Sunday, July 25, 2010

Water Garden Mud Flat

I’ve never doubted the wisdom of putting a water garden outside the front door to my house. It has been a constant source of entertainment and educational opportunities.

Each summer the water garden displays a phenomenon that I have come to call the artificial mud flat. The bottom of the water garden is a plastic liner that leaves little to which aquatic plant roots can anchor. The water lilies were originally planted in containers that gave plenty of room for root growth. The roots have long since left those containers and now sprawl far from the pots. Eventually, they reach a point where their buoyancy brings them to the surface along with a healthy load of bottom detritus. Once it surfaces, the mat is quickly consumed by tadpoles and the roots once more head for the bottom. While it exists, tiny flies track the surface like flocks of shorebirds. The whole sequence is quite interesting, even though it’s not something you can plan for.

The water lily leaves got blasted by two hail storms. The leaves now bear scars of the encounter. Most plants didn’t suffer at all from the hail. The floating leaves were perfectly positioned to allow penetration by the hail stones.

Male mayflies have been swarming above the water garden. They adopt a bouncing flight pattern designed to attract females. The long front legs are used to capture and hold the female during mating.

The bulrush is looking like a set of glow tubes as it catches the setting sun. The idea of having tall plants to the back of the water garden and short plants in front worked fine until the plants produced seed and developed their own arrangement.


  1. Steve, it's lovely! Not a source for mosquitoes? What a smart idea! ~karen

  2. Very pretty! We have similar plants in our gold fish pond in the back garden. Our pond came with the more-than-100-year-old house when we bought it 31 years ago. With a concrete bottom, we have the same "rooting" situation. We have gold fish that eat any mosquitoes that think they will be able to breed there. Our pond is self sufficient except for the tank de-icer we put in during the winter to keep the water from totally freezing.

  3. Steve...I think having a pond is great....I enjoy my little one !!!
    I have some snails in mine about the size of a quarter and lots of smaller least 3 frogs...and 6 goldfish that go absolutely crazy when they hear me coming !!
    Your water looks pretty you do anything to it...and do you have to add water from time to time???
    I have no idea what my pond lilies live on....there down about 20 inch and have a large mass of roots that I had to anchor down with a rock!!!
    Great picture of the Mayfly since there isnt much to him to photograph...looks like a peaceful spot your pond!!!

  4. Karen – There are way too many predators living in the water garden for mosquitoes to survive.

    Lois – It sounds like a neat water garden. Mine usually gets a layer of ice 6 to 8 inches thick each winter.

    grammie g – The tadpoles eat any algae and tend to keep the water clear. The water garden is filled by rainwater from the roof, so there’s fresh water added every time it rains.

  5. The raccoons around here have destroyed every plant I have tried to grow in our little garden pond. After 3 years of effort with various different plants, i finally gave up. Now the raccoons pull out the algae in search of dragon fly larvae and tadpoles. I now just keep the pond so that the birds and other wildlife have fresh water around. I am very envious of your pond! It looks terrific.

  6. Wilma - Raccoons sometimes get into the water garden. There seem to be a lot of other things around here that they find more interesting, so water garden damage is rare.