A small pond encompassed by miniature trees is what welcomes you to Mumbaz Adam’s beautiful home in Nyali, Mombasa.
For this gardener, the idea was to cultivate an intimate green space around their house.
The garden with a pond has miniature trees in pots, plants floating on the water, a swing and seats. It is like walking into a tiny paradise.
Ms Adam built the pond five years ago. It is like a welcoming spot for visitors. She planted the floating green water cabbage as well as papyrus reeds. A bonsai tree in the middle completes the aesthetic of the small ecosystem.
“I once planted peace lilies in the pond,” says Ms Adam, adding that the little water body requires frequent maintenance to uphold its glory.
Watching the small multi-coloured guppy fish jumping in the water is soul-healing. These tropical fish, among the most popular in aquariums, play a major role of eating the mosquito larvae that breed on the water cabbage. To scare away mosquitoes, a gardener can also grow jasmine plants.
To keep her guppies healthy, Ms Adam also gives them fish food and bread crumbs.
Establishing a small water feature in a homestead is easy. The gardener said her husband built the pond using recycled building stones and tiles. They only bought cement and paid for labour.
The pond is raised two-and-half feet and it occupies a small area just before the entrance of the house.
Beside it is a makuti shade where one can sit during a sunny day or just to watch the fish in the pond.
A pond in a garden can be permanent or movable. It can also be placed in the back or front yard and patio to add glamour and bring a dull space to life.
One can do a water landscape to make the pond more attractive. The pond bottom, the arrangement and type of plants also count.
“The plants in the pond should not be too overcrowded or too few so as to look balanced. Stones can be arranged thoughtfully at the bottom of the water to create an attractive aquascape. Also logs, sticks and bamboo can be used,” says Ms Adam who is also a landscaper.
Peace lilies, papyrus reeds, water grass and water cabbage also known as water lettuce are among the best plants to grow in small ponds.
The pond requires clean water. Inlet and outlet in the ponds should be established because in the first three months, the pond water needs to be changed on daily basis to prevent odour.
“We placed piped water to let in water into the pool and created an outlet at the side of the pond as the water plants and the fish were still acclimatising to their new home,” says Ms Adam. She adds that a pond has some bearable odour but not always.
Also, the water level should be maintained. During the rainy season, she draws water for her plants from the pond.
Good drainage facility should be established around the pond to ease the flow of excess water during the rainy season hence preventing the fish from spilling out.
The water cabbage grows and spreads very fast. The plant covers half of Ms Adam’s pond and it is only a week old.
“I have to decongest the pond from the water cabbage after every two weeks. The water cabbage is so invasive and not advisable for large water bodies,” says Ms Adam who feeds the water cabbage to the turtles in her garden.
She also gives them away to her friends and the customers.
“They are called “lucky plants” maybe because they multiply faster and some people place them in water basins in front of the house,’’ says Ms Adam, adding that the potted plants can be placed around the pond to deter children from accessing it.