The May meeting of the Richmond Hill Garden Club featured Paula Bashlor and Cynthia Turner, owners of Savannah’s Secret Gardens. They demonstrated creating a free-standing water feature, noting the features can be small or large and located virtually anywhere — on patios, in yards, on porches.
Free-standing water features have many pluses. First, the variety of plants that can be used in them is almost endless. Bashlor and Turner recommend such well-known plants as canna lilies irises, and water hyacinths, but also lesser-known ones such as umbrella plant and fairy moss, and unexpected ones such as pennyroyal, normally a ground cover. Plants can be easily arranged and re-arranged, inserted or replaced. Some remain in pots; others, like fairy moss and hyacinths, float on top of the water. Rocks placed in the water can be used to vary the height of plants.
It’s possible to add fish to even small water features. Koi are especially beautiful, but will require more care than a feature with plants only. Including an oxygenator such as parrot’s feather is recommended.
Another plus of free-standing water features is their ease of both creation and operation. Almost any container can be used to create a water feature—wash tubs, pots, horse troughs, virtually anything that will hold water. Containers with holes can be easily sealed. A kit provides the pump, hose, and water emitter (bubblers, drippers, spitters). Some of these are quite decorative — bronze dragonflies, for example. Because water features are re-circulating and not dependent on rain, worry about water levels is minimal. Mosquito dunks take care of potential bug problems and won’t harm plants, pets, or fish. Barley straw helps keep the water clean and algae under control. Maintenance is easy. Just clean the pump occasionally.
Most importantly for gardeners, water features are simply lovely additions to the garden scene. They attract birds and butterflies. Their sounds provide a sense of tranquility. And the entire feature provides a focal point for a garden.
After the presentation, Bashlor and Turner answered garden club members’ questions about such various items as bird feeders, decoration flags, birdbaths, and other plants such as night blooming jasmine. They then awarded several door prizes.