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Perusing other people's ponds

The Pondscapes Pond and Water Garden Tour takes you to 22 ponds in the bay area.

By RICK GERSHMAN
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 3, 2002


Palma Ceia-based Pondscapes, which designs and constructs water gardens for Tampa Bay 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.

Tour highlights include:

A South Tampa home with a 4,000-gallon koi pond and a 600-gallon goldfish pond.

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 from two to three 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 once again 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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