The Calming Presence of Water

Every garden ought to have a water feature. Humans seem to be drawn by the calming sounds of water movement. I know that wildlife too, especially birds and insects appreciate easy access to water. As a certified wildlife habitat, our property provides essential water.

In addition to our 2500 gallon pond and waterfall, seen below, we added different water features on the property.

This ceramic birdbath from Walmart was a great choice for a side yard where I created a new native plant garden. I am severely allergic to mosquitoes, so I ordered a water wiggler to sit in the bowl and move the water, thus discouraging a breeding place for those blood-loving demons. The color was a perfect match too! The wiggler lasts all season on a single D battery!

A friend and I went garden shopping earlier in the summer and found this lovely copper birdbath and cat tail design. It’s original home was in the pollinator garden, the sunniest spot on our property.

I wanted to keep the water moving, so I took the water wiggler out of the birdbath to see how it would look in the copper bowl, but it was too big and overpowering. So I ordered a 3.5 watt solar fountain. They are sold everywhere and inexpensive. The solar fountain kit comes with several spray attachments, all were too powerful with the spray overshooting the birdbath. So we took the nozzles off and use it as a bubbler, which looks great. We add a little bit of water every other day.

As our pollinator plants grew taller, it obscured this fountain so we easily picked it up and moved it close to our front porch where we could enjoy it.

Our garden also considered the insects. I had a very shallow concrete birdbath and I added a layer of glass beads so butterflies and other pollinators can safely wade.

In the center of our full-sun pollinator garden we had bench, which because of the sun and heat, no one sat on. So I moved the bench across the stone path to an area that gets afternoon shade. And I cleared a spot for a taller water feature.

We had some extra square concrete block pavers. I took four and attempted to paint a compass inspired by University of Delaware colors. I spent about a half a day painting the compass design not realizing most of it would be covered by the base of the fountain!

We looked at many styled fountains. While am drawn to sleek Zen-type designs and love the real stone, we opted for a traditional 3-tiered design.

We settled on “Kiera” a teal blue ceramic glaze that holds 4.5 gallons of water. We wanted a self-contained fountain, rather than one which draws from a catch basin. As you can see it covers up most of my amateur compass!

I am pleased with the water sounds and hope it will attract birds!Listen:

Another view

Now, no matter where we are in the garden, we can listen to the sounds of water and watch the birds and insects benefitting from it too!

Rethinking how we landscape

At the University of Delaware, we are fortunate to call Doug Tallamy one of our own. I first heard him talk at a horticulture event I was covering. Doug is an entomologist and professor at the University of Delaware’s Department of Wildlife Ecology. His influence and expertise is respected worldwide. Thanks to his books, his articles and his generous appearances on Zoom, Doug Tallamy’s message is starting to get out. This is a recording of a recent appearance he gave to Ohio State University. I attended this for advanced training as a Master Gardener. His lecture beings at 3:50.

I have joined the Home Grown National Park effort that Tallamy has started. I planted my first oak tree, and hope to get many more. Increasingly I am adding native plants to encourage more caterpillar and insect activity.

Does this mean I will remove the many crape myrtles on my property? No. But, as beautiful as they are in late summer, I won’t plant any more. Will I still decorate my front porch steps with my favorite magenta geraniums? Yes I will. It is okay to grow and enjoy non-natives. But I am finding spots in my yard for native milkweed, echinacea, mountain mint, redbud and serviceberry trees. I challenge anyone who reads Doug Tallamay’s books or watches him lecture in person or on YouTube will be compelled (and urgently so) the way they landscape their homes.