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…..it came from somewhere!!!
Completely without knowing it we restored a “wetland”!!!