Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Water Gardens

Just say the words: Garden Tour and will I swoop up my car keys and head out to where ever the tour might be.
No one has to ask me twice to go!
The chance to go on a Water Garden and Pond Tour...well, that was a no brainer!
I rounded up hat friendly face girlfriend Karen and off we went last Saturday to see at least some of the 24 gardens on a self guided tour.
It was pretty warm...the hibiscus above wasn't really sweating but we sure were.

Thankfully just looking at water gardens, ponds and waterfalls is quite cooling at least mentally.

Plus the water lilies are just so beautiful this time of year.

I did notice one pond's frog was half in the shade himself.
(This garden was one that I had visited last year with Bernie privately; it was the garden of the people with three enormous land tortoises.)

I could have just stayed there the rest of the day but we pushed on...

The next garden had a Japanese theme.
It even had a raked sand garden about the size of a large couch with end tables.
The use of a dry stream bed to border it was great.  The three rocks in the sand are to represent islands.  It really looks like water and islands seen from far above the earth.
 HERE is a picture of what they usually look like.
I've always thought those sand gardens were interesting but couldn't imagine installing one in my own garden; too much space would be taken up I thought.
After seeing their pocket sized version I am now game to have one of my own some day.

As Japanese gardens traditionally include very little color, the couple had turned a side area into a colorful alley way to mimic the colors found on an island that they had enjoyed visiting.
Idea to steal: Having ivy grown like columns up the fence!

I got the details on these rocks that look like they have some kind of script on them.
Turns out they were a reproduction of exactly that, which originally was found in the Orient (forget if it was China or Japan.)

A wealth person had them made for his property for stepping stones; a few pieces were left over and this garden owner's son noticed them and asked about them.
The stones were to be thrown away....he was able to claim them and get them to his father's home.
Smart boy.

Our next stop was a garden 180 degrees out theme wise from the Japanese garden.
This garden's owner had something like ten water features, including this flowing pump right beside the front door.

This one was right inside the back yard gate...

Then there was a water feature that went from the front to the back of the back yard...with TIKI!!!

Tiki because right next to the stream and water falls was a TIKI BAR!!!
How fun is that!
The string of lights were flip flop lights.

The owner had a pond in the middle of the lawn and in the back you can see a raised pond where he over winters his fish.

But wait!  There was another area in this same yard.
A "Beer" garden, complete with a flowing fountain and a beer can holding frog.
So crazy fun.
We met the owner. 
He said "I drink here."
I imagine he does....
He also built all the water features himself.

From there we went to a garden that essentially was a lawn with a very large pond taking up about a quarter of the space.
The pond was nice.....
I liked the creative use of a step ladders to feature a couple of seasonal plants.

This is the pond.
I thought the use of canna lilies in the water was interesting.

But mostly I admired the waterlilies of course.
The area was buzzing with all sorts of dragonflies stitching around us in the air.
(Oh I should mention a little trick I learned back at the Japanese garden: The owners had inserted a  chest high rod into the ground next to their pond.  Turns out dragonflies like to land on rods. We watched as the rod was visited over and over again by a dragonfly, and the owner could stand inches away from the dragonfly to enjoy looking at it up close as it perched. )

Last stop of the day was a garden that was quite narrow and VERY steep.
The owner had a covered lounge area up top and  dining area there too.
She said that after her kids moved out she tore out their play equipment at the bottom of the yard, said farewell to their backyard sledding hill, and installed a long water course that ran from the very top to the very bottom of the property...all by herself!

The cute little bridge was a ready made item.  The artist thought she would need to have him custom build one for her; turned out his display piece fit perfectly.

She wanted NO DIRT to show anywhere in the garden. 
She planted colorful plantings as an edge for her private stream.
 The grass?
It is artificial.
So smart as it would be almost impossible to drag a lawn mower up and down the step in the later years of life and frankly the grass looked completely it would need to be cut in about three more days kind of natural.
I absolutely loved her garden.
At the bottom of the stairs was a tented deck with more lounge chairs, a small table and a killer sound system.
I have a feeling that once one walks down the steps one would nestle in for the day.
I know I would...

My friend had a wedding to attend so we had to stop touring around was hot enough that that was an appealing thought anyway.
The tour tickets were for both Saturday and Sunday and each ticket was good for one's entire family.
I used my ticket to tour again on Sunday after church, this time with Jeff driving.
We managed to visit about six gardens together.
I liked how this garden was constructed from red rock.

The owners were a retired couple.

The wife told me they decided to build a deck out back and that took six weeks.
When it was completed, her husband looked out at the garden lawn and announced that there needed to be a pond and water fall too.
As she put it: We are still married....even after building a pond together!
It was an awesome pond and they were a really fun couple.

Each pond that had koi or gold fish (and most if not all of them did) made me want to have the same.
The fish come swirling toward anyone that came near the water's edge, thinking they will be fed.
They really are responsive pets actually.

Another home grown waterfall.
The owners hand selected each rock at the same place where Jeff and I had gathered rocks by the Great Salt Sea.
Great memories for the pond owners.

One garden had a huge cabbage growing, and I found this cutie under a cabbage leaf...(grin)
While Jeff and I poked around the gardens, Master Luke entertained the rest of the garden visitors with smiles and foot kicks of pleasure.
Bernie had been gone on a church men's retreat and when he got home I had him visit the Japanese garden with me.
For some reason, the simplicity of that garden really spoke to me with its small areas of interest and its lathe house brick floored area for shade.
If we ever have to move and landscape a flat rectangular yard space, I am SO going to steal a lot of their ideas.
And isn't that really why we go on house and garden tours anyway?
To steal ideas for our own spaces?