Great ponds and other good water gardening ideas

Water gardening ideas that anyone can use.

Courtesy of Jim Fischer
Building your own backyard pond is sometimes a challenge, but the final result can be stunning.
Courtesy of Jim Fischer
Large or small, a backyard pond can make a great focal point.
Courtesy of Jim Fisher
With a neighbor's encouragement, Jim and Carol Fischer of Atlanta built their own backyard pond.

This will be my last post for “Diggin’ It.” I’ve discovered that when you blog, you keep many ideas for future writing in your mind, coming along like airplanes lined up on a runway, ready to take off.

Now this venue is closing, so these ideas will never develop into full stories here. So I want to send up three attenuated flights for those interested in water use in the garden.

One pond equals four

The first story that’s been hanging around ready to take off is about Carol and Jim Fischer’s pond construction in their Atlanta, Ga., garden. [Click through the three photos above to see the completed water garden.] It’s really about watch what you admire, you could end up getting it.

Carol liked the pond her neighbor, Dave Adams, had built in his backyard. Carol told him that she and her husband “could have a wedding here.”

Instead of playing bridal host, Dave encouraged the couple to build their own pond. Not only that, he pitched in with advice and helped see the project through. They ended up with a series of waterfalls and four pools.

A couple of of Carol’s tips-they-learned-the-hard-way

  • Check out what’s underground before you dig — the couple had to move the entire sprinkler system — and if the ground is rock hard, prepare the soil with a good soak before attempting to excavate.
  • Don’t get too carried away with the paint spray can that marks the edges of your future pond. One pond became four because Carol couldn’t stop enlarging her water spaces. There have been no weddings yet, but the result of all their labor is beautiful.

Thanks, you two, for telling me your building saga. I hope to be back in Atlanta some day to sit by the gorgeous pools off your deck. For more information on DIY pond construction, click here.

Aqua farming

The second piece was to be on gardening with water, vegetables, and edible fish, all in one system — the next big thing in sustainable gardening practices. I saw several displays at both the Southeastern Flower Show and the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.

In Atlanta, Dave Epstein of Farm in a Box Aquaponics was showing off raised vegetable beds, watered from a fish tank underneath the tables. The plants use the fish waste, and the fish themselves could be harvested for food.

Choice of fish seemed to be tilapia, but I know this is not practical in colder climates. You could check out local Extension services for fish that live in colder water..

At the San Francisco show, Inka Biospheric Systems displayed huge towers of vegetables, and some that appeared to be artistically growing in a former satellite dish. Again, they were watered from a tank below, and fish were very much on the menu.

Power could be sourced from solar, wind, and batteries for storage. In a version of a “micro farm,” I could see utilizing walls of edibles in small growing spaces. The addition of fish is interesting, but I would want more information before diving in, so to speak. For more on micro farms, click here.

The Celtic lily

The last flight of fancy was inspired when I saw Sven Schunemann's water sculpture at the San Francisco show., which was titled “Celtic Lily.” I recognized it for what it was — a classic flow form.

I’d have done a blog on the history of flow forms, how they are used, how water is enlivened by passing through a flow form, and who some of the greats are in this specific water research, like Jennifer Greene, and especially flow form creator John Wilkes.

I would like to discuss the whole idea that water itself is a living entity, that it “wants” to do certain things, that pollutants in it actually make it behave differently—even when it is considered pure enough to pass as drinking water—all are interesting subjects for another time.

I have put in the links. You can do more exploration out on the web. It’s been a real pleasure sharing with you what I have discovered about that most vital and fascinating aspect of gardening — water.

My writing on other gardening ideas continues in my “Rooting for You” column for the Hartley-Botanic Greenhouse website.

Mary-Kate Mackey is one of nine garden writers who blog regularly at Diggin' It. She is co-author of “Sunset’s Secret Gardens — 153 Design Tips from the Pros” and contributor to the “Sunset Western Garden Book,” writes a monthly column for the Hartley Greenhouse webpage and numerous articles for Fine Gardening, Sunset, and other magazines. She teaches at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism & Communication. She writes about water in the garden for Diggin’ It.


To read more by Mary-Kate, click here. The Diggin' It blog archive has everyone's posts (scroll down]. The Monitor’s main gardening page offers articles on many gardening topics.

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