Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.

water garden

Last winter I agreed to place my garden on tour in mid-July. At the time I didn’t think that it would take any extra effort. After all, I’m usually photographing in the garden every couple of weeks, so I try to keep it in good condition. And I always enjoy sharing my garden with those who are interested. But this spring, it struck closer to home that the beds better be fully mulched (300 bags worth!), garden projects completed (a new water garden in the backyard), gaps in beds filled in (hurray for garden center shopping trips!), and plants fully groomed (a weekend of deadheading ahead) by the time the tour arrives next week.

I think that we’re just about ready for the group. The photos below take you on a virtual tour of my backyard. Next week I’ll show you the front yard. What do you think? Will it pass muster?

Herbal knot garden with lavender, germander, marigolds, and mealycup sage

New formal water garden

Firepit seating area

Boxwood knot garden with marigolds and ageratum

Mixed shrub and perennial border

Raised bed vegetable garden and compost bin screen

Drought-tolerant border

Potager, kitchen garden


Terraced vegetable beds

finishedPondWe’re working on a new Better Homes and Gardens water gardening book, due out in December of this year. The book will be one in a new series of BHG garden books launched this last year.

One of the projects for the book is taking shape in my backyard. We spent several days digging, (see the photo of the “pit” below) and several days photographing the step-by-step process of how to construct this formal water garden. Last evening I planted some flowers around the perimeter. We’ll photograph the water garden again in July when the water garden plants have filled in a bit more, the annuals are blooming, and the water lilies are in their full glory.


This was moving week for Zach, our fantail goldfish. He summers in the water garden next to the front porch, but when cold weather hits, he moves to a half whiskey barrel in the greenhouse. If the pond were deep enough, he could stay outdoors all winter. However, local zoning restrictions require 6-foot-tall fencing around water features deeper than 18 inches–not exactly attractive in the front yard. So, every year we rescue Zach from the pond in fall, and transfer him to his winter haven.

empty pond That means bailing water out of the pond to catch him. Usually we wait until icicles dangle from the waterfall and a sheet of ice covers the pond. This year we took advantage of  last 60 degree F day to empty the pond. With temps in the teens this morning, we’re glad we did. It’s a lot more pleasant splashing through 60-degree water than slush! As you can see in the photo at left, we usually have algae build-up to clean out, too. That scrub down will wait until spring.

We plan to try new technology next year to cut down on algal growth. The folks at Smartpond recently gave a presentation to the Meredith garden editors about new products that they have developed. One  incorporates a UV light (which kills algae) with a water garden pump. We’ll give it a try next season and report back results on this blog.

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