Themed gardens are very popular now. Gardening magazines feature articles on “Growing Your Own Salsa Garden” (tomatoes, cilantro, peppers, onions), a Marian or Biblical Garden concentrating on those plants found in the bible, and moonlight gardens featuring white/light colored plants that glow in a full moon and flowers that bloom at night.
Even a pond could have a veritable Noah’s Ark of water plants– and with Noah saving the animals during the 40 days and 40 nights of rain and flooding, what theme could be more appropriate for a water garden. The DemonstrationGarden’s small pond contains at least two of these “Noah’s Ark” plants that are readily available in area nurseries.
So come on board the Ark and try a few of these animal themed water plants in your pond:
Horsetail Rush: This 2-3 foot spiked plant was used by Native Americans as a scouring agent as its stiff stems contain silica. There is also a pretty variegated variety called Zebra Bulrush that has white stripes along the green spikes. It grows to about 2-5 feet. Both of these plants are very easy to grow and will tolerate some shade as well as full sun.
Lizard’s Tail: The bright green foliage of this plant has fragrant, 4-6 inch spikes of fragrant white flowers that look like a lizard’s tail. It grows well in shade and flowers in the spring.
Cardinal Flower: A favorite of hummingbirds, its bright red flowers appear in the summer on 2-3 foot tall plants. It prefers full sun.
Parrot’s Feather: This beautiful feathered plant is a must for water gardens, especially those in part shade or even full sun. Its appearance softens a pond and it provides oxygen for fish that also use its long trailing stems to hide or lay their eggs. It can be grown in submerged pots or left to trail on top of the water. The Demonstration Garden has a nice stand of parrot’s feather growing in its pond. In the evening, the plant closes up and a drop of water sparkles on the end of the feathered fronds.
Chameleon Plant: Heart shaped leaves of crimson, green, yellow and cream decorate this showy plant that can be grown barely submerged in a pond.
Lousiana Iris “Black Game Cock”: Its velvety black-violet flowers with a gold crest in the center are a beautiful addition to a full sun pond.
Canna “Bengal Tiger”: With showy large yellow and green striped leaves and large bright orange flowers, this tropical canna thrives in full sun.
Frogbit: This small floating plant looks similar to a miniature water lily, though it gets its name from how it resembles the chin of a frog in water. Tiny cup shaped white flowers appear in July and August. Be careful though, this plant can be aggressive and easily cover a pond. Keep it thinned!!
Cattail: There are many species of cattails growing wild throughout the US. Some may grow up to 6-8 feet tall. Often the Dwarf Cattail, with a maximum height of 3 feet, is used in ponds as a background plant. Cattails require full sun to grow well and since they spread by rapidly by creeping root stalks and seeds, it is best to grow them in containers.
Finally, during those forty days and forty nights of rain, what plant would Noah have found very useful (and which is found at our DemonstrationGarden)? An Umbrella Palm, of course.
Do you have a favorite water garden “Noah’s Ark” plant to add to this list? Let us know.
Pictures from our garden by Ann and thanks to Tamu Aquatic Plant ID for Parrot’s Feather, Frogbit, and Cattail.