This originally appeared in the Growing Together column of Northern Gardener.
In 2001, when Gary DeGrande wanted to install a pond, he joined the Minnesota Water Garden Society (MWGS).
“It’s no small thing, putting in a water garden,” says Gary, now MWGS president. “We have a lot of people with experience building and maintaining water features, as well as plants, water lilies, and fish. And they are willing to share all their knowledge. The group likes to help whether it’s with one plant in one pot or a huge water garden you’re just building.”
Now Gary has koi swimming in a beautiful pond that flows into a waterfall and then a small pool. Watching the koi spawn and the offspring develop is one of Gary’s favorite things about his pond. “They get to be like pets,” he says. “The neighbor boys have names for them all.”
MWGS meetings feature speakers on topics such as pond maintenance and algae control, water lilies and pond ecosystems. “It’s about balance,” says Gary. “Plants, filtration, fish, and oxygen—you have to make all these elements balance.”
Pond Parties at members’ homes are a great way to get to know other members and share knowledge. MWGS sponsors the Twin Cities Original Pond Tour, which is always held the last weekend in July. The group also maintains a pond on the Minnesota State Fair grounds.
So why are people drawn to water gardening? “It’s relaxing,” says Gary. “Hearing the water and seeing its movement, seeing the fish. It’s a challenge too because you keep dropping stuff in!”
For more information, visit www.mwgs.org or view the group’s monthly newsletter Waterlog.