Thinking about installing a water garden? Then you won’t want to miss the Water Garden Society of Greater Kansas City’s annual water garden tour July 8 and 9. It will feature 44 ponds, most of which are private home gardens, though some are at schools and nonprofits like the Kansas City Zoo. Seven of the gardens will have trains.
All the gardens on the tour, titled “Tour of Fountains, Fish, Frogs and Flowers,” have three things in common: moving water, plants and goldfish or koi. The various iterations on this tour will give you a wide array of design ideas ranging from traditional and elegant to artsy and whimsical.
Linda and Michael Harwood’s Shawnee backyard will be on the tour for the fifth time. In years past, attendees might have glimpsed a faux alligator lurking among water lilies or a dragon standing over a cauldron full of flowers. The alligator is still there, but the dragon has been replaced by a large steel sculpture of two dragonflies dancing in a pond that Linda and her daughter created and lined with mosaics.
“The whole backyard is pretty much a water garden display,” Linda says. “My husband said we couldn’t have a fourth pond, so we showed him we could.”
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They’ve also added a garden train and another large pond with a customized fence, a dual waterfall and a large sea turtle carved of limestone that spits water.
“It’s one of those things, it gets in your blood and you just keep going,” she says. “It’s sort of a go big or go home thing.”
The Harwoods also have six varieties of fish in their gardens: koi, butterfly koi, orff, Shubunkin, goldfish and lemon goldfish, many of them from a rescue program sponsored by the Water Garden Society.
“Whether a pond needs to close or has too many fish, we go out and collect the fish and adopt them out to members of Water Garden Society,” Linda says.
Tickets are $10, ages 14 and over, and can be purchased at area garden centers, as well as Hen House and Westlake Hardware stores. Proceeds benefit construction and maintenance of educational and restorative water gardens and other educational programs in the Kansas City area. For groups and bus tours, go to kcwatergardens.com.