The water feature at 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 when the Japanese koi come up to feed, it gives a whole new meaning to the word thrilling.)
Wherever you go, garden centres 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 to build than you might think.
Water features can create a mood like no other part of the garden, especially if you incorporate sound and movement. It also becomes a place to gather, sit, watch and relax. 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.
Passive water moves only by a breeze. We have all watched the wind create tiny ripples on a pond. But with the addition of plants such as irises, lilies and umbrella plants, your pond 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 are a great gathering place for damselflies and dragonflies. Water lilies add a pretty touch – we have them in both pink and pastel yellow.
Active water features, such as cascading, rocky waterfalls or babbling brooks, open up a new sensory perception – sound.
In the middle of our feature, you can hear the bubbling of a fountain and see the ripples moving outward.
Waterfalls are special because they create vertical movement. Water can also flow out of decorative containers or fountains, and those are usually a smaller hit on the pocketbook.
If you are building a water garden, decide whether you want active or passive, formal or more natural before you make your purchase.
Nurseries and garden centres now stock everything you need to install your own water garden, including aquatic plants and koi. Koi look like giant goldfish and they get more valuable with age. We bought smaller, cheaper fish just four months ago and I am stunned at how fast they grew.
If you doubt your ability to incorporate a water feature into your landscape, don’t fret. Simply talk to your certified nursery professional – ask friends for references or look online for names.
Now is a great time to start the planning process on your project. There is a chance you’ll make your neighbours green with envy.
orman Winter is executive irector of The National Butterfly enter in Mission, Texas, and uthor of Captivating ombinations: Color and Style in he Garden.