Friday, 8 August 2014

July 2014 Club Night at Paul Randall's Pond and Gardens

So on a bright and sunny 09 July 2014, the Kangei members visited Paul Randall's pond and gardens. This wasn't just a pond visit (three outdoors and two growing-on tanks) because Paul's collection of succulents is one of, if not the best in the UK. From conversations during the evening I also understand he is also looking to be awarded the "national collection for succulents".


​So to start, some history about Paul's koi keeping hobby. He began his fishkeeping as a young lad and happily tripped along for many years with simple ponds as he moved from home to home. Somewhere along the line Paul became intrigued with (in his words) the "wallet-sapping hobby of koi keeping". From speaking with him, it's appears the numerous and mysterious filters / gadgets available at his 'next door garden centre' was also a big draw.

After this initial excitement, Paul dug a hole (to be his first koi pond) and then returned to the koi section of his local shop to buy everything he needed in one simple visit. I was only then that the total complexity of the challenge ahead revealed itself. Amusingly his initial visit resulted in "this is going to cost more money for what I want than I thought". Following a few weeks of planning and thought there was a second visit and the initial setup including pipework, slide valves and manifold (!!), vortex, biological filter, media and uv was bought; so he came away with what he considered to be the full monty.

Encouraged by his experience of his newly build 1.5k gallon butyl pond, filtration and some very nifty koi, Paul joined a koi club (Chiltern Section of the BKKS). As is always the case visiting other member's ponds was a real eye-opener. The setups were all different, they appeared to have huge fish with very well stocked biology labs plus a hospital operating theatres. This was the sign of things to come.


Since moving to Paul and Loretta's new home seven years ago they have been busy. The main koi pond was build two years ago and is a lovely example of a raised pond with the window. His filtration works well although he considers it old fashioned by today's standards. It consists of two aerated bottom drains with each one feeding an independent large vortex and nexus 310 combination. There is additionally a gravity fed eazypod on the skimmer line. The one thing I did notice was the significant number of pumps (five) and air pumps (seven I think). As you will see below everything is extremely organised (there is even a 2.5m air pump shelf!!).

Paul also one grand champion and best koi collection in last years Kangei Garden Show so he is certainly doing many things well.

As well as the main pond, Paul has a fantastic growing on house. This large chalet style building has two tanks each with full frontal windows that look absolutely superb. I also admired his fully stocked floor to ceiling treatment shelf so he is definitely prepared for any health problems.






Just beyond the growing on house, at the far end of the garden, there is also a large garden pond accompanied by duck house and island.



As if looking after the ponds wasn't enough Paul also has a glorious garden that is full of succulent plants from all around the world. They really are something to behold and the effort required to dig them up before the winter, place them in the numerous greenhouses and then replant them after the last frosts in spring is inspiring. I hope the following pictures of the gardens and planting do it justice.












Our next monthly meeting on the 13 August 2014 will be a visit to Tim Morphy's ponds and new growing on house. The full address will be emailed out to all members. This is definitely one I'm looking forward to.
























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