Water Feature - How To Design With Plants

by Dawn
(Phoenix, AZ)

I'm doing a design at a water feature.


This is at the main entrance at a college. It is a pre-existing feature. I believe the liner has holes but fixing it is not an option right now. It gets very saturated with water around the rocks, and the water also has treatment in it.

They would like color added with plants that bloom most of the year,but are low maintenance and little debris. My obstacle is living in the southwest finding plants that require large amounts of water and little sunlight. The area is totally shaded,has little reflective light in the late afternoon (for maybe two hours maximum). I've requested putting decorative planters until the feature can be fixed of leaks. That was given thumbs up, but there's the issue of thieves taking plant in pots.

Are there some neat & inexpensive ideas for building small to medium planters that will look nice temporarily making the the college Dean & President & other higher- ups happy until things can be properly completed with the water feature? I would also appreciate some plant ideas. They do not want anything IN the water for reasons of algea.

Thank you for your time. My position was recently created with the college for purpose of creating jobs internal within the college. They have terminated the outside contractor's contract and hired me & one other person to care for 13 sites thru-out the Phoenix area.

My time is minimal and I'd like to give a 100% to secure my position as I am only temporary until proven to be an asset to the college, I'm not a landscaper / designer by trade, was trained in carpentry I & II & electrical I along with computers I & II. Please help. I have no photos at this time...

ANSWER

Hi Dawn,
This is a tall order!

1. There are no plants that bloom all year long that I know of.
2. There are very few plants that will provide dramatic color with only two hours of sunlight.
3. I have no photos to go by.
4. I can't recommend planters until I see the space and determine how many and what sizes would be appropriate.
5. Do you know how long it will be before they are ready to repair the water feature?

Take a look here for some ideas. Water Features

That being said...
You can achieve some of what you are looking for to make a nice presentation. Your best bet is probably shade loving perennials. Here are some you might consider:

Ferns - these have no flowers but provide a lovely, feathery look with pretty textures and at least there will be some greenery.

Bleeding Heart - have a long period of bloom. Do not get the large, old fashioned ones as they will die away. You need to buy Eximia or another long blooming variety.

Depending on the size of the planters, you might use one or more Annabelle Hydrangea. They get lovely, large white flowers. The plant gets to be about 3 feet tall and wide though.This might be a good choice if you use some very large pots instead of or with the planters.

That's a start for you. If you can, send me some pictures via my Contact Form.

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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
Helen, Ontario-Canada 

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