Plantation Water Gardens
Alders Plantation Vacation Rental has been a work-in-progress with respect to the development of ponds, streambeds and waterfalls that balance the delicate eco-system with a variety of marginal water plants, oxidation plants, frogs, ducks, fish, turtles and other amphibious creatures.
The ponds and waterfalls on each side of the main house are a fully-enclosed system: when first built, the water was added from Maxwell Lake on Salt Spring Island and is recirculated by a series of pumps and valves. In addition to the “visible” ponds, there is one more: an underground pond that is situated under the largest pond on the property. Those visiting will understand from the topography that there is a large flow of ground water from hillsides above the Plantation. That water finds its way through the hard-pan sediment and clay base on the property to the lowest point – actually under the large turtle pond. So drains were installed that take the ground water into a cistern, or underground pond, where a sump pump sends it to a 2,500-gal water tank that “gravity feeds” the gardens during the summer. If the tank is full or the ponds are low, valves will redirect the water to fill the ponds. Additional water for the ponds comes from two property perimeter drains and the six downspouts on the main house, all of which flow into the streambeds and turtle pond. Various wine kegs are placed around the property, also to catch water for plant propagation. This is very important since the community water system heavily chlorinates the water, which in turn is very detrimental to the growth and development of all plants.
Water catchment systems are nothing new to the owner; his third generation family has been using water catchment systems on the island since 1951.
The pond system at the north end of the property recirculates 7,200-gal/hr over 200 feet through seven waterfalls that provides a clean and healthy environment for all the living organisms in the ponds and stream bed. Infrastructure has been installed to run the 1500-watt pumps on a combination of solar and wind, which are fully-complementary alternative energy sources in this particular jurisdiction.
The waterfall rock is all native to Salt Spring and surrounding islands. The rough stone is a form of sandstone that can often demonstrate pocks and holes formed over the years from glacial slide and tidal movement. River rock is natural to Salt Spring, though often buried deep below the surface. There is over four tons of river rock forming the stream beds and pond bottoms on the property.
To assist in managing the delicate eco-system, oxygenating and “marginal” plants (those planted in less than 12 inches of water) assist in providing nutrients for microscopic organisms that work their way up the food chain to fish and eventually to fish predators – raccoons, heron, ducks, turtles, etc. Beginning at the bottom of the food chain, it is not necessary to “supply” these organisms to the ponds; they somehow find their way there. Tadpoles seem to show up after heavy rains, and frogs create quite the chorus at night! Algae provides additional nutrients and thrives on sunshine but can be controlled with pH management.
Lastly, the Plantation propagates water lilies and has seven varieties. These plants thrive in full sun and provide hiding places for the turtles and fish in four of the ponds. An educational note: water lilies do not like moving water, but with so many waterfalls on the property, it is very difficult to provide them their favourite habitat – still water!!