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Plant a water garden in a pot

| Friday, Sept. 5, 2003

There's something so soothing about a pond -- still water, graceful waterlilies, tall grasses, maybe the gurgle of a nearby creek. If you've ever craved that by-the-banks serenity at home, good news: You don't have to have a huge yard to have your very own water garden. With miniature aquatics and a nice container, you can create a tiny pond anywhere you like -- on your patio, balcony, living room floor or even a tabletop.

The first thing to decide is how big you want your garden to be, and whether it will go indoors or outdoors. A wood barrel outside can fit several light-loving aquatic plants (such as waterlilies, arrowhead, floating water lettuce and water hyacinths), a pumped-water fountain and even some fish. If you want something to sit on your kitchen table, a single teacup lotus or a small stand of dwarf papyrus in a bowl might do.

"Almost anything can be turned into a water garden," says Bill Van Winkle, the aquatics manager at Johnson's Florist & Garden Center in Olney, Md. "A lot of people find a pot in the shed that belonged to grandma and turn it into one."

We chose a simple outdoor garden that we could bring inside for the winter: a hardy waterlily, an umbrella plant and a water iris, each left in their pots for easy maintenance, placed in a shallow, dish-shaped glazed pot.

For more complicated projects, or for detailed information on upkeep, visit your aquatic-plant supplier or see "Quick and Easy Container Water Gardens" by Philip Swindells (Workman) or Fine Gardening magazine's "Make a Big Splash With a Tiny Water Garden" ( www.taunton.com/finegardening/pages/g00042.as p).

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