Sunday, May 23, 2010

Water Garden During the Day

Since we had a night time visit to the Water Garden yesterday, I thought it appropriate to take a look during the daylight hours. The tornadoes, hail and heavy rains missed us by about 10 miles Friday night. We got about an inch and a half of rain. Just enough to freshen the Water Garden and water all the plants. Most of the plants are natives that came up on their own. I do a little bit of weeding and trimming, but the plants are mostly maintenance free.

The bridge is used to get to the area between the Water Garden and the house. At my daughter’s request, the bridge and pool were designed so we could sit and hang our legs in the water. The milkweed to the left of the bridge showed up last year. I’m hoping a Monarch butterfly places a couple of eggs there this summer so I can watch the caterpillars develop.

Violets, Dark-green Bulrush and Small-flowered Water Plantain all crowd the spillway that delivers fresh rain water into the large pool. As the Water Garden ages, small pockets and folds in the liner collect debris that supports root growth. Plants are no longer restricted to my submerged pots.

This began as a pot of Dark-green Bulrush. Several additional species now share the pot and the vegetation mat has bridged the gap between the pot and the side of the pool.

The area between the pool and the house is 70 percent native plants. The remaining plants are those typical weedy species found in most lawns or flower beds. The percentage of natives increases each year. The dominant native species is the Orange Coneflower, an aggressive plant that tends to crowd out its neighbors. Each year it shoots up to about three feet tall and then flops over into the water.

In one corner I’ve planted some species commonly found along the creek. Jacob’s Ladder forms an almost solid mat. Bluebells, in the lower right corner, have finished for the year and are dying back.

Somewhere in the mass of Great Bulrush roots are three pots that held the original colonists. I usually remove the dead stalks after the ice melts, but this year there were salamander eggs on a couple of the stalks, so I left them alone.

This juniper shrub was present in a much smaller form when I built the Water Garden. It was planted before I decided to landscape with all natives and was advertised to grow to a maximum height of four feet. Two years ago it was 13 feet tall. I’ve been cutting away at it a little at a time, trying to get it back down to a manageable size. I figured that it would do well here since the native junipers thrive. At least my assumptions were sound. As far as I can tell, Cardinals and Song Sparrows both have nests with young in there right now. I see the birds going in and out all day and hear the peeps of small birds.

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