Julie Hammett and Dan Cummins invite you to see their water garden, where they spend pleasant evenings listening to the burble of their waterfall and watching their jewel-colored fish.
Water garden enthusiasts say the hobby is about gardening, raising fish and bringing a bit of nature into their backyards.
“It’s kind of fun to watch the fish,” Cummins said. “We’ll sit out here and listen to the waterfall. It’s like when you go to the woods and go out by a stream.”
The Lee’s Summit couple is taking part in the 24th annual tour held by the Water Garden Society of Greater Kansas City July 8 and 9.
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Bob and Frances Schmuck, of Raymore, are participating in the tour, too. The former Lee’s Summit residents moved to Raymore about four years ago, built a pond and began adding model trains.
Of the 44 ponds on the self-directed tour, 10 have never been on tour before. Seven sites have garden trains. Several are in Lee’s Summit and Cass County. Most are residential gardens, along with Water Garden Society-built educational ponds at schools and non-profit agencies, including The Kansas City Zoo.
Hammett, a long-time member, was number 24 when she joined. Now the club has about 2,500 members.
Taking care of the water garden is enjoyable, if a sometimes challenging task. She contends with rabbits that want to make a meal of plants and herons that would make a meal of her fish, a mix of koi, shubunkins and other fish.
Cummins said the idea is to create a “mini ecosystem” balanced for the fish and plants. The pond is deep enough to over-winter the fish, he said.
They’ve bought special boulders with grooves in them where succulents can attach themselves to create a variety of plants around the pond.
“Julie is the planter and the picker of the plants,” Cummins said. “I work on maintaining the pump. The pond holds about 4,000 gallons of water and about 40 fish, he said.
Bob Schmuck is a model railroader who’s added miniature buildings and track to the water garden scene at his house.
He’s used kits to piece together a depot, grocers or homes, and planted dwarf pines around them to give it a realistic look. Of course there’s also a waterfall and fish.
He now has four trains he sends chugging around the garden which dominates their back yard.
“I’m still tweaking it,” Schmuck said. “Next year I’ll have a fifth train running under the waterfall,” he said.
He and his wife just recently joined the society, but he’s always gardened with flowers and also had a Christmas tree farm. He got started when several small trees in the Raymore yard died and he wanted something to replace them.
Recently retired, the hobby gives him a pastime and gets him out of the house.
“I’d rather be outside, I relax better outside,” Schmuck said.
Tour of Fountains, Fish, Frogs & Flowers
The self-directed tour of water gardens held by Water Garden Society of Greater Kansas City runs July 8 and 9 in the metropolitan area. There are 44 ponds on the self-directed tour, 10 of which have never been on tour before, and seven sites with garden trains.
Several are in Lee’s Summit and Cass County.
Most are residential gardens, along with Water Garden Society built educational ponds at schools and non-profit agencies, including The Kansas City Zoo. The 2017 public tour theme is the “Tour of Fountains, Fish, Frogs & Flowers.”
The $10 ticket/booklet for the tour are $10 per person 14 years and over and includes a map with driving instructions showing the locations. It can be purchased at garden centers throughout the community as well as area Hen House and Westlake Hardware stores. It is the society’s major fundraiser. Proceeds benefit construction and maintenance of educational and restorative water gardens and other educational programs in the Kansas City area. More information is available at www.kcwatergarden.com.