Gardening in Langley: Think water features

Anne Marrison is happy to answer gardening questions. Send them to

  • Aug. 12, 2015 5:00 a.m.


The sight and sound of water doesn’t have to be completely absent in a drought-stricken garden. Birdbaths use almost no water but are still a joyful place for birds that are thirsty and also birds that want to splash around and wash.

Two Burnaby gardeners added a long, flat rock in the middle of their birdbath not only as a spot for small birds to perch while drinking, but also for paper wasps and other insects to do the same thing.

No space? A Maple Ridge gardener placed a beautiful and sturdy pottery saucer close to ground level.

This created a water source that was not only available to birds, but the house cats also found it easy to get a drink. So could insects because she also placed a shallow rock in the centre.

Placing rocks in a water source doesn’t only make it accessible for small, thirsty creatures, it also prevents crows from polluting the water by washing food in there.

A leaky birdbath can be a useful pot for shallow-rooted plants, especially sedums or sempervivums which can stand water-short conditions.

Generally, teasels in a garden are a huge nuisance: they’re well-armed with thorn-like prickles and they seed with a vengeance.

A Surrey gardener was delighted to find that after rain or watering, her teasel’s big, cup-shaped leaves formed small pools where hummingbirds were bathing.

Many low-water features owe their appearance to the magic of recirculating pumps.

A North Vancouver gardener has a mystery water feature where a brass tap seems to be suspended in air running water into a tiny pool.

A transparent tube fits into the centre of the pool at one end and into the tap spout at the top end.

He has drilled holes around the upper end of the tube.

Deep down in the pool a recirculating pump impels water up the tube, where within the tap it exits through all the drilled holes.

The water running down the outside of the transparent tube makes the tube invisible.

Standing stones which are a source of bubbling water have freedom from mosquitoes as a side benefit.

A Maple Ridge gardener has a group of three standing stones on a drain rock floor midway down a steep, winding path.

Bubbling water runs in sheets down rock, through the layer of stones down to a basin.

From there a pump moves the water up inside the rock. It’s quite possible to have a hole drilled longways up a standing rock.

Seasonal ponds and creeks also have a place in gardens.

A Langley gardener created a pond with rocks and stumps. It’s dry in summer but looks pondlike year-round. A Burnaby gardener made a seasonal creek that’s a path for most of the year. It’s paved with small, water-worn stones.

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