News and Events

Botanical Buzz - Koi (Flowers of the Water)

Friday, June 19, 2015

When next you come to the Japanese Garden lean over the bridge rail and stare at one of the giant, blubber lipped Koi mouthing sweet nothing back at you.  Spare a thought for why he looks so dazed and muddle headed. 

The KSA (Koi Society of Australia) make special mention of what they call Kohaku (white Koi with red markings).    We have some in our pond and are highly regarded in Japan.   Other colour combinations are also highly regarded including the gold on black.  

To keep our Koi with some natural company we have a Persimmon Tree (or Kaki in Japanese) planted right on the edge of pond.  This tree represents a connection with our sister city Minokamo in Gifu Prefecture, Japan.    Minokamo is well renowned for the high quality persimmon fruit that is produced.  In the early 1600s the Japanese warload Ieyasu Tokugawa passed through the area and after sampling the dried persimmon on offer declared that they were the “sweetest he had enjoyed.”  Ieyasu went on to ultimately win the campaign and eventually unified Japan, with the Tokugawa shogunate lasting for the next 265 years.

For some, like Ieyasu Tokugawa, the Persimmon is a gourmet delight.  Others become nauseated by such luscious sweetness.  I also found out why our Koi often seem “muddle headed” in the section of the pond under the Persimmon.  While the Persimmon is safe to eat, high in calories, rich in Potassium, fibre and Vitamin A, the fruit is reported to have a slight narcotic effect.  Pound the fruit and drop it into the water and the fish become stupefied and easily caught.

On your next visit to the garden, ask the staff for some fish food to coax the fish up to the bridge.  While you are there, try and identify as many different colour combinations as you can.