March 29, 2009

Moving Water, Wildlife and Plants

After several days of rain, the garden is sprouting green. There are a few plants in my garden that like water all year and take to being planted directly in our water feature.

We keep the waterfall running year round. Our temperatures dip can down to 11°F in the winter, but the water doesn't freeze because it's moving. This enables us to provide a place for the birds (and other wildlife) to drink and bathe year round. The morning sun hits a shallow section of the stream that is within a few feet of a bird feeder. The birds have made a little path between some shrubs where they walk from the feeder to the stream. The large frogs don't like this shallow section, so they aren't a threat to the birds.

The bullfrogs are plentiful in the deep end of the stream by the front porch. The water there is too deep for the song birds.

I've not yet seen our one remaining goldfish this spring, so I don't know if the Great Blue Heron, who can wade in the deep end, has been snacking again or not.

Because the water is constantly moving, all plants have to be anchored in the rocks at the edge. Pots can be submerged and anchored with weights to keep them from floating away. Since the stream is shallow in most places, I've not found the pots to be concealed well enough, so I have removed those from the water feature and planted directly in the rocks. I have to put large rocks around the plants until they root. Once the plants develop a good root system on the rocks, they are very stable.

This year, I'd like to add more plants to the water's edge. Since our stream is fairly narrow, I have to select plants that won't rapidly take over the stream. The calla lily in the waterfall is growing rapidly. This calla was planted three years ago and has already been divided numerous times and shared with friends. Since it takes to division so well, a sharp knife (and a lot of strength) keeps it under control. New leaves sprout from the cut roots, so I don't have to be careful with the plant - it's tough!

At a previous house, I grew Louisiana irises, so that's a good candidate. Iris versicolor is another possibility. Since my stream is man-made and not natural, I can control this area and not introduce species that will invade any natural streams - always a concern with planting anything.

Story and photos by Freda Cameron
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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