IF there is room on the place for a Water Garden the cultivation of Water Lilies and water plants of various sorts will be found to be not only interesting, but also a most delightful diversion. If there is a brook or small pond in the neighbourhood of the garden that can be utilized, so much the better, but even if a pool has to be constructed the cost may be kept within bounds, and a small expanse of water will serve to exploit many rare and beautiful blooms, and to make permanent at the garden side many attractive forms of plant life that otherwise you would have to wander far a field to enjoy. A small Water Garden is a good adjunct to the garden proper, or to the Rose Garden, if they can be combined without too much apparent effort.
Old English Water Garden.
The plan given in this chapter was drawn for a continuation of a flower garden, and the beds numbered 15 are planted with Peonies, Hollyhocks and Phlox as a link to the garden. If the Water Garden stands by itself and has no definite connection with the rest of the planting, this part of the plan may be modified and be made to conform to the opposite side of the pool by planting beds numbered 15 like those numbered 13, with Lilies, Flags and Funkias. If it is not desirable to keep beds numbered 13 and 14 in herbaceous plants un-trimmed hedges may be planted in their place, and that part of bed numbered 15 that borders the approach should be included in this new plan. For these hedges use Lilac, Althea, Privet, Red Twigged Dogwood and Golden Willow, which latter will have to be cut back rather vigourously every year to keep it in line with the other shrubs. As a background for the Water Garden use White Willow, Weeping Willow and Hemlock Spruce, and underneath them plant Rhododendron album elegans, and Rhododendron album grandiflorum, varieties that do exceedingly well in damp situations and whose white blossoms are most effective with the foliage of the Hemlock and Willow.
The pots and boxes marked 11 in the plan may be done away with, and good round specimens of Privet used in their stead. Plant beds numbered 12 with Lilies, Flags and Funkias. Lilies seem particularly happy near water, especially White Lilies like candidum, speciosum and longiflorum; or the beautiful pink speciosum melpomone. They make a most appropriate setting for a pool; the white and blue Funkias will shelter the Lilies and make a good carpet for their long stems. In these beds alternate clumps of German and Japanese Iris, placing them near the borders two and a half or three feet apart. In beds numbered 13 and 15 use Iris in the same way, and in the centre of each bed a specimen of Forsythia viridissima, Rosa Ru-gosa, or Privet might be placed as a background against which to show off White Lilies and Aura-tum Lilies. Fill in these beds with Ferns which are beautiful in the Water Garden and very effective with Lilies; they afford the same shelter that Funkias supply, protecting the tender shoots from the winds and the strong sunlight. The Gossamer Fern (Dicksonia punctilobula) grows from one to one and a half feet high and is good for massing in sunlight or partial shade; it will thrive in either dry or moist soils if good drainage is provided.
The Ostrich Fern (Onoclea struthiopteris) grows four feet high and has beautiful palm-like fronds; use it as a background for the smaller Ferns and Lilies. It is easy to grow but should be well fertilized and the clumps placed two feet and a half apart. The Flowering Fern (Osmunda regalis) does well in moist soils in either sun or shade, and can be grown partially submerged in water on the edges of ponds or streams. The clumps should be planted three feet apart. Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum), is easily cultivated if deep shade is given and good drainage provided. Plant it along the borders of the beds one foot apart.
Construct the tank or pool of concrete, making the sides and bottom about six inches thick. The coping may be made of cement too, instead of marble which is quite expensive, but have it eight or ten inches wide and do not let it rise much above the surface of the ground; the lower it is the better the effect will be. The urns and the fountain that are in the plan may be omitted, and for the latter a small inconspicuous pipe substituted to provide water for the basin. In place of stone benches English garden seats might be used with just as good results, but seats of some sort you should have as you will use them continually. Around the coping a turf border may be laid instead of the bed of Aegopodium in the plan (No. 10). Make the turf border one and one-half feet wide and plant it with clumps of Japanese Iris, Iris sibirica and Flowering Fern, naturalizing Narcissi between the clumps. The border should be confined by a brick coping, the ends of the bricks being embedded and protruding two inches above the level of the path.
On the curved side of the pool build a shelf ten inches wide with a side four inches high, and place it so that it will be four or five inches below the surface of the water. This shelf is 4, 5, 6, 7 in the plan and should be planted with (4 and 6) Parrot's Feather, (5) Water Poppy, and (7) Bulrush. Also make shelves for the two angles (8) and plant them under water with the Cat-tail Flag (Typha latifolia). The shelf numbered 9 is for Cyperus alter-nifolia, a graceful flowering Sedge with bright green foliage. The plants established on these shelves are those whose natural habitat is the shallow water, on the shores of ponds, and planted in this way they appear to be growing from the bottom of the pool. They make an excellent border for the basin and furnish it luxuriantly.
The Water Lilies marked 1, 2, 3 on the plan should be planted in slat-sided boxes in good rich loam, and placed on the bottom of the pool three feet below the surface. No. 1 is Nympheamarliacea chromatella, a Marliac hybrid, a large, yellow, fragrant Lily that blooms continuously through the Summer. It is hardy, and may be left in the pool from year to year if the water is not drawn off in the Winter. No. 2, Nymphea Zanzibarensis is not hardy and should be taken up in the Fall and stored in some warm, damp place until Spring. It is hardly worth while to go to so much trouble for one plant, however, and it would be better to procure a new specimen each year, for warm, damp places are hard to find. This Lily is worth buying anew each season, for it blooms freely and bears a beautiful, very large, deep purple flower. Nymphea tuberosa Richardsoni is an American Lily with large double flowers.
Plan of Plantin Water Garden.
The above named Water Lilies were chosen for their blooming qualities, as they flower abundantly all the season, for in a small pool continuous bloom is absolutely necessary. The well known Pond Lily is almost as beautiful as any, and has the sweetest perfume, but it will not make any show in a small garden as it is a shy bloomer of medium growth. And it is so with many other Lilies that would be satisfactory in a pond or good-sized natural pool or backwater, but that would prove exasperating in a garden basin.
If the pool is three feet deep as it should be, the water may be left in it all Winter if the top is boarded over and covered with a few inches of leaves or straw. Then most of the plants may be left undisturbed from year to year. The goldfish, with which every pool should be plentifully provided, may be left for the Winter too, and this will save a lot of trouble and care. The fish will be useful in keeping down the "wrigglers" and are a source of much pleasure besides. Toads will come down to your waterside in armies to breed, but the spawn which is readily discerned floating on the surface of the water may easily be removed with a little scoop net made of fine gauze; and toads should really be encouraged as they destroy millions of undesirable insects.
In Summer, except in very dry periods, the rain will provide all the fresh water that is needed, and rain-water is much better than water from the tap. If the latter is supplied too freely in hot weather a very undesirable water-plant that much resembles noxious green scum will spring up quickly and prove a nuisance.
Nymphea pygmaea; Asiatic white Water Lily; can be grown in a few inches of water; small, not free blooming.
N. Helvola; yellow; small; the best Water Lily for a tub.
N. alba candidissima; of the finest form; requires a great deal of room and a depth of water of five or six feet.
N. alba rosea; pale rosy pink; the earliest to flower, ceasing early.
N. Gladstoniana, pure white; broad petals; one of the best.
N. odorata; American white Water Lily; medium growth.
N. odorata rubra; Cape Cod variety; pink; small; not a free bloomer.
N. marliacea Candida; very large; white; flower seven to ten inches in diameter.
N. marliacea rosea; decided pink tinge; flowers of good form.
N. marliacea flammea; highly coloured; very fine.
N. marliacea rubra-punctata; very large; colour carmine.
The foregoing hybrids are of vigourous growth and are better in deep water, from three and a half to eight feet.
The following are suited to shallow pools, tanks or tubs:
N. Laydekeri rosea; pale rose, growing darker with age; early flowering; difficult to propagate.
N. Laydekeri lilacina; flowers tinged with lilac.
N. Laydekeri fulgens; darker than lilacina, with quite large flowers.
N. Laydekeri prolifera; free flowering; pink.
N. odorata rosacea; very pale pink; free flowering.
N. odorata sulphurea grandiflora; pale yellow; flowers carried well out of the water; foliage mottled; petals long, narrow and tapering.
N. Robinsoni; red with a tinge of yellow; a good grower.
N. gloriosa; carmine; finest of all the hybrids.