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Perusing other people's ponds

This year's Pondscapes Pond and Water Garden Tour takes you to 22 ponds in the bay area.

© St. Petersburg Times
published May 3, 2002

At first glance, 516 S Orleans Ave. seems like any other quiet South Tampa home.

But deep in the foliage of a backyard enclosure, navigating around two ponds bountiful with goldfish and a dozen multicolored koi fish, some interesting creatures have taken residence.

In addition to the parrot and the four dogs, there are Charlie the turtle and Nadine the chicken.

Charlie, a girl turtle, plays with the dogs. Nadine lays eggs.

Tony Michaud, who owns the home with Sandra Jarrett, won't eat them.

The eggs, that is.

Mind you, the man eats eggs; just not Nadine's eggs.

"It just wouldn't be right," said Michaud, 37, cradling his pet chicken in one hand, thoughtfully stroking it with the other.

Nadine and the rest of the critter crew are bonus attractions at the Hyde Park home, the second stop on this weekend's 2002 Pondscapes Pond and Water Garden Tour.

The third-annual tour of Tampa Bay's most attractive and pastoral water gardens runs Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

South Tampa-based Pondscapes, which designs and constructs water gardens for Tampa Bay area homes, holds the annual event to raise money for the Humane Society of Tampa.

To participate in the tour, pick up a map from Pondscapes at 4213 S Manhattan Ave., slightly north of Gandy Boulevard. A donation to the Humane Society is requested.

About two-thirds of the 22 homes on the tour are in Tampa, but there are also a few in Brandon, St. Petersburg and Gulfport.

Two tour stops are off the same small North Tampa street, Samy Drive in the Lake Magdalene area. San Nicholas Street in Palma Ceia also is twice represented.

Pondscapes constructed about half of the water gardens included on the tour, store manager Kevin McLeod said. The Michaud-Jarrett home is an exception. Nadine's adoptive parents installed the 4,000 gallon koi pond and 600-gallon goldfish pond.

Other tour highlights include:

A Temple Terrace front-yard pond with three levels and three waterfalls, encircled by a cobblestone walkway.

A Palma Ceia pond with three waterfalls and a stream, framed by a heavily timbered pergola.

A Tampa Heights pond with giant papyrus plants and a three-tiered waterfall surrounded by an elevated seating area.

Ponds and water gardens have become popular additions to home landscaping in recent years, said Pondscapes owner Michael A. Jones, who founded the business in 1993.

The most popular ponds sport koi, a large, intensely colorful carp native to Japan, where it is called nishikigoi. The average koi grows up to 2 to 3 feet long.

Jones' company, which employs eight people, installs several ponds every week. New clients are added to a waiting list, but it's not too long: Most new installations are done in about six weeks. The average cost is $12,000 to $14,000.

McLeod lives with Jones in a Palma Ceia home that boasts three water gardens -- but as in the past two years, their home is not on the tour. The ponds are not exactly in show condition, McLeod acknowledged. Bustling business is to blame.

"It's like the story of the cobbler's children having no shoes," McLeod said. "We've just been too busy."

-- For more information about the tour, call Pondscapes at 839-8062.

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