A week and a half or so ago, we traveled south to Eagan to Soni Forsman’s water gardening retreat. It was a Minnesota State Horticultural Society sponsored event and brought together a great, motley crew of northern gardeners.
Garden get-togethers are great times to shoot the compost with your fellow dirt mavens and also get inspired by a passionate plant person, such as Soni. Soni is queen of all water plants. Her acreage in Eagan is home to several large-sized ponds, countless water containers and her pond plant business. If you are going to water garden in the North, connect yourself to Soni. A Google will get you her contact info.
A visit to Soni’s place will get you reasonably priced plants of all varieties, a ton of great advice and a heap of inspiration. Soni is a great teacher. You can ask her anything and she never lets you feel as if your question was a stupid one. In her world of let’s learn and water garden together, there are no stupid questions.
After visiting Soni last summer when I was working on an article on container water gardening for Northern Gardener magazine, I really got hooked on aquatic plants. I started creating containers around the garden, dotting them here and there, filling many with the water hyacinth that procreates like rabbits.
This season, I jumped into the deep end and dug two small ponds in the way back portion of my garden, one with a small water fall and the other, a still pond. Most of the month of May was devoted to plotting, digging, adjusting, exchanging pumps for more robust ones, and of course filling with water and garden accessorizing.
I used flexible liners for my two ponds, instead of the pre-formed plastic liners. I was working in a tight space and needed the flexibility of creating my own design to fit into the particular space. Also, I imagined it being an easier process than digging a hole to perfectly fit the size and shape of the molded liner.
My advice for digging is to break it up into several smaller sessions and enjoy the 1,000s of calories that you are burning. Having a plan for the displaced soil helps, as well. I topped of my raised beds in the vegetable gardens and also created the mound above the pond, that holds the waterfall. Speaking of, my waterfall consists of two ready-made “streamlets,” easily found at home improvement stores and garden centers. Cleverly placed rocks mask their plastic edges nicely.
I had overwintered three water lilies, a lizard’s tail and a sedge grass. I visit to
Soni’s place this spring produced a lotus, a horsetail grass, a rosea, parrot’s feather, water hyacinth, and fertilizer tabs.
I think water gardening gives one the sense that you can have it all. You create your own little paradise in your backyard, and no water the size, a water garden always has a certain “wow” factor.