Archive for March, 2015

FYI, Jackie sent me this information to post for members. Below is the link to the article.


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Water Gardens

Today we welcomed Scott Bates from Grass Roots nursery to our Master Gardener meeting. He spoke to the group on water gardening. Below are a few note I made from his presentation. I thought those who could not attend might be interested in what he had to say. Oh, yes, I’ve added some of my general pond knowledge along the way as well. The photos are from my garden and pond.
Grass Roots nursery began in 1972 as a commercial landscape business and developed into water gardening later. When you visit you will see peacocks, chicken, tadpoles, frogs, and yes Koi. Koi are hardy in ponds 28” or deeper. Koi, butterfly koi and goldfish. Goldfish is really a general term. There are many varieties: Shubunkin, Commets, Fantail, Vailtail, and a few dozen more that will do well in a pond. Before you purchase though, make sure that they will survive the winters. Those mentioned typically survive with no problem. When I first put in a pond, about 15 years ago, I was surprised at how smart koi are. It doesn’t take long before they know that the figure standing along the pond probably has some food. They are so friendly that they’ll eat from your hand. Keep a healthy pond and you’ll have healthy fish. They will entertain you for hours while you watch then dance through the pond. Mesmerizing for sure they’ll put you in a trance. Good for the blood pressure I’m sure. The smaller fish will help out by eating mosquito larvae; although if they are smaller than the koi’s mouth, they may become food themselves. Small….but not too small. It’s best to do a bit of research. I’ve always purchase the food for mine from Scott’s business. I feed them differently…using a spring mix introducing them to food again after the winter and a fall mix to fatten them up for the hard winter. They mix their own blend for the seasons. It’s much easier to purchase premixed by them. You only need to feed them once or twice a week. Feeding daily will just create issues with keeping the pond clean. Let’s not pass up the use of tadpoles and frogs as well for cleaning the pond and of course entertainment


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Beyond fish, we need a few more things for the pond. Barley bales are used to help keep the algae at bay. We also want some plant life. Good choices for the bog…shallow wet areas are tropical plants. Cannas, black major tarot, cattails, water iris, Louisianan iris, Hibiscus, and papyrus are great choices along with some tall grasses to make it look natural. He also introduced us to a butterfly plant…that he says smells like wet musty socks…but the monarch butterfly loves it. For water iris he suggest Blue flag iris which is a native, or lilac dream. The Louisiana iris blooms later in the season. For cannas, Scott suggested Bangle tiger, which grows 4-5 feet or Little Lady, a small canna growing 18-24 inches.





Inside the pond water lilies are the flower of choice. There are other like water hyacinth, or water lettuce. They may get out of control however. They make good compost if they get too invasive. Scott mentioned that the Hardy lilies do much better here in Michigan. These bloom in the daytime seem to survive our winters. The bloom lasts about 3 days. I have purchased the tropical lilies however. My findings is that the tropical bloomed more often in my pond and later in the day (which is good, because I worked during the day and could enjoy them when I came home). They also bloom above the water, and in purple…one of my garden colors. Whichever you choose, keep in mind, plant them in mud. There are pill shaped fertilizers that you can stick into the mud about once a month to help the blooms. Deadheading is important with these as well to keep blooms coming. We don’t want the energy to go to seed. Divide maybe once every two years. Of course tropical will be a larger investment, since we treat them like annual flowers. Most of us don’t have an area in the home to keep them during the winter. Remember a minimum of 6 hours of sun per day for good blooms. So place a pond where it will get at least that amount.



Let us not forget, the favorite of Monroe, the Lotus. Lotus need a lot of heat. Generally in May, June you may have one leaf in the mud. But, once the weather heats up, you will see the buds and blooms. He suggest that there are some dwarf varieties to use in the pond for better scale and proportion. The more sun you give it the better growth.


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