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Creating the Water Garden

Prior to 1998 I had a 20 inch deep tub dug into the ground with a pump and waterfall. In April of 1998 I discarded the tub, dug the hole larger and deeper. I now have a 30 inch deep pond, that is approximately 8' x 8', lined with EPDM, with a shelf for shallow water plants on two of the sides. I have added a pump and waterfall. The volume is approximately 1050 American gallons.

When digging the hole I used a spirit level to try and keep the sides equal. I used the soil I dug out to build up the sides. The soil is clay and works well for this. I lined the hole with carpet scraps to avoid root or other sharp objects puncturing the liner. The liner is very sturdy but light enough for me to handle by myself, although another person helping would be nice.

After the liner was in place I filled it with water (watched the water meter go to 1044 gallons - Canadian). The next step was to line the edges with flat stones (my choice of edging). These stones cover the edges of the liner and should be on a solid level surface. Then I backfilled in around the stones with good fast draining topsoil.

The hard part was done and now the fun of planting in and around the pond could begin.

I read quite a few books and looked at many pictures to figure out what I wanted and how to accomplish my plans for the pond.

On April 24, 2019, I bought a new Aquascape Ultra water pump Model 800, which is to pump 800 gph, for $183.89 from Wildwood Outdoor Living (Cannor). I got a few parts I needed to connect it to the waterfall on the splitter, from Bartle and Gibson. Hooked it all up and set the flow to go out to the waterfall, attached the old filter, put it all into a plastic mesh bag, attached to a string so I can bring it up without pulling on the cord. Plugged the cord into the additional plugin post (the 25 ft. cord is not long enough to reach the plugin) and turned it on. The flow is just right. I will have to be more vigilant about keeping the filter clean as the flow has slowed down a bit now on May 9th.
The humming birds and others seem to like the top rock of the waterfall flow to have baths, an added delight of this water feature. As I had to dig up the cord, I took this opportunity to relevel and set the rocks and cement blocks along the deck side of the pond. Earlier I had fixed the other sides of the pond edging, removing the cement blocks that went around one side of the old plum tree, as the plum tree had been removed. The pond gets much more light now. The plants around the pond are filling in nicely.

A link to my you tube video of the waterfall. See below for the embedded video.

The pond and tubs

My pond is under the branches of an old plum tree. Not the best location, but it is the best spot I have for it in my garden. The water fall is approximately 2 feet above the surface and runs over rocks that I have set into cement over pond liner to keep the water loss to a minimum.

I have 2 water lilies, water hawthorn, marsh marigolds, a lovely iris, minature cattails, sweet flag, bog bean and oxygenating plants. I had stocked the pond with gold fish, shubunkins and a few koi. The racoons, otter, herons and other predators seem to have depleted the stock of fish. The fish have reproduced but I still do not have very many. I restock them now in the spring but only with goldfish, as koi are too expensive for racoon food.

I clean the pond out about every second year. I am on my second pump, as I run the pump all year - 24/7. The edges are beginning to erode as I did not put down a base of cement and the rocks slide into the pond or the animals knock them in.

I have two other water features. One is in the front garden. It is a half barrel with liner. It has a white water iris, 2 or 3 fish, and a mermaid statue in it. The other tub is plastic made to look like cement and it sits on my deck. It has a lovely yellow miniature water lily and the required few fish to keep any mosquitoes in check. All the water features must be topped up weekly due to evaporation.
Since the revision of this page in 2017, the half barrel feature in the front garden, has been moved to the woodland area, because the wood rotted and broke down. The black plastic inner lining is now the water feature in the woodland. The mermaid now sits at the top of the waterfall of the pond. I will someday need to renew the waterlillies in the pond as there was too much shade for them to survive. The marsh marigolds, water irises, and water hawthorn look good through out the year. I have recently added two small willows to the pond along the side with a backdrop of the boxwood and the yew hedges.
In May of 2019 the mermaid now sits beside the waterfall with a little willow below it. There is another willow in the opposite corner. The plum tree was removed and the cement blocks that were along beneath the plum tree were also removed, making space for a few more plants in the new bed surrounding the stump of the plum tree. I have an arabis, a couple of golden rods, some dutch iris bulbs, an Omphalodes linifolia (forget-me-not like), some hyacinths, tulips and other Spring bulbs, along with any foxgloves and columbines that want to self seed, stuffed into this bed.
As of May 2019 I seem to have a good stock of gold fish: comets, shubunkins, and sarasa. I counted 15 of them last year and they seem to be reproducing as I saw some small black ones recently. The comets are the biggest at least 6 inches, with the rest of the older ones not far behind. There is lots of water grass, the marsh marigold, bog beans, the water hawthorn (seems to be contantly in bloom), and the irises in the pots. I have just added a globe flower in a gallon pot on top of the bog bean pot, and it seems to be surviving.
In August of 2019, upon returning from our Sask. trip, I refilled the pond and forgot that I had the water running. I added too much chlorinated water and killed my fish (at least 5 nice big ones and a couple dozen small ones) and killed the under water plants. I don't think the water hawthorn will survive either. Since then I have some de-chlorination stuff from the Pet Store at Broadmead. Wildwood (Cannor) has no fish and will not have any until April, 2020. I purchased an under water plant from Mitchell Farms.

The Japanese Garden

I have attempted to create a tiny Japanese style garden around the pond. I want to extend this look to the space under the deck that is now looking rather sparse and bare in spots.

On the west side of the pond I have a 'dry stream' that starts in a tiny pond of pea gravel and runs back under the deck. The lantern sits in the tiny dry pond surrounded by rocks, a big rhodo, ferns, moss, a lovely mossy rock, a small cut leaf, red Japanese maple, minature bamboo, mountain azalyea, a spruce that remains small and tightly held together, snow drops in the spring, too many violets, a miniature boxwood that keeps itself in check, plus a few other smaller precious plants. Right next to the pond a small Lebanon cedar overhangs the pond. There are cement blocks along 3 edges for firm footing. The fourth edge is next to the waterfall and 'there be dragons' It has a larger evergreen, sedum, lambs ears, and is quite wild. The north side is very tame with small round, clipped boxwood in front of yews. The south side is in shade and borders the deck and the west mossy area. The southwest has a large cedar hedge at the boundary of my propety.

I have some choice edging rock/alpine plants that are spreading to cover the 'rock necklace' of my pond.

This area needs quite a bit of attention to keep it looking right. It is mostly shaded and is a good counterpoint to the water in the pond. Its a very relaxing, shady place to sit and think or rest.

Since the revision of this page in 2017, the area surrouding the pond that I am calling the Japanese like area has had many corrections/renovations. The rhodo has been removed and replaced with cement blocks as an observation spot. At the back of this spot more stepping stones lead under the deck. The moss and ferns are growing nicely here along with other plants that like to live in the shade. The little boxwood has also been removed as it has outgrown the space allowed for it. The little cedar remains just in front of the Japanese lantern, which is now covered with moss. The dry stream is becoming nicely lined with moss as it curves under the deck and gets lost under the ferns and ends at a mossy log.
As of May 2019: What I am now calling the moss/Japanese garden encompasses the area that is along the stepping stones from the old sidewalk, over to the stepping stones that surround that edge of the water garden. The area is more or less in shade of the Harry Lauder walking stick nut tree, the little bamboo, and the lily of the valley shrub. There is now a miniature pine tree, the little Japanese red maple, a mountain laural (Kalmia latifolia) a small shrub in the moss garden. The primula bed starts at the old sidewalk and follows the stepping stones, around one side of the moss garden. There is moss and Corsican mint around the stepping stones. There is a small hosta, quite a few Primulas (Polyanthus?) and 3 new Asiatic Primulas just planted this year and what looks like a Primula marginata or auricola. There is a new anemonella thalictroides double white just beneath the rhodo by the deck post. There are also 2 epimediums and a blue hepatica, a chocolate lily that is forming a nice bunch, and a lovely snap dragon that has over wintered. A rock fern grows by the cement block of the deck support post, and a pink hepatica near the dry stream. There are 2 bunches of snowdrops that look like reeds after blooming, near the dry stream. The moss extends throughout the area, covers a large rock, and the Japanese lantern, going along the dry stream and under the deck and the ferns there. The astilbes and the pink flowering lily of the valley grow by the moss covered lantern and the big old stump that sits just under the edge of the deck with the Japanese aralia behind them. There is wulfini, and London Pride sedum, growing along one side with the Clematis, on the other side of the cement blocks and climbing up to the water feature on the deck. There is a new heuchera at the edge of the observation platform, just at the edge of the deck. On the waterfall side of the pond there is foxgloves, dutch irises, a large yellow flowering plant that looks good by the water. I am afraid I have lost its name. The waterfall side of the pond is backed by taller evergreens that provide some privacy from the neighbours, and along the deck they become the cedar hedge, that has been thrashed by these nasty neighbours. Along the side the steps up to the deck I have 3 rhododendrons and a white azalyea. A bigger hosta, an arum that is spreading around, a dark maroon colored hellebore and a white flowering one, with the rhodos. I am slowly moving these hellebores under the deck as they are crowding out the rhodos. There are field stone stepping stones through the moss to the dry stream under the deck, that lead to the sitting spot under the deck. There is a new rhodo on the other side of the steps with a special fern in front of it and the old camillia behind it. The ferns are now just unfurling their leaves and growing up through the lush moss. I let the Welsh poppies self seed where ever they can in the moss for a fine splash of gold. The sweet woodruff (galium odoratum) is starting to grow in the deep shade, carpeting any open areas in green with white blossoms. There is a small variegated shrub that I try to keep trimmed to a smaller size, along the dry stream. Also along the drystream I have placed mossy wood pieces set to form a log. The plant with the white blossoms (Polygonatum) hangs its racemes over the dry stream from the other side of the mossy log. There are plastic stepping stones from the observation platform under the edge of the deck (duck your head) and down to the sitting area beside the house.

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Last revised: September 25, 2017 .