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A small water feature makes a big impact with the right plants

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Do you ever long for a large water feature in your landscape? But considerations of money, time, maintenance, logistics or all of the above keep that from happening?

If you find yourself confined to thinking smaller when it comes to water, take a tip from the design of Roger Williams, Phil Wood, and Bob Lilly.

These talented gentlemen were responsible for the Washington Arboretum Foundation’s display at Seattle’s 2011 Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Winning both a gold and the Pacific Horticulture Magazine award, this clever garden celebrated the Arboretum’s 50th anniversary of its own Japanese Garden.

My favorite part of the display was how the designers handled water. They combined a small water feature with a large planting that mimics water.

A modest pool with a bamboo clacker [see first photo at left] gives the needed sound and sparkle. Then dwarf green mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) steps in as a water substitute.

The low-growing lily turf grasses spill down from the real water and flow under the bridge [see second photo at left; click on the arrow at the right base of the first photo] to form a pond. Large rocks rise up from the planting, like islands in a grassy sea. Rounded river cobbles form a beach on the edge.

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