Friday, October 29, 2010

Water Garden Maintenance

The water garden could certainly take care of itself, but since it’s just outside the front door, I do some periodic maintenance to keep it from looking too scary in the eyes of visitors. The frost did in most of the flowers, so I’ve begun cutting and removing the dead stalks. The yellow flower in the foreground is a potted mum that was set there after being won as a door prize at some kind of local function. You can’t seem to go anywhere in the fall without winning a potted mum.

Most of the plants around the water garden have arrived on their own. Unless they are of a noxious variety, I usually leave them alone. The Virginia Three-seeded Mercury put on a wonderful show this year.

Three-seeded Mercury doesn’t have much of a bloom. The beauty is in the multi-lobed bracts that enfold the flowers. The bracts and leaves developed an unusually bright orange color this year. They made quite an attractive border.

The Orange Coneflowers meet the end of the season as a tangled mass. I always begin by cutting the stems at one end of the patch and rolling the cut plants forward. When I reach the other end, I pick up the whole mess like a roll of carpet and carry it to the compost pile.

I always wait until plants have completely died back before cutting. There’s still fresh green growth in the center of this clump of reeds. Sometimes I leave them all winter, just to give something of interest sticking through the ice.

Removal of the Coneflower stalks reveals the fresh plants that will provide the blooms for next year. Exposure to harsh winter conditions doesn’t harm the basal leaves and I believe the extra exposure to the sunlight actually thickens the stand.

Another reason for removing the dead stalks is to bring sunlight to the spring flowering plants that will be growing through the winter. This is a young Jacob’s Ladder. These plants would survive beneath the dead growth of the coneflowers, but they would be less vigorous and produce far fewer flowers. Since it’s right outside my door, I want to see the oversized plants with a profusion of blooms; even if it’s not what you would normally see in a more natural setting.


  1. Hi your spare time and since I fell and can't get alot of my fall clean up done..I was wondering if you would pop over and do a little clean up for : }
    I was wondering if you leave the water in your pond or do you cover,drain or what??
    I have left half the water the last few years and float a soccer sized ball to keep it from freezing over totally !
    Do you ever see any ice skating mice on you pond....just wondering?? ; }

  2. Hey, grammie g. I had a few free minutes this evening so I thought I would come over and give you a hand with your chores. I got down to the end of the road, but I couldn't tell what the fastest route to Maine would be from there. While I was thinking about it, the sun went down, so I came back home. Maybe later.

    I leave the water garden full all winter. Some years it develops quite a thick layer of ice. I've seen mice on the ice twice or thrice which was nice.