Please visit our Sponsors

Book Review:

A Popular Guide to Garden Ponds

Dick Mills, compiler

Salamander Books, UK


By Bob Fenner

Aquatic Gardens

Ponds, Streams, Waterfalls & Fountains:
Volume 1. Design & Construction
Volume 2. Maintenance, Stocking, Examples

V. 1 Print and eBook on Amazon
V. 2 Print and eBook on Amazon 

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

A Popular Guide to Garden Ponds compiled by Dick Mills; contributors include David Papworth, Barry James, Chris Andrews and a host of others for graphics, editing, design, et al. There is the usual list of impressive collaborators. Salamander Books Ltd. 1992. Published in the U.S.A. by Tetra Press.

Well named in this ongoing 'Popular Guide' series by Tetra, Garden Ponds is neither a how-to (DIY) manual or technical tome. It is a sturdy, perfectly-bound, inspirational, educational & handy index.

A Popular Guide to Garden Ponds serves well as an introduction & entry-level reference work for the earnest wanna-be water garden enthusiast.

Re technical layout and production matters, the arrangement is good, as is registration. The color work, however, is not as good as in other Tetra efforts.

What I Liked:

1) Layout: proceeds from Design of various types & sizes of ponds to all considerations of Construction elements to Maintenance to

Part III Plants, IV Fish(es) Selection; like how to choose and buy. Appendix I Other Livestock, and II A spiffy diary of things to look out and watch for seasonally.

2) The elaboration of formal, informal, Western, Oriental pond types and specific matters.

3) The nice chart/guideline for using pond chemicals; including concentration, treatment, range and time, and other important details.

4) The in-depth description of Japanese terms for koi and numerous examples of the same.

5) The welcome touch of writing space in the front and back for notes, reactions...

6) The welcome addition of a section on problem solving.

7) The many good recipes for growing aquatic and perimeter plant material.

8) Lavish illustrations with many 'new' photos, description and drawings.

& much more. I guess that's enough to please most any discerning grandmother's advice/demand to "say something nice"...

A Sprinkling of Errors:

1) Readability: When will 'the market' realize the need to regionalize their offerings? The English (as in the U.K.) syntax, spellings and colloquialisms apparent throughout this "Popular Guide" make it much less popular and a guide in my opinion.

A glossary of terms translating the King's Angle & pond terms into standard American is needed. Tetra is not alone in this confusion. Most 'Continental' works suffer from some careful re-editing and transliteration into the vernacular.

2) I would have discussed filtration first in design and construction... as to what the owner/designer intends & to emphasize it's importance.

3) There's much discussion or reference to the need to make sure the water basins, streams and falls are level, but no elucidation of how to do 'it'. I'm so pumped up on this issue I'm going to crank out a piece on the same topic: "On the Level; Using Carpenter, Torpedo and Water Levels".

4) I condemn some gross over-simplifications: e.g. p.16 where koi are said to require a 'minimum depth of around 1.5M (5 ft.)". Maybe in England; but ponds in many other geographies are stable enough at @ two foot of depth. Five feet is nice, but not necessary. Or page 230's launching into algicides use first as a control mechanism; rather than detailing prevention by design, construction and maintenance; then biological, and mechanical means, leaving chemical techniques for last where they belong.

5) I'd like to add a note regarding bagging/transporting large (pond) fish(es) to page 127. The shipping bags need to be oriented at a right angle to the transport vehicle's motion. This allows the organisms a safer sloshing during changes in velocity.

6) Calculating gallonage as a function of having calculated imperial gallons from metric measurements!? Why not call your mother-in-law? (p. 140). Give me a break! A more straight-forward 231 cubic inches per gallon, or about seven and a half gallons per cubic foot should be offered.


A Popular Guide to Garden Ponds is another in a growing list of pond/cold-water/aquatic garden titles worth perusing/reviewing, using and collecting by beginning to professional water gardeners. It combines lots of good idea graphics with an enjoyable, if semi-readable and complete text at a moderate cost (retails @ $15.00). I'd buy it if I were in the market for pond information.

Aquatic Gardens

Ponds, Streams, Waterfalls & Fountains:
Volume 1. Design & Construction
Volume 2. Maintenance, Stocking, Examples

V. 1 Print and eBook on Amazon
V. 2 Print and eBook on Amazon 

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: