Monday, November 28, 2011

Freshen Your Landscape

Nothing makes a landscape sing like a melodic waterfall, babbling brook, or peaceful pond. That large expanse of grass in your backyard can be freshened with a breathtaking water feature - and let's face it - you hate mowing the grass anyway.

Here's your typical suburban yard ... well manicured green lawn with trees, shrubs, patio, and decorative fence. Not bad, but not great either.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Come Set a Spell

A charming bench awaits your company. It's calling your name, beckoning you to make time for yourself and drink in the view of the peaceful water garden. You answer the call and set a spell while the stress of the world slides from your shoulders.

Lush greenery and a soothing water garden help cool the climate.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Froggy Friday

Frogs love ponds, no doubt about it! Pond owners enjoy hearing the chorus of frogs in the spring and summer as they sing their hearts out. Make no mistake, these little green critters are cute as can be.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Outdoor Dining by the Pond

Dining outdoors is a refreshing experience, especially when you have friends, family, a beloved pet, and a beautiful view of a pond filled with koi and waterlilies!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Waterfalls: The Perfect Abode for Moss

In the splash zone around cascading waterfalls, a fine mist dances through the air ... perfect for nourishing a verdant carpet of moss. Moss lends an earthy element to a new water feature, making it look as though the pond and waterfalls have been there for eons.

Climatis winds its way around the rocks, its lavendar flowers providing a perfect foil to the bright green moss clinging to the cool rocks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On Golden Pond

Although waterlilies and lotus are fading, the spectacular golds and reds of the trees add bursts of striking color around the water garden. A reflective pond doubles your viewing pleasure of nature's riotous exit from summer.

Cattails stretch tall as leaves begin their descent into the gentle waters below.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's Outside Your Window?

Everyone wants a room with a view, right? If your landscape is lacking when you look out your window, you can always spruce up your yard. Or better yet ... you can add a room with large windows and design a water feature to flow right up to the glass like this homeowner did!

Rather than put the patio next to the sliding door, the water garden was brought up close, with a charming walkway stretching across the pond.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bridge Over Un-Troubled Waters

A bridge signifies a journey ... over something ... to another place. In the landscape, a bridge is an open invitation to come and explore. When that bridge transcends water, the explorer lingers to enjoy the view of the rippling stream, cascading waterfalls, playful fish, and all the plants that find nourishment in and around the water garden.

  Shimmers of golden koi catch the eye while crossing this graceful garden bridge.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Small Ponds Pack a Punch

If you're under the mistaken impression that a pond simply won't fit in your yard ... think again! Ponds come in a variety of shapes and sizes and their versatility is what makes them such a great addition to your landscape ... in addition to the music of the waterfalls and the birds and butterflies they attract.

You might not think to use big rocks for a smaller pond, but a few boulders create focal points, softened by aquatic plants. The flat rock on the left is a perfect spot to sit and dangle tired tootsies in the water.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Aquatic Plants: The Colors of Fall

Mother Nature was kind enough to provide us with an explosion of color as plants nod off to dormancy. Orange, yellow, bronze, gold, red ... all of these can be found painted across the petals of aquatic plants. Why should trees get to have all the fun, anyway?

Nymphaea 'Comanche' displays its burnished color against deep green leaves.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gazebos and Water Gardens: A Match Made in Heaven

If I moved into a new house and were granted 2 wishes for the landscape, I would choose a water garden and a gazebo. Both remind me of a fairy tale garden ... or the type of garden you'll see in Heaven. My grandmother in Williams Bay, Wisconsin had an adorable "summer house" in her yard that I loved playing in for hours. She also had a crystal clear stream running through her backyard where we'd catch minnows, search for pretty rocks, and pretend we were in another world altogether. What's not to love about Gazebos and Water Gardens?

A garden bench tucked inside a pondside cottage gazebo makes for the perfect reading spot to refresh your mind and soul.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Designing Your Dream Pond

"It's all in the details." How many times have you heard that quote, and who was the first to say it, anyway? Whether you're planning a wedding, decorating your house, or writing a book ... the details put the finishing touch to everything. It's no different with water gardening. Attention to pond design details will make a water garden truly fabulous. As Autumn approaches, now is a great time to turn a critical eye to your backyard and start planning its makeover. You can find gardening items and pond products on sale this time of year ... design and install your pond in the cooler months of fall and you can look forward to hours of enjoyment when spring rolls around. Here's a stunning landscape complete with ecosystem pond that's chock full of thoughtful details that delight the eye at every bend and turn of the water.

At first glance, the extensive landscaping is evident, and then you notice details such as the spill of the waterfalls, the pops of color from flowers on the shore, and the orange and white dots of the fish in the cool, dark water.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Outdoor Spaces: A "Peace" of Paradise

With the financial stress of today's economy, we could all use a little "peace" of paradise to calm our nerves and lift our spirits. Investing in a small (or large) water feature is truly an investment in your health. Listening to the melodic waterfall while sitting by the pond's edge is sure to lower your blood pressure and improve your outlook on life.

Placing your water garden near your house allows you to hear your waterfall through open doors and windows. When time allows, pull up a chair and sit a spell outside.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Aquatic Plant Beauties

School has begun but summer is still going strong in the water gardening world. While some of your annuals may start looking a little shaggy, many aquatic plants still look healthy and beautiful. Here's a few of my favorites.

Nothing boasts summer like a bright, Yellow Snowflake. The petals' frayed edges add to the playful character of this show-stopper.

Friday, August 5, 2011

From Landscape to Waterscape

People love before and after photos ... an ugly duckling turned swan. I like to think this is because a positive transformation touches on something personal to each and every one of us. We each see our own flaws, and stand in amazement when our spouse or love interest thinks that flaw is cute and endearing ... we're also appreciative they feel this way. And so it is with before and after projects ... someone has looked at a dilapidated home and seen the charm of yesteryear that can be restored. Or consider the barren, boring yard that an artful landscaper sees as a blank canvas for a creative outdoor oasis. So today I'm sharing some amazing transformations with you, in hopes you'll be inspired to create some beauty of your own ... in your own backyard.

BEFORE: Hundreds of thousands of yards look just like this one. Lots of green grass, a fence for privacy, a shed for tools, a patio for outdoor dining, and a shrub or two.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Livin' the Outdoor Lifestyle

Back in the 1950s, the lawn was a status symbol of suburban living. The bigger and greener the lawn, the better.  The first lawn spreader was invented during this era, and the market was flooded with lawn care products. Today, we're ripping out those green lawns for eco-friendly landscaping solutions like native plants, rainwater harvesting systems, and ecosystem ponds. In addition, we're moving the indoors out ... fireplaces, cushioned furniture, gazebos, even kitchens have moved outdoors. Here's a home located in the suburbs of Chicago that truly seems to have it all when it comes to outdoor living.

Outdoor kitchen to the left, beautiful paver patio for enjoying waterfront views, and a floating deck and gazebo for personal interaction with this amazing pond and waterfall.

What a great place for entertaining! Ample seating is available on the floating deck and dining furniture is available at the far end of the paver patio, as well.

A rustic boardwalk traverses the pond, beckoning visitors to feed the fish up-close, or simply dangle feet into the cool water. By the way, this backyard is featured on a pond tour in Downers Grove, IL on August 20th. The tour is free and more information is available here.

Ornamental shrubs soften the cool, hard edges of rock and lend a calming color palette to the overall design. Very natural. While only 2 years old, this water feature looks as though it's been part of the property forever.

Mossy, well-worn rocks were hand selected to provide an aged feeling to this new water feature. The small rock urn on the right was hand-crafted and pieced together by an artistic friend and pond builder, of BJL Aquascapes in New Jersey.

The same waterfall scene all aglow with energy-efficient LED lights.

Rain dances on the pond while beautiful greenery hugs the rocks.

Large stepping stones descend from the patio to a pebble beach. This is a favorite spot of the children and their friends.

A closer view of the pebble beach where the kids can have hours of fun with their buckets and beach toys. Water lettuce at left provides an element of softness.

A fallen log slows the water before cascading over small rock pillars. What a unique waterfall design!

This outdoor paradise is a far cry from the plain, grassy turf it once was. With a little design inspiration, there's no telling what you can create in your own backyard! What element would you enjoy most? And don't forget, you can see this pond in person on August 20th during a FREE Pond Tour in Downers Grove, IL. Click here for locations, descriptions and directions to the ponds.

Linking to:
Wow Us Wednesday at Southern Savvy Style
Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ponds Aren't Just for Fish

Baby, it's hot outside! If you're one of the lucky souls who has their own water garden, you can easily take advantage of its cooling magic during the dog days of summer. You can swim in a large pond (don't worry, the fish won't bite). And with a smaller pond, you can dangle your feet into its refreshing waters. A pond cools the air around it so if you're like me and hate being cooped up on a summer day ... no matter how hot ... be sure to sit by your pond where the air is cooler. A patch of shade and a gentle breeze will simply add to the refreshment you'll enjoy.

Water gardens pull kids outside, away from the TV and video games. Mom and Dad get to spend relaxing time watching their children and catching up on the day's events. This is so much better than reality TV!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waterfall Wednesday

This morning's news claimed that at least 30 states in the US will be under heat advisory at some point this week. What better way to cool off than with a refreshing waterfall ... or two ... or more? Waterfalls range from sweet and gentle to dramatic and thunderous. You can really set the mood in your backyard depending on what type of waterfall you create. So to help keep you from melting this week, rest your weary eyes on these cool, refreshing waterfalls.

This is a favorite photo for me. I love the mossy rock behind the waterfall and the way the clematis winds its way around the rock.

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Personal Sacred Lotus

Water gardening means different things to different people. For some, it means the soothing sound of waterfalls. For others, it's the joy of keeping colorful koi nearby. For me, it's about gardening ... in the water ... with beautiful plants that can't be grown terrestially. This year I tried my hand at growing a sacred lotus, delivered to me by a dear friend from Alabama (an avid aquatic plant grower who thrives on thrill-seeking adventures like alligator-wrasslin', I might add). His plant provision and careful instructions have resulted in the following ...

Isn't it beautiful? I love the way the creamy petals are tinged with pink at the edges ... and the center appears to be glowing. I visit this stunning creature every morning after my almost-daily run (I'm training for a fall marathon). 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Every Deck Needs a Pond

If you're like most Americans, you probably have a deck, patio, or balcony where you can enjoy the great outdoors from the privacy of your own home. You kick your feet up in your Adirondack chair and enjoy the summer breeze blowing through your hair, but something's missing. All you see from your deck is an expanse of grass and a few trees, and what you hear are the neighbor's kids crying and their dog yapping. Your deck needs a view. And better yet, that view needs to replace irritating noises with melodic sounds. What I'm trying to say is ... your deck needs a pond!

The owners of this deck enjoy a view of a meandering stream that spills into a pond by their lower level patio. A wooden bridge invites you to sit a spell and dangle your toes in the water.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Aqua Terra: Home of The Pond Guy™

Aqua Terra is a private residence gracing the western fringe of the Chicago 'burbs, complete with a one-acre ecosystem pond . The proud and happy owner is Greg Wittstock (aka "The Pond Guy") founder and CEO of Aquascape, Inc. This amazing and expansive water feature showcases a variety of water gardening elements ... too many to post all at once. For now, enjoy the splendor of a just a few highlights of this captivating habitat.

An overhead view reveals the pathway encircling and dissecting the pond. The Pond Guy™ wants visitors to appreciate all views of his personal sanctuary (that's his dad getting ready to feed the fish from the deck).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pink Waterlilies

Waterlilies are bursting from ponds across the country and today I'm honoring pink waterlilies in particular. July is National Water Gardening Month so if you've been tempted to grow some of these beauties but don't have a pond yet ... this month would be a great time to make your water garden wish come true.

So much beauty resides in this spectacular, aquatic plant. The emerging bud with its hint of pink surprise inside brings you back time and again to check on its bloom.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pleasures of Pond Fish

Fish play an important role in the nitrogen cycle of an ecosystem pond. Not only do fish dine on algae, but they provide a beautiful flash of color as they glide in and out of waterlilies. Koi and other pond fish make great outdoor pets ... even learning to eat right out of your hand, if you're patient! When you have a water garden of your very own, you'll grow to love your fish as much as you love your cat or dog!

An Eskimo Kiss is shared over a trickle of fish food pellets. Fido might look like he's snarling, but he actually adores the fish and watches over them every chance he gets.

This beautiful butterfly koi is a prized possession named Marathon. Special thanks to its owner for the photo!

This ethereal, white koi is truly stunning against the cool, dark, watery backdrop.

This festive fellow shows off his feathery fins, dancing about in the cool waters, swishing his tail first one way, and then the other.

And this golden gal proudly flaunts the latest shade of lipstick.

Sometimes hard to spot in the water, Mr. Dark and Mysterious reveals intricate designs in his shimmering scales.

A window frames the perfect view of finned friends. This is a perfect indoor spot for a morning cup of coffee, delighting in the views of the backyard oasis.

You simply can't ignore this face! He may look like a Grumpus-Ala-Bumpus, but he's actually quite pleased in his pond.

Another black beauty skims the surface of the pond. They say not to name your fish, fearing you'll become too attached. But when you see their personality reflected in the water garden, how could you resist naming your finned friends?

How many koi do you have in your water garden, and have you named them?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

White in the Water Garden

While everyone loves the pop of a pink lotus or violet waterlily, have you ever considered adding whimsical white to your water garden? White is actually the reflection of all colors and all wavelengths. If one of the colors is subtracted from white light, you see the complementary color. For example, if yellow is subtracted from white light, you see blue. Nature is so amazing ... and these white aquatic plants certainly prove that point!

A pair of white waterlilies rest atop a cool pond, one fully open and the other just awakening.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dragonflies: The Devil's Darning Needle

The Dragonfly shares its nickname of "The Devil's Darning Needle" with Clematis virginiana, a vine native to the United States. Dragonflies are quite beautiful and gravitate to water gardens because their larvae, known as nymphs, are aquatic. Next time you're enjoying your pond or other fresh body of water, be sure to appreciate the flight patterns of this amazing creature.

For more information on dragonflies, read "Acrobatic Artisty," a 3-page article with more great photos of dragonflies.
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