Wednesday Vignette – koi buffet

To the great excitement of visitors, and the equally outsized dread of the garden staff, there was a Heron scoping out the juicy fish swimming in the large pond at LanSu. With the Lotus dying back and subsequently less spots for the fish to hide, its timing was, of course, impeccable. This prompted a conversation with one of the staffers. Apparently, Herons can be an expensive problem to have. How does one maintain the quiet authenticity of the garden and the pond without losing all the koi to these long-legged marauders?


Heron fishing

Patience is a virtue… and if I stand still enough, they won’t even know I’m here.                                                                                   (I was so mad at myself for cutting the reflection’s head off….)

Heron on roof 3

Actually, the view is far better from up on the roof…

Lan Su from above

Obviously, you flat-footed humans, you get a much better overview from up high.

Heron on roof 2

Even more so from this particular perch. Great view – I like a menu with pictures!

White koi



I can totally see the garden’s allure to Herons, with these high-contrast bottom-feeders blissfully gliding around without a care in the world. What would you do if you were the one responsible for the well-being of expensive fish? I floated the idea of maybe  installing some sort of discreet metal or plastic grating under the water surface in areas where the fish like to gather, where they could be safe hiding underneath. It might do the job of frustrating the Herons, but in such shallow waters, it would probably be too visibly obvious when the water plants around these “islands” go dormant. Alternately, how about planting some dense, evergreen aquatic that would form a floating cover? Or would that look too messy? Some of those aquatics can get pretty rampant… I can well understand the staffs’ panic when they see these large-winged creatures swoop in on their dinner prey. In their shoes, what would you do? Laws prohibit doing any harm to the birds, so you can’t go there… Thoughts?

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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18 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – koi buffet

  1. Splendid photography. Nature in operation – you can’t beat it. Bad luck about the reflected head.

  2. bergstromskan says:

    Wonderful start of the day, thank you Anna. Enjoy it if you can’t fix it??

  3. Tina says:

    Set up an endowment to replace the koi after the herons have enjoyed. 🙂 Kidding aside, I’m sure it’s frustrating, but I kind of agree with derrick–it’s a nature thing, hard to “fix” by humans and thank goodness for that. Great shots, Anna–though I sympathize with the lack-of-reflective-head-thing! I was just telling my husband that you’re visiting LanSu–we both sighed. My little ditty for today:

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks Tina – and why not? There are endowments for just about everything… You are right, you can’t really fix it. Besides, it adds some fascinating drama to an otherwise supremely calm space. I like that conflicting element! Hope you and your husband can make it back here to revisit one day!

  4. Kris P says:

    Great photos. I asked the staff at our botanic garden how they protect the koi in their pond. I was told that the wood arbor over the pond helps to keep the flying predators at bay (hard for birds to swoop in I guess) and the relatively deep but angled pond protects the koi from raccoons (which I think is an even bigger problem in this area).

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks, Kris! There are walkways over portions of the pond there too, but I wonder about the intellectual capacity of these pampered, captive carp to steer clear of looming dangers. Are they smart enough to stay out of sight? I really wonder…

  5. Andrew has sent me photos of the Herons hanging out at Tanner Creek this week (he walks through on his way to work), they’re standing oh so still next to the floating walkways just waiting for a fish to venture out from it’s hiding place. They let him walk just a few inches away without moving.

  6. I’ve noticed the Chicago Botanic Garden has both koi and herons in their lagoons. I wonder what they do? Perhaps give away the koi and stock with cheaper fish – maybe plain old goldfish?

    • annamadeit says:

      I’m sure botanical gardens world wide must have inter-garden problem-solving networks. I mean, birds eat fish, so they all have to deal with it. It would be interesting to see how CBG deal with it – I’m sure their resources are greater.

  7. tonytomeo says:

    Do herons taste like chicken?

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