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:
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!
2-City Line Rio (transplanted from sun to shade in 2018. Currently growing but not blooming).
1-Merritt’s Supreme (2017)
2-Oak-leaf “Snowflake” double bloomer (in transit 2019)
1-Summer crush (2020) purchased at Lowes post season. Bloomed very pink in 2021. 70
1- “Alice” Oakleafs Hydrangea. Purchased at Willey’s Farm, Townsend, Del. post season in 2020. Looking forward to blooms in 2021.
1-Strawberry Sundae (2020)
1-Bobo panicle hydrangea (2020)
1-Gatsby Star Oakleaf hydrangea (2021) Proven Winners purchased from UDBG plant sale
1-Shooting Star (double-bloomer) lacecaps macrophylla Lowes
1-Proven Winners Tuff Stuff serrata “Red” (2021)
1-Haas Halo – native arborenscens lacecap recommended by Mt. Cuba Center as a pollinator favorite (2021)
1-Little Lime by fenceline 2022
1-Ruby Slippers oakleaf, Lowes, 2022 80
1-Rhapsody, Lowes, 2022
2 – Mathilda Gutges, Lowes and in container
1-Pistachio “Horwack” 2022
1- Incrediblush 80 2022
1- Seaside Serenade “Cape May” 2022
1-Unknown Oakleaf 2022
5- Little Lime Punch panicle hydrangea (2022) 92
8- Wee White Dwarf arborescens (2022) 100 END
1-Lacecap “Bethany” a gift from a Master Gardener
Five layerings in progress. We’ll see how many make it!
I’ve obtained these specimens from local nurseries, mail order, propagation from friends, and those I have created myself from layerings and cuttings! I currently have a dozen cuttings in a tub and it looks like all but two will make it!
The challenge now is to find a place for all of these. I would say half of my collection is small and in that “getting established” period of its life.
Back when I did not know what I was doing, I planted some macrophyllas in high heat, strong sun locations. Most are doing okay, but take daily and sometimes twice-a-day waterings. I doubt at this stage they would take to transplanting, but in leaving them where I have, I am creating additional work for myself down the line. I have taken layering and cutting samples from all of these, as I may try to replace them with paniculata.
Here are some of my favorite photos:
Proven Winners City Line “Mars” It was purchased pink and now blooms in this beautiful, bright blue!
Wet and white! Schnee or Snow along the fence line. They are a macrophylla with deep, dark green foliage.
Oakleafs hydrangea Endless Summer. I wish I knew the variety. These blooms are very tight, curled and never form round shapes. They stay in this flat pagoda shape.
Limelight has become one of my most favorite plants. I heavily prune in early March.
I love to bring hydrangeas indoors. Here I have limelight arranged with a base of Philodendron Selloum. Both last a long time in a vase.
Various vases of my hydrangeas!
I transplanted this Strawberry Sunday from a container to the ground. Doing this interrupted its bloom schedule. But the plant sent me a message with this one, singular bloom, that I had made a good decision and I can look forward to more blooms like this in 2021.
Ruby Slippers earlier in the summer. Compare the spacing of the florets to the Snow Queen below. Bees love this hydrangea!
Oakleaf hydrangea. Either Sykes Dwarf or Snow Queen
A young Merritt’s Supreme blossom! It shifted from pink to lavender purple its first year,
I’m not going too far out on a limb to say that 2020 has been a horrible year so far. Sickly, stressful, polarizing and divisive. Since March 13, 2020 I have worked from home and also had an opportunity to take temporary custody of my only grandchild, Hugo, who lives in NYC with his parents. There, at the epicenter of the pandemic, his parents felt their six and a half year old son might enjoy an extended visit in the southern Delaware countryside with “MiMa.” Both of us did our daily work virtually, and the extra time together concentrated on an outdoor classroom that included birdwatching and feeding, planting vegetables, planting and dividing flowers and learning about insects and pollinators. It was 11-weeks of that silver lining you hear so much about!
Working from home afforded me some extra time to water in the mornings, spend lunch time weeding, and when we were allowed to, visit some garden centers wearing masks.
My hydrangeas (currently 63 and counting) did not get the news 2020 was off to a poor start. I started seeing early indications that this would be a bumper year for hydrangeas. The best ever in my memory.
In my ever-shadier woodland backyard setting, I have lost the opportunity to flower garden. But this year, my husband and I took out three of our five concrete block raised beds (they worked but were unsightly) and used the area to create a pollinator garden. It is still a work in progress.
In the pollinator garden is an assortment of natives and non-natives. Echinacea, nepta (catmint) garden phlox “jeana”, various beebalm, senna, coreopsis, gaillardia, pink and purple Veronica speedwell, salvias, Shasta daisies, fennel, milkweed, butterfly weed (Asclepias), yarrow, false sea thrift (armería), stokesia, lavender, rosemary, cornflower, pokeweed, h.paniculata “Bobo”, solidago “Wichita Mountains”, drumstick alliums, and others.
I just bought my 40th hydrangea shrub. That may or may not seem like a lot unless I factor in my .73 acre lot! There isn’t a garden center in the area I haven’t patronized!
Some recent redesigning of our landscape, including the removal of a diseased tree and a long narrow raised bed along a fence line, provided an excuse to go out and fill up my backseat and haul home new family members.
At the onset of my hydrangea condition, I wasn’t very good at chronicling what I purchased. I tried. I’d collect the plastic labels or containers, neatly stack them in the garage whereupon my husband would toss them out in the trash. Many of my earliest cultivars are mysteries.
One is this beautiful lacecap! In 2007 my husband and I traveled to Pennsylvania to visit his mother on Mother’s Day and we stopped by a local nursery to get her something for her front yard. She didn’t have any hydrangeas and we both fell in love with a stunning 2ft tall blue lacecap, just loaded with the most intensely blue blooms. We got one for his mother and one for me to take home. I planted her facing south, probably not the best idea, but we have enough trees in the front yard to provide some shade. The heat is what gets her, rather than sun, so we have to be generous with the water.
Delaware in USDA Zone 7b has of late had its share of late frost in early spring. My blue beauty, now nearly 5 ft tall is vulnerable and can only boast three or four show-stopping years in her blooming career. The last few have been duds. But 2018 is a good recovery year! She’s started off with a good showing of azure blossoms, some with the flat pan in the middle, others with it missing. I might never learn the cultivar, but I call her Marian’s Pennsylvania Pretty, in honor of my mother-in-law who we lost in 2008.