14, 2011 @ 5:26 am

    Oh Brooke! It is because of you that I have a blog! And what joy it brings me! Thank you!

    Sep 14, 2011 @ 5:29 am

    Tara Dillard
    You are Russell Page. Do you have his, The Education Of A Gardener?

    Our bodies react to the ions of water, forcefully pulled. A lucky few are highly attuned.

    In a landscape Russell Page had it. Once you read his words you’ll realize all you ‘felt’ & did.

    Alas, I had to remove a pond (I had built) to put in my conservatory. 1 pond remains….

    Love your duck stories.

    Garden & Be Well, XO T
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

    Oh my! I sat and laughed for 5 minutes this morning about this comment! I approved it; and it asked me “are you sure you want to do this?” And then I laughed five more minutes!!! That is the compliment of a lifetime!!!

  3. Penelope Bianchi

    My goodness, I do believe that it is possible. I have seen a ghost (unfortunately) and so know that there are things that we can’t explain in this world–so happy that yours was such a happy one!

    Sep 13, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

  4. penelopebi

    What a great story and history lesson for the beautiful area you live in. I have always thought Montecito was a little slice of heaven!
    Thanks for sharing.

    Sep 13, 2011 @ 10:58 pm

  5. penelopebi

    velvet and linen
    Your property is such a magical place. I think of you as Snow White, with your chickens and ducks and all of the creatures on your property loving you!
    I think they know and appreciate all that you have done for them. They live in paradise!


  6. penelopebi


    for the love of a house
    So happy that you listened to the command! It is beautiful. And, I’m thinking the ducks are happy you did too.


    Sep 14, 2011 @ 12:27 am

  7. penelopebi



    What’s meant to be will be and so it is. How lovely that you “hear” what is shared for the greater good. Thank you for sharing this lovely history and beautiful intervention for the love of nature.

    Sep 14, 2011 @ 3:09 am

  8. penelopebi


    This reminds me so much of Isak Dinesen in Out of Africa. Do you remember the scene in which she is trying to convince her manservant to help her build a pond?

    “If you put a dam here to stop the water…. then I can make a pond here.”

    “This water must go home to Mombasa.”

    “It can go home. After we make a pond.”

    It’s a lovely pond. So happy you put it make where it should be!

    Sep 14, 2011 @ 4:44 am

  9. Dovecote Decor

    Well, I think you discovered you have dousing gifts. Now you can have a side line.

  10. Thoughts on Design

    Beautiful!!! Good for you sticking to your guns! Your intuition was right!

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