Gardens - Water Gardening

Build a mini water garden oasis

By
Christina Selby
Photography by
Mark Burstyn

These three potted ponds are sure to inspire you to add your own soothing water feature to your space


The soothing sound of water is a lovely accessory in any garden. Even if you don’t have room for a majestic pond, you can create your own small-scale oasis in a container. The tiniest trickle will reduce ambient noise and significantly increase your enjoyment of an urban patio, balcony or rooftop garden.

The plants

  • Corkscrew rush (Juncus effusus ‘Spiralis’): A marginal water plant, meaning it can be grown either at the edge of or in a pond but still in soil, this unusually shaped rush reaches 60 centimetres tall and does best in sun or part shade. Make sure you’re not buying J. balticus ‘Spiralis’, which is less upright and has a tendency to spread. Zone 4
  • Dwarf or miniature cattail (Typha minima): Another marginal plant, it reaches up to 45 centimetres tall and grows best in sun or part shade. Zone 3
  • Chameleon plant (Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’): A marginal plant that produces white flowers in early summer, it must be planted in a perennial bed and mulched to successfully overwinter. It reaches 15 centimetres tall, does well in sun or part shade and tends to spread. Zone 5
  • Needle rush hair grass or spike rush (Eleocharis acicularis): A marginal as well as an oxygenating plant (essential for the survival of fish), this North American native grows to about 30 centimetres tall and does best in sun or part shade. Zone 3
  • Fairy moss (Azolla caroliniana and A. filiculoides): This tiny moss (one to three centimetres across) floats on the surface of the water. The green fronds turn red in fall; the plant spreads rapidly. Overwinter indoors; native to North America.

Tub time (shown above)
A large, galvanized-steel tub (30 centi-metres deep, 46 centimetres square) serves as the base for this water feature.

The pump was installed on the bottom, then covered with a plastic pot. A trick I learned from Canadian Gardening’s previous editor, Beckie Fox, is to use a piece of gridded plastic (the type that’s installed over fluorescent lighting) as a foundation for the top layer of stones. I added a variety of larger sizes (not pebbles) and finished it off with a flat slab of slate, which forms the ledge over which the stream of water runs.

 

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