Tranquility on display


    After living at their house for 18 years, Ralph Hogencamp and Sandra McDonald decided in 2002 to add a water feature to fix an erosion problem due to their location on a hill.

    But the 100-foot stream turned out to be much more than a solution for the Woodbury couple. It has become a relaxing, natural spot where running water, chirping birds and wildlife visits create a north-woods setting smack-dab in the middle of suburbia.

    The yard features a waterfall located on the back deck, leading the water down the side and front of the property.

    Surrounded by a variety of landscaping, the water feature earned a spot on the Minnesota Water Garden Society’s 14th Annual Pond Tour slated for July 30 to July 31.

    The tour will feature 13 sites in the east metro with two located in Woodbury.

    Hogencamp’s 5-foot waterfall flows into a small pond adjacent to the backyard deck. It goes from there down the stream and into another 2-foot waterfall that drops into a larger pond in the front yard.

    The ponds, streams and waterfalls have been integrated with mature oak trees.

    “It’s kind of evolved out of a necessity to become as big as it is, as long as it is,” Hogencamp said. “The sound of the water is so pleasant and the way this works, we can hear it anywhere from the house if we have the windows open.”

    A few miles away is Mike and Kelly Pageler’s Woodbury home that will also be featured on the tour for its unique koi pond.

    Mike Pageler’s love of water gardening led him to install a pond, which started out small in 1997 then grew to what it is today.

    “It’s kind of an evolution for water gardening to move into the koi,” he said of the pond, which is partially raised above ground level.

    To protect the 18 koi fish in the water garden, Pageler said they needed better filtration and a deeper pond to keep predators away.

    He built the koi pond in 2009 and is excited to present it at this year’s tour.

    “I like to show off,” Pageler said with a smile. “You like to have people come in and say ‘nice garden, nice pond.’”

    It’s not common to have a tranquil area like Pageler’s backyard in the middle of an urban city like Woodbury, but he enjoys the manual labor that comes with developing a flat surface into a shaded, landscaped oasis.

    “It’s not quite as easy as it used to be now that I’m getting older,” he said with a laugh.

    A storage shed, bird houses and perennial garden surround the koi pond, which makes the water feature stand out among the others on the tour.

    Pageler’s original water garden was nothing like his current one, though it sheltered one of the kois from 1997 to 2009.

    The 14-foot by 10-foot koi pond is 5 feet deep with a waterfall in the middle that keeps the water running. The key to keeping the koi alive is maintaining the water quality, Pageler said.

    The annual tour will feature two clusters. The northeast cluster includes one site each in Mahtomedi, White Bear Lake, White Bear Township and three sites in Roseville. The southeast cluster includes two sites in Prescott, Wis., two in Woodbury and one each in South St. Paul, Sunfish Lake and Eagan.

    The tour will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 30-31. Tickets are valid for both days anytime during the open hours. All advance purchase tickets are $15 per person with no cut-off date. On-site sales will be $20 per person. Tickets for children 15 and under are free. Tickets will be available online at

    news, lifestyle, woodbury

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