Water Gardening and Plants
Water gardens are some of the most relaxing and beautiful features in any outdoor space. Color, sound light and texture combine to relax and delight us. Many people are intimidated by the labor and expense of establishing a pond, but a water garden need not be elaborate. Take a container that holds water, add a plant or two, and presto- it’s a water garden. The roots of the plants provide oxygen and keep the water clean, so that while a pump adds movement and sound, it is not necessary as long as the surface of the water is at least 50% covered with plants. Mosquitoes are usually not a problem, but you can add mosquito dunks or the little mosquito fish to your garden if you wish.
Water gardening in a container follows the same design formula of any container planting- Thrill. Fill. Spill. That is, something tall, something to add mid height mass, and something to spill over the edge of the pot. The pure simplicity of a single plant in a container works as well.
The plants used in water gardens are generally a hardy lot- easy to grow and requiring only minimal care. They can be divided into three categories: floaters, such as water hyacinths and water lettuce, marginal plants that need shallow water, and deep water plants like water lilies and lotus.
The lotus is actually a perfect container plant for a deck or garden. The magnificent leaves and flowers should be seen close up. Additionally, the leaves’ ability to cause water to bead up and roll around like drops of mercury is endlessly fascinating to kids and adults alike. While most water lilies are too large, there are a number of dwarf ones with small scale leaves and flowers that are great for a container.
The marginal plants offer the most scope for color, size and texture. Some, like papyrus and cattails are mainly associated with the water garden, but many plants normally associated with the flower garden, such as cardinal flower, many types of iris, creeping jenny and Mexican petunia can be used in the water garden as well.
Once you have enjoyed a container water garden for a while, the idea of a larger pond or water feature may not seem so intimidating.