As we looked for a good place to build a koi farm, we were drawn to this property. We first visited the site in late July. The figs were ripening and we fell in love with the simple 1830's mud and moss cottage. The cottage was shaded by several ancient pecans and a grove of black walnuts. The house had not been lived in for many years and was being used to store hay. It needed a lot of work. There were holes in the roof and rotting floors - quite a challenge - but the surrounding plants that included crabapples, mayhaws, old daylillies, oaks - gave the site a charm that we loved. So we restored the cottage, landscaped the gardens, put in the road and set about creating Purdin Koi Farm.
The House Garden
A rustic cedar arbor planted with muscadines, and what will eventually become a clipped hornbeam arch, lead to the garden gate. Inside the white fence is a combination kitchen garden, fruit orchard, and terrace garden. The Terrace garden is planted with mostly evergreen shrubs and small trees, providing a composition of shades of greens and foliage textures. Old roses and perennials provide seasonal color and fragrance. The front fig orchard is laid in long rectangular beds, a utilitarian pattern typical of early Louisiana gardens, and originally medieval gardens in Europe. Vegetables, citrus trees and herbs fill the two side gardens.
The Iris Trough
Exiting the back gate, a path lined with boxwoods from Susan's grandmother's garden leads to the iris trough. A fish gargoyle from Mexico guards this concrete runnel which was originally part of our system to remove iron from the well water. The well water is no loner used but the Iris trough remains and provides a burst of Spring color when the Louisiana Iris's are in bloom and leads down, between an avenue of Live Oaks to the Tea House which separates two 35,000 gallon outdoor ponds.
The Fish Barn
The greenhouse-looking picante red barn holds five concrete ponds that range in size from 1200 gallons to 25,000 gallons. Each pond has its own filtration system. This is where our koi can be seen and purchased. The ponds in the Fish Barn combined with the 7 outdoor concrete ponds and several small glass fibre holding tanks, give Purdin Koi Farm over 130,000 gallons of water to house our fish for sale. The fish barn was designed by John Wallace. John helped do the Wonderwall in New Orleans. His (great-great) and even more great grandfather was a Texas Ranger. And maybe some of that gumption helped create this "koi ranch" as he likes to call it; his personal brand of "Texas deco" and "Japanese schtick."
Many people have helped make the koi farm what it is. My wife, Susan, did her usual awesomely beautiful landscape layout -- no one knows where to put a road any better than my wife. John Wallace and Deborah Warner designed the fish barn or "ranch" and along with Susan helped remodel the cottage. Marion Drummond was the ultimate plant source. Boyd Newman, Frank Allain, and Ron Gisler restored the cottage. Boyd stayed on to manage the farm until 2006 and in 2010 Bill and Maureen McGurk joined the team from UK. John North put in the twenty-five foot deep main drain. Dan Earle designed and built the Forest Garden. David Lewis and John Welch planted the cottage garden. I am blessed with many friends and talented workers. I am especially thankful to my daughter Amanda who helped me cull through that first batch of babies and indirectly is why all this came to be and Susan's dad, Bert (sadly no longer with us), for not discouraging me from attempting such a daunting business.