Monday, November 18, 2013

On Water, a new backyard "stream"

Finished "stream"
 As the year ends and we all begin to think of the highlights from our garden this past year, I must reflect of one single element alone … water.  Who in their right mind would install a water feature in their back yard shortly after our late summer monsoons and flooding??  Yes, there were surging creek waters a mile down from my house, but I was determined this was an addition I was going to make to my property.  Besides. living on a hillside near an old growth stand of pines that had stood firm against the rains gave me courage to sail on!

Beginning the project
Taking shape
I’ve had a longing to do this for years.   A renewed desire came from visiting surrounding gardens earlier in the summer where birds and butterflies were happily making themselves at home in lush gardens with the gurgling of close-by water.  What can I say – I was hooked and actually convinced myself to take it off the potential projects list and put it on the priority list instead.  This piece is not meant as a step by step outline on installing water features in your back yard; other than making sure you do your homework on site locations, design, pump specifics, linings and surrounding garden plantings and features.  Instead, I’d like to share what pleasures the finished work has provided to me as well as the surrounding wildlife.

Within a few hours of the stream bed flowing in daylight operation, there were two hummingbirds that came to investigate the small water falls in the small upper & lower pools, plus the water running through the actual stone-filled bed connecting the two pools.  I’d read that they were drawn to moving water and now I can attest, as I watched them tip-toe into the water take a ‘big-bird style’ bath and come out shaking the excess water off like a dog! Shortly after this happened, a big red tail hawk appeared in an adjacent pine and started watching for activity.  However, within 2 days he realized there were no fish to be had, so he moved on.  About this time, I also discovered I’d made my own big butterfly puddle as well. I had two late summer fritillaries that came to enjoy the sun & water one afternoon. The blooming flowers were at a premium, so it was fun to see them at the edge of the stones, drinking and soaking up the sun on their wings.  The elk have had their turn drinking from the streambed and recently a migrating flock of robins enjoyed the stream and pools for their afternoon community swim. 

I’ve rediscovered the peace and tranquility that gentle running water offers … especially outside in a natural setting. (May I also add the effect is not the same when the sounds may come from below a kitchen sink or a laundry room??)  Even a small scale fountain from your local garden center on a back deck or sunroom can provide hours of quiet and thoughtful times … just ask me how many chores are getting done while I wait to refill this feature for returning birds next Spring.

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