The water feature the new National Butterfly Center Visitor Pavilion has already become a hit though it is young in age. Of course what kid doesn’t like to look at fountains and water but once the Japanese Koi come up to feed it is has a whole new meaning to the word thrilling.
It seems wherever you go garden centers have a special section dedicated to the water garden. Ours at the National Butterfly Center is larger than you would choose for home and now I can tell you it is much easier than you might think. It can truly be a do-it-yourself project.
Water features can create a mood like no other part of the garden especially if you incorporate sound or movement of the water. It also becomes a place to gather, sit, watch and relax. Any landscape can be made more enjoyable with water. Water adds a soothing, calming element to a hectic world.
When we think about water features, words like active and passive come to mind. Because our water feature is large I am able to get both, depending whichever feeling or mood I want.
Passive water moves only by a breeze like a pond. We have all watched the wind create tiny ripples on a pond. But with the addition of plants like irises, lilies ferns, and umbrella plants your passive water pond then becomes a wonderful and unique garden.
At one end of our garden we have established native cattails and have started a little sedge. These plants seem to be a great gathering place for damselflies and dragonflies. If you think flowers can’t be pretty in a water garden you haven’t looked at water lilies lately. We have both pink and pastel yellow selections.
Active water is different in that it moves, such as a cascading, rocky waterfall or a babbling brook. Active water features open up a new sensory perception – sound. In the middle of our feature you hear the bubbling of a fountain and see the ripples move outward.
It is peaceful and soothing to listen to water move. This is evident in all of the compact discs sold that have water sounds to help listeners relax. You are even finding these in fancier hotel rooms now.
Waterfalls are also extra special in that they create vertical movement. Water also can flow out of decorative containers or fountains, and those are usually a smaller hit on the pocketbook.
So if you think you would like to have a water garden before you make your purchase decide on whether you want active or passive, formal or more natural. A water feature is sure to enhance your landscape and make your outdoors more enjoyable.
Nurseries and garden centers now stock everything you need to install your own water garden, including aquatic plants and koi. Koi are the large goldfish looking fish that seem to get more valuable with age. I’ll be honest we went on the cheap just 4 months ago with the fish and I am stunned at how fast they grew.
If you doubt your ability to incorporate one into your landscape, don’t fret. Simply talk to your certified nursery professional that is probably around the corner from where you live. Now is a great time to start the planning process on your project. Beware there is a chance you’ll make your neighbors green with envy.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Norman Winter is executive director of The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
2011, Norman Winter.