Wow factor: Enclosed pond in C.R. one of seven on Eastern Iowa Pond Society's pond tour

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Deb and Joe Holtzman don’t have to go far to feel like they’re on vacation. In fact, they don’t even have to leave their home.

Just steps from the sliding glass doors on the back of their Cedar Rapids home, the Holtzman’s screened-in watery oasis awaits. An impressive koi pond with a waterfall, rope bridge and several seating areas to sit back, relax and feed the 30-or-so fish is shielded by a greenhouse-style roof supported by wood framing and stone walls.

Joe said he loves seeing people’s expressions when they see it. It’s not uncommon to hear “wow” escape their lips, he said.

“I busted my butt on this thing,” he added. Since 2004, Joe’s spent all his free time working on the project, sometimes until 2 or 3 in the morning. Most of the work he did himself.

The idea was sparked when the couple was touring the botanical gardens in Des Moines. Deb remarked how nice it would be to have something like that in their backyard. Joe ran with it.

“My wife has done so much for me, this was the best thing I could do for her,” he said.

He didn’t think he’d live to see the finished product, but now, after more than a decade working on it and surviving an accident that nearly killed him — last November he fell off the roof trying to put plastic around the structure before winter — the project is seemingly complete and ready to be featured in the Eastern Iowa Pond Society’s pond tour on July 10.

The Holtzman’s pond is one of seven scattered throughout Cedar Rapids and Marion to be showcased to area pond and garden lovers. Four vendors also will be featured, including Bickal Koi Farm in Toddville, Kloubec Koi Farm in Amana, Prairie Creek Nursery in Cedar Rapids and In the Country Garden & Gifts in Independence. Tickets are $5, but 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward Deafinitely Dogs, a not-for-profit organization that provides trained dogs to people with disabilities.

The society has been putting on pond tours every other year for nearly 20 years, said Jackie Allsup, a member of the group with two ponds of her own in Quasqueton.

The purpose of the tour is mainly to let people know the club exists, she said. But it’s also an opportunity to show the wide range of pond possibilities — from koi ponds to botanical gardens, simple to elaborate and everywhere in between — and share tips and tricks with other pond owners or those interested in the hobby. It’s also a way to socialize, spend the day outdoors and explore hidden gems in the neighborhood.

“There’s more people in the Corridor that have ponds than you might realize,” said David Keller, another member of the society who is currently building a pond at his new home in Marion. Although it won’t be completed by July, his pond also will be featured on the tour to show the planning and execution that goes into building a pond.

“The pond tour really promotes the camaraderie and education elements (of the pond society) and exposes people to backyard landscape ideas,” he said. “People who are interested in having a pond can see a variety of designs and see what would work in their yard. Getting to see how different people do it is very helpful for people to come up with their best design.”

If you go


• Eastern Iowa Pond Society’s pond tour


• July 10 from 10 a.m. to

4 p.m., rain or shine


• 2055 H Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids

• 1323 34th St. SE, Cedar Rapids

• 3615 Honey Hill Dr. SE, Cedar Rapids

• 1010 Eighth St. SW, Cedar Rapids

• 3595 Monarch Ave., Marion

• 873 Crossbow Ct., Marion

• 1835 Ridgeview Ct., Cedar Rapids


• Bickal Koi Farm, 3653 Toddville Rd., Toddville

• Kloubec Koi Farm, 375 Baxter Ave., Amana

• Prairie Creek Nursery, 4100 Bowling St. SW, Cedar Rapids

• In the Country Garden & Gifts, 2587 Quasqueton Diagonal Rd., Independence


• $5, goes toward Deafinitely Dogs, available in advance at vendor locations or at any pond the day of the tour

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