‘Bubble and Trouble’ are two words that spring to mind when referring to children’s stories, politics and climate change. Since this is a gardening article then ‘bubble and trouble’ must relate to a feature in the garden. Some people are fortunate to have nature provide the water feature, such as a view of the ocean or a river. The trouble is if neither appears, then it is up to the gardeners to make their own bubble.
The simplest of water features is a static display. It may be a fish bowl or a pond with a few fish. Static displays are easy to keep as there are no pumps to think about. Keeping a pond clean will hinge on the plants living in the pond, keeping the water oxygenated and clear. A balanced pond will not be a mosquito risk because the fish eat the larvae.
Water features that have movement and sound can be hypnotizing, soothing and beautiful. Children have a fascination with running water; not only do they love to splash and play in water but the sound of splashing water is a magnet for them. Ideally, splashing water should not be deep or dangerous in a domestic situation. Laying some round lava rocks to keep the water shallow will guard against pets or children accidentally drowning.
The use of natural materials like bamboo, stones and plants will soften the harsh lines of plastic or concrete. The best colours to paint a pond are green or black. These colors absorb all the sunrays and enable the water to have a better reflection, the use of black rubberized paint also helps waterproof a cement pond.
There are two types of plants for ponds: those that can be fully submerged and those that prefer to sit in the boggy surrounds. Water lilies will required a depth of half a metre of water while lotus plants require at least one metre. Around the edges, papyrus grass can be maintained in a pot, as larger grasses will tend to take over if planted in the ground.
No pond is complete without a fern or two. If space permits, plant a black palm on the edge and surround it by smaller ferns. The reflections from ferns are fantastic. The water source can also be disguised as bubbling out of the rocks between the ferns.
Insect life such as dragon flies will come and hover over aquatic plants. As mentioned earlier, active or live ponds do not pose a mosquito risk because the natural predators will keep them under control, only stagnant ponds or pools of water become a health hazard. Keeping a pond in balance requires three things – sunlight, plants and fish. Aim to have only one third of the pond covered in plants as if there are too many plants, your pond will collapse.
Seeing water moving is a great joy. Anything from small water ornaments on the desk to larger stones or even pots with a circulating pump, can replace a water feature for those without a garden. Indoor water features, such as the fountains often found in hotel foyers, will need the addition of chlorine to keep the water clean. Another option is to keep replacing the water each week and add hydrogen peroxide to prevent algae growth.
Small or big water features take us back to nature and its soothing sounds. After a day of hard work in the garden, it is time to kick back and relax, enjoy that lovely babbling brook and let all the troubles melt away.
By Cornelia Wyllie. Cornelia s the caretaker of Rainbow Botanic Gardens. She is well-known for her in depth knowledge of tropical plants and gardening. Rainbow Gardens Nursery and the Botanical Gardens is open Monday to Friday 7.30 am to 5 pm, Saturday 7.30 to 12 pm and after hours by appointment. Take a tour of the Gardens to view Vanuatu’s fantastic range of tropical plants. Contact Tudsie on 7726720 to book a Garden Tour. Contact Cornelia to arrange functions and catering on 7724720.