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Unlock The Secrets Of Water Gardens

Jan 23, 2008
By the water garden we mean a garden of plants growing actually in water or in the saturated ground adjacent to water where the soil is periodically submerged. Few features in a garden are more attractive and interesting than the water garden. The pond selected for the water garden can be large or small; it may be constructed by damming off a section of a river, or a tiny stream may be utilized to provide the water supply.

It is, however, useless to attempt water gardening unless a continuous supply of water, the year through, is available. A very small amount, even a trickle artificially laid on, will suffice, providing it is continuous. But a water garden which is liable to dry up in the summer is a sure source of disappointment.

Where a stream exists, the difficulty of creating a pond is a comparatively small one, granted that by some means, such as a sluice, the flow of water may be regulated; sudden rushes of water in flood times are disastrous to many plants, for example, Nymphceas, Nuphars, etc.


In moist pockets are planted the bog or marsh plants, those requiring four to six inches of water over their crowns being set under water lower down the bank, while a shade higher up the moist shelf should be grouped those subjects flourishing on cool, moist, swampy banks. The bottom of the pond should be covered with a layer of soil some twelve inches deep, in which the purely aquatic plants may root.

The plants which may suitably be grown in and around a pond naturally vary with its size. If the pond is large, such water-lilies as Nymphcea Marliacea, N. Gladstoniana, and N. colossea may be grown, also Nuphar advena, Stratiotes aloides, and Sagittaria. Intermixed with these may be grouped such vigorous plants as Alisma, Hottonia palustris, Aponogeton distachyum, Cyperus longus, and C. vegetus. The giant Mace Reed (Typha latifolia) should be included wherever space permits.

Where the pond is a small one, there are dwarf water-lilies which occupy a comparatively little space, among the most beautiful being Nymphcea odorata minor, N. tetragona, and N. Laydekeri fulgens. These have the further advantage of growing freely and well in as little as a foot of water. Nymphceas cannot feed on water alone, and the soil of their pond or the water around their roots must be enriched, if they are to do really well. This is best done by means of small balls of cow-manure mixed with straw or litter to bind it, made firm, and thrown into the water round the roots of the plants just as the young growth is starting.

Care Of The Water Garden

Once planted, many of the aquatic and marsh plants are better if left undisturbed and are only lifted and replanted when they appear to be unhealthy and ailing. Others, however, are much like hardy herbaceous perennials in their requirements and do best if they are lifted, divided, and replaced every third or fourth spring. Some of the water-lilies make tremendous leaf-growth and consequently little bloom, for the leaves cover the surface of the water and prevent the sun's rays from playing on it.

This warming of the water by the sun's rays is essential to most aquatics, especially the Nymphceas, or water-lilies. The strong leaf-growth must, therefore, be periodically cut away in the spring, and, if necessary, the roots should be divided. This thinning-out will produce more bloom on the plant and will restore adequate breathing-space to its neighbours.

Many people are troubled with an objectionable slimy green growth called Blanket Weed. It may be disposed of by adding one ounce of copper sulphate or half an ounce of potassium permanganate to every fifteen thousand gallons of water in the pond. A second application should be made a week later, should the first have proved unsuccessful. These solutions will harm neither plants nor fish.

These are just a few of the initial steps which need to be taken to create a beautiful water garden. The rest you will no doubt learn from your own experience. Happy gardening!
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