I’ve been gardening seriously for a couple decades now and I was starting to think I knew what made me happy in the garden. I never expected that 165 gallons of water would become one of my favorite things.
When I designed the vegetable garden I left a big space in the center for some kind of feature. A small bistro set, a sculpture, or perhaps a really romantic planting of lavender or something were all considered, but I landed on a small container pond. I know next to nothing about water gardens and until about January I knew absolutely nothing. And now I just want to know more, more, more.
I chose a 165-gallon round stock tank (I had to order it here to find a round one in the size I wanted) more in the interest of frugality rather than aesthetics. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on an expensive container pond and then find out that it wasn’t right for the space. Turns out that the stock tank seems almost perfect for the space now. (If you want to see an amazing stock tank pond, check out Pam Penick’s.)
Figuring out what plants to put in the pond was a challenge. I love plants, so suddenly finding myself in a situation where I didn’t know what the options were or what would work was something I haven’t experienced for a long time. A good way to keep yourself humble is try an entirely new kind of gardening. I found myself at garden centers asking the most basic questions. I ran into three kinds of responses: 1. Very helpful and patient, 2. Being treated like I’d never seen a plant in my life, and 3. A customer service person whipping out their phone to search Google for the answer. A hint to garden center employees: We are looking for more information that we can get ourselves from a Google search.
I learned that the goal is to have about three-quarters of the water’s surface covered in plants. Popular pond plants like water lettuce and water hyacinth are illegal invasive species in Wisconsin, meaning I couldn’t buy them locally and I couldn’t even legally have them shipped to me.
I ended up planting Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), Four-leaf clover (Marsilea mutica), a water lily and a pitcher plant (Sarrancenia) that I think probably is sitting too deep.
Now that it has finally warmed up here, the pond is starting to come into its own. A few drops of nontoxic pond dye made the water a gorgeous reflective black that show off the green leaves floating on its surface. Things are starting to grow. The water lily gives me a new leaf every day and one hot day it gave me two.
I know this because the pond is a daily stop for me. I can’t wait to see what it looks like every day. The rapidly growing plants are an endless source if fascination for me. I search (in vane, so far) for dragonflies on the plants. I’m so excited to see my first water lily flower that I might have a party to celebrate the occasion when it comes.
I love every part of my garden (well, almost), but it’s been awhile since I’ve had so much fun discovering something in the garden. You might want to give something completely new a try in your own garden. I can almost guarantee you’re in for a good time.