supposed to be small? The reason I ask is that
I’ve never quite understood the phrase “across
the pond”. To be honest, it would probably only
make a modicum of sense to a native of the UK.
We tend to use the expression to describe the
section of ocean that separates us Brits from
our strange neighbors several thousand miles to
You’ve got it – South Canadia; otherwise known
as the good ol’ US of A. The expanse of ocean
water serves an extremely useful purpose – it
keeps us apart very effectively. Not that they
actually realize that there is anyone else
outside their borders.
Bless them. They’re just so eager. Well
“yeehah”, I can almost hear 290 million slightly
rotund people whooping and giving each other
enthusiastic ‘high fives’ without having any
reason why as they chew on their hamburgers and
Twinkies. Not that I would ever dream about
generalizing about an entire nation, of course.
I have to be honest; I don’t know how to shake
hands with many Americans. It gets a bit
confusing. They start off with this multiple
finger-pulling/clicking maneuver, then they hit
each others’ fists, first front then top to
bottom, and follow it up with a strange
forearm-bashing, tribal kind of thing. The
latter move seems to be optional.
I’m sure I’ve missed a few of the procedures,
but that’s my point; I never really know what
I’m supposed to do. Our South Canadian neighbors
just don’t seem to understand that those of the
British persuasion simply aren’t very good at
this kind of thing. We’d far rather just, well,
shake hands. It’s a lot easier, and what chaps
do, after all.
One American trait that I admire is the quest to
make life as easy as they can for themselves.
And why not? In fact, I’m all for it. Why not
spend your life doing as little work as possible
if you can? It sounds like a solid plan to me,
and I try to live by that doctrine daily.
I like to think that I am able to get out of the
car to visit an ATM, or twist that pesky can
opener by hand using good, old-fashioned wrist
action, but if I had any real degree of
motivation I’d be sprinting off to the gym every
morning for a quick swim and a workout. I’ve
lost count of the number of times I’ve promised
myself in the evening that’s exactly what I
would do the following morning, but somehow it
just never seems to work out.
There’s always a somewhat plausible subconscious
excuse; “I’ve got a monstrous hangover”, “I
think I feel a slight twinge in my right knee”,
or the all-time classic, “I really can’t be
bothered this morning” as I roll over and get an
extra hour of sleep rather than indulging in all
the exercise nonsense.
I started this meaningless ramble thinking about
ponds, believe it or not. Coincidentally,
they’re the ideal addition to a garden whose
owner really can’t be bothered. They’re perfect.
Do you have to water plants in a pond? Obviously
not. Do you need to turn the soil or worry about
insufficient drainage? You get the point.
And there are plenty of choices when it comes to
what to put in ponds in this part of the world.
Water lilies are a great start, especially for a
decent-sized pond. In fact, larger ponds produce
larger and more abundant flowers. They’re not
particularly difficult to get going either.
Fill a container up to two inches from the top
with rich garden soil, and plant the lily
upright in the center of the pot. Firm the soil
around the roots leaving the crown (where the
stems and roots connect) level with the soil
line. Add a couple of centimeters of gravel to
hold the soil in place.
Gently lower the completed planting into the
pool to a depth of about 20 centimeters over the
top of the pot. This depth should be increased
to 30 or 40cm once the plants are established.
Lotus flowers are possibly one of the unofficial
emblems of Thailand and are equally easy to
grow. These things grow from tubers – those
chunky sections of roots. Bear in mind that the
tubers are very fragile and should be handled
Plant the tuber horizontally, and do the
gravel-adding thing, in the same way as the
lilies. This time, once lowered into the water,
it should only be about 10 to 15 centimeters
over the pot. Lotus flowers crave full sun, so
make sure that they’re put in a pond that’s in
the sunniest part of the garden.
Then there are the floating plants and
oxygenating plants. These things are hardly the
most difficult plants in the world to grow, but
here are the step-by step instructions for
anyone who’s unsure:
1. Take plant out of box or plastic carrier bag;
2. Put on the surface of water; 3. Open a beer;
4. Sit down and consume beer at your leisure.
There’s no real art to them – they just kind of
float around the pond. Water lettuce are
perfect. In fact any plant that meanders around
floating on the surface will inevitably help to
keep the pond water clear and clean too. They
might even provide a bit of food for the fish.
Even though the pond might to start to look a
bit grubby after a while, it’s not a good idea
to drain the pond frequently to clean it, as
this disrupts the natural ecosystem of the pond.
The key to keeping a pond clean is to stock it
properly with the right kinds of plants from the
Equally as important is to not overstock your
pond with fish, or over-feed the ones that are
there. Too many fish will result in not enough
oxygen to go around, and rather murky water, as
they all swim around in their own…by-products.
The bottom line is that a properly-stocked pond
will prevent those rather nasty algae blooms
before they ever get started. Once your pond
gets going, the less you do, the better.
Going “across the pond” in Phuket is a
completely different experience from the
Atlantic. It won’t take anywhere near as long,
you can do so with Heineken in hand, and you’re
not quite as likely to be greeted at the far
side by a loud person whooping and trying to
slap his palm against yours in mid-air while
muttering phrases like “good jahb”. Americans
are a strange lot.
P.S. Mr Heineken Phuket representative – the
Gazette office is open from 9am to 6pm for
complimentary beer deliveries for the gardening