Throwback Thursday: What You Need to Know About Water Gardening
Our June 1982 plants the seeds for all things water gardens.
For this edition of Throwback Thursday, we look to the pages of our 1982 June issue to find out all about water gardening (otherwise known as man-made water landscapes that feature aquatic plants). We challenged Wildwood Outdoor Living‘s Mike James to see if our vintage report has stood the test of time.
True or False:
1. Water lilies are considered the most commonly raised water plant and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours.
True. According to James, there are all kinds of new varieties that you can grow compared to 30 years ago (think leafy all the way to budding blues and oranges). The list of species is quite extensive now.
2. May and June are the best months to plant, but you can, plant from April to September. Water lilies require lots of sunlight—around six hours each day—and rich soil.
True. However, James states that different varieties of species require different growing temperatures and depth of soil or water. Some flowers may need a minimum of 8 hours of sunlight before they can flower.
3. Rootstocks should be planted with rich clay loam soil and/or well-rotted cow manure.
False. While this is technically true, James advises not to use cow manure, because over the past 30 years better fertilizers have been developed for water gardens. “Manure can potentially create algae problems. You can get some really good quality fertilizers now.”
4. Plant roots in soil and cover with sand or rocks to avoid discolouring the water and to prevent the plant from floating to the surface. In some B.C. areas, roots may have to be dug up in the fall and replanted in the spring.
True. “If it is really going to freeze over you might want to take tubers inside.” (Sorry for all you Northerners up there.) However, with more varieties out there you have options that will do OK in different climates.
5. You do not need an acre of water—a small pool or tub is fine.
True. In fact, James says that container gardens are very popular right now. Due to this, dwarf species are on trend because they stay compact and small.
6. Flowers open for several days and change colours throughout the day.
True. Yet James states that only changeables hold this quality. If they are not listed as a changeable species then they will not change.
A Few Things to Note:
In the ’80s there wasn’t a lot of information about garden building techniques, and James says that current trends in water gardens have made leaps and bounds— today’s gardeners don’t even use the same materials.
James suggests that any aspiring horticulturalists look up Aquascape (based in Seattle) and watch their YouTube tutorial videos for all information on water gardens. He says they’re at the forefront of all water garden trends with an extensive line of water feature products.
Catch James at his swim pond during the Water Garden Tour in Victoria on July 11.