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Updated: 06.30.24

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Herons eating your koi? Here’s how to save them

Herons

Don’t miss our biggest weekend of the year!

We will be open Mother’s Day Weekend – bring mom or grandma for a day of peace and joy at the garden center. We’re located just five minutes outside Monroe and have an incredible weekend planned. We also have our annual Open House for our wedding venue on Saturday, May 11.

In this month’s newsletter, we take a look at how to combat the damage done by herons and other predators to your pond and feature a fish that’s NOT a koi! 

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Mother’s Day at Falling Water Gardens

Every year, we pack out the garden center for our annual Mother’s Day celebration and this year won’t disappoint! We’ll be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Our hanging baskets are an annual favorite – you’ll find these beauties along the main walkway as well as in the greenhouse. We will also have special pricing on many items across the garden center, treats and refreshments and a free plant for mom!

The gardens will be in rare form, with each space at full beauty! Come see the show ponds, the garden stream, the lake and the waterfalls. Take in the stunning florals in our formal sunken wedding garden. Visit with the critters: chickens, pigeons and peacocks in the aviary, and our goats and alpacas in the back pasture.

If you or the mom in your life loves gardening, this is the place to be. We have an incredible selection of eclectic garden art (check out our instagram!) as well as plants and flowers. If you’re into water gardening, we have the largest catalog of aquatic plants and fish in the Pacific Northwest!

We also offer gift cards so mom can come back in and shop with us if you can’t make it for Mother’s Day.

How to stop herons from eating your koi

As your koi or goldfish start to become more active with warmer weather, that can put them in danger to predators – especially raccoons and herons. During the winter months they stay near the bottom of the pond and out of reach.

Raccoons and herons can be very troublesome to fish and pond owners. There’s nothing worse than looking down at your lovely pond to find that all of your precious fish have suddenly disappeared! Here are a few ideas we’ve come across for battling predators like herons and raccoons.

Depth and Size

Our biggest recommendation when creating your pond is to have steep sides and at least a depth of three feet. Having steep sides on your pond can help with raccoons because they will not enter water that they can’t wade into. If your pond is deeper than 2 feet they will not be able to harm your fish because they typically can’t hold onto a fish while swimming.

The easiest way to prevent herons from cleaning out your fish is to have a pond depth of at least 3 feet. Herons cannot stand in 3 feet of water, and therefore makes it more difficult for them to fish.

Plants

It sounds kind of odd but actually if you have heavily planted bog or marginal plants around your pond can deter animals. Submerged plants can offer some shelter for your fish.

Tunnels and Caves

You can create tunnels or caves easily using milk crates or a piece of drainpipe in the bottom of your pond to give your fish some place to hide and seek shelter from predators.

Netting

Pond netting is a good solution for deterring herons. We recommend putting the net a good 1 foot or more above your pond.

The reason for this is that the higher the netting the less likely the heron is to get your fish. If you place the net right above the pond the heron will still be able to get your fish but will just not be able to get it out.

Pond netting does not work for keeping raccoons out because they are extremely crafty. We recommend something like a motion activated sprinkler or electric fence to keep them out.

Decoys/Scarecrows

Another way to keep heron away is to have a heron decoy or another item they may think is a predator.

Typically there are owls, coyotes, snakes, and crocodiles. It is said that herons like to hunt alone so if there is another “heron” they will most likely leave and not bother the pond/fish. If they think a predator is around they’re not going to risk getting eaten. It is recommended if you get a heron decoy that you move the decoy around every few days/weeks so that the real heron can’t tell.

We have a fish decoy called de-koi, which is tethered it floats closer to the surface. The heron doesn’t like to expend extra energy if they don’t have to — it thinks it’s getting an easy meal, which gives the real koi time to escape and hide.

Here are a few beauties that are currently in bloom at the garden center!

Darmera Peltata (Indian Rubarb)

Find these near the main display pond by the front entrance!

Indian rhubarb has tall pink flower spikes in mid spring followed by 1-2 feet wide leaves atop tall stalks. It provides an almost tropical effect to the otherwise woodland setting. Usually grown in the shade, it will nonetheless do well in full sun where the leaves turn a bright red in fall. The large rhizomes cling to rocks and dip their tails into the water, looking like green lobster tails.

Scirpus Zebrinus (Zebra Rush)

We have Zebra Rush in our aquatic plants section near the greenhouse.

For those who love the variegation of Zebra Grass, Scirpus tabernaemontani ‘Zebrinus’ offers that same color combination in a rush to complement the other bog and marsh plants in the water garden. Zebra Rush has tapered tubular stems that are horizontally banded with green and white and grows to 30″. It performs best in wet soils and full sun.

Polemonium Reptans (Creeping Jacob’s Ladder)

This beautiful light purple/blue wildflower can be found next to the barn, just off the main walkway. They feature clusters of bell-shaped flowers with colorful green, cream and reddish leaves. These are a perennial, great as a ground cover and excellent in shade or rock gardens. Flowers mid-spring to early summer.

Iris

A very, very popular perennial – you’ll find these all over the garden center as part of our display ponds as well as in our aquatic plant section near the greenhouse. They come in many, many shapes and colors and are the perfect plant in moist borders, at the edge of ponds or streams, or even in pots plunged halfway to the rim in water gardens.

Variegated foliage will brighten any woodland or damp garden setting. The exquisite blooms emerge in early to midsummer; earlier in mildest regions. An herbaceous perennial

PLANT DATABASE

Have you checked out our plant database? It contains information about the plants that we sell at the nursery and more!

We have even taken it one step further and have incorporated QR codes into the database to help you save and recall information on the plants you are interested in at home or have bought from our nursery. You can bring us the saved plants from this data base to help us locate the ones you want. As well as when you come to Falling Water Gardens, you will be able to scan the plant signs to get further information about the plants and flowers.

Two fish we don’t talk about quite as much are a pair of goldfish varieties, Shubunkin and Sarasa goldfish.

Sarasa are similar in coloring to the popular Kohaku koi variety – white background with solid red markings. You can easily spot these fish in our goldfish tanks, and they look great in small and large goldfish ponds as well!

Shubunkins have a calico pattern, often with red markings on a white background and speckled with black. They feature deeply forked tails and longer fins than sarasa goldfish and are a striking addition to ponds!

Looking for tips on how to care for your koi or goldfish pond on your own? Visit our Help section on the website to learn how to net your pond, check your pH, clean your water feature and more!

It’s our annual open house, and the chance to see the venues here at the Garden Center in a mock wedding setup!

We’ll have dozens of vendors on site, everything from photographers and florists to cake designers and wedding planners. 

Tour one of three venue options at the garden center, including our stunning formal sunken garden, the upper lawn by the footbridge and the labyrinth. We have a great virtual tour of the garden center, but it’s best to see the place in person!

RSVP on our wedding website!