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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Pumping up water features

This week at Drake Community Library, the Grinnell Area Garden Club (GAGC) got “Excited About Water Features” in a talk by visiting water features expert Jamie Beyer. Grinnell’s green thumbs have been adding to their gardens this year with a series of monthly talks focused on different aspects of gardening.

Gene Herman, President of the GAGC, explained that the series of talks is meant to enrich local gardening expertise with a half dozen different lectures on topics ranging from vegetable farming tactics to weeds, both beneficial and baneful. The garden club is meant to provide a forum for sharing gardening tips and know-how in Grinnell’s community, as well as to serve the Grinnell community through efforts like their 2011 landscaping project  in front of the new Grinnell Area Arts Council building.

At this week’s water features talk, Beyer discussed the value of water gardens on a variety of scales, from small ponds with a few water lilies floating on them to grand waterfalls that are loud enough to drown out the neighbors. Beyer’s reasons for sharing his knowledge were obvious from the context of his talk.

“It’s a passion I have, of course, and I go all over the Midwest with my presentations and I was invited [here],” he said. “And I said ‘Of course! If I have the time, I’ll do it.’”

Beyer welcomed the crowd warmly and began his presentation slides with a beautiful photo of a pond filled with islands of floating water lilies. He flipped through slide after slide, featuring large water fountains and rustic pumps that would be a great addition to any garden. He also talked beyond just the aesthetics of having a water garden.

“Every bird will come into your garden to take a bath,” Beyer said, provoking chuckles throughout the room.

Community members were able to engage with Beyer throughout the presentation, asking questions and discussing Grinnell’s garden lore. One attendee noted the boundless possibilities of water features in Grinnell, and the joy of fountains and features in the garden setting.

“I have a couple [of water gardens], but I want to start more of the small ones, [and add] … a lot of blossoms and those sort of things,” one attendee said. “But it’s a lot of work.”

Beyer himself is aware of the amount of work required by such beautiful water gardens, having worked in gardening and water features for over 35 years. He reviewed his own humble beginnings with photos of his first water garden, a rain barrel with a few simple lilies. According to Beyer, the qualities the water gardens bring to a gardener’s landscape are well worth the work put in.

“[Water gardens] add that dimension of sound to a garden,” Beyer said. “And the lushness of the plants that are associated with them adds to the beauty of the landscape.”

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