Koi Pools: Living Kaleidoscopes
Art In Landscape: Series Part III
By Mary and Hugh Williamson
Of all the possible elements that can appear in your landscape, none is more dynamic or ever-changing than a koi pool. While not suitable for a balcony, they can be very effectively incorporated as Kaleidoscope Art in a garden, the lobby of larger residential buildings or the entrance to a residential tower.
History of KOI
Koi are ornamental carp, bred for color and pattern. Carp were first “aquacultured” in China as a food source more than 1,500 years ago, and because they were so adaptable to varying climates, their popularity spread. In Japan, the practice of breeding for color that began in China continued and became very popular. Many varieties have resulted, fascinating gardeners around the world since they first came to world attention during the 1914 Exhibition in Tokyo. That was when appreciation of these beautiful creatures burgeoned. Many flamboyant varieties have continued to be developed, enjoyed and coveted.
Many landscape designs such as Zen gardens invite contemplation, but interestingly designed Koi pools provide a constantly shifting mix of color and movement. The inclusion of “marginal plants,” which do splendidly in a few inches of water, along with floating plants such as water lilies, frame your views and support a sound living environment for the fish, without chemicals or excessive use of energy.
Koi are both entrancing to look at and surprisingly interactive. They have very definite and individual personalities. When selecting Koi for a pool, look for pleasing color and a “friendly” disposition. It is easy to train a koi to eat commercial food from your fingers and to await feeding time every day. There are guidelines used in the competitive judging of koi; pattern variations, attention to the preferred oval shape, and the proportion of body to fin size that reflect the great diversity in appearance. As you warm to the theme, it is likely that you will seek high-quality, rare specimens.
If you decide to undertake a Koi pool project, seek professional services to develop the right eco-system for the fish, as well as for a strong visual setting that embraces and enhances this spectacular example of art in the landscape. You’ll need advice on skimmers, pumps, filters and lights; all worth the effort for the beauty and entertainment that is the result.