Tag Archive | water

Rock Stack Pondless Fountain

This fountain may look familiar to you if you were around when I first started my blog in 2013. It was one of my first few posts. What started this whole fascination with pondless fountains was my husband bringing home a large clay pot from a client’s house. I looked at it, thinking to myself, “Gee, this would look cool laying on it’s side, spilling out water.” And the rest is history.

After having him install that first fountain, we were addicted. When I started my garden design business, I was approached by a client wondering if I installed these type fountains. I said, “Heck yeah!” and showed her the clay fountain we had installed. She had found some copper pots and hoped my artist hubby could figure something out for her. He did and it is so unique. (check out the link above to see it).

Since then, he’s been putzing around with other designs. He likes the ‘rock-stacked’ look and this one was created. I love it! It was placed in the front of my house. When the windows are open, I can hear the splish-splash of the water. I like to sit in the window on weekends and see all the wildlife that visits it. Bees, wasps, birds of all sizes (saw my first flicker!!), squirrels, bunnies and chipmunks all take their turns enjoying the water.

I was so excited to reinstall it after having to temporarily remove it so I could redesign the front garden. After two long years, its back in operation at the Farrell house! Woo-Hoo!!



I’m not the only one to see it back in operation!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Long Pond ~ Kickapoo State Park


This area was inhabited by the Kickapoo tribe. They later were moved to Kansas.
Kickapoo (Kiikaapoa or Kiikaapoi) which means “Stands here and there,” and “wanderer” which describes their nomadic ways.
This area was once a marred landscape, ravaged by turn-of-the-century strip-mine operations. Fifty years of nature’s rejuvenation have changed Kickapoo’s 2,842 acres into an outdoor playground. Twenty-two deep water ponds, ranging in size from 0.2 of an acre to 57 acres, provide a total of 221 acres of water for boaters, canoeists, scuba divers and anglers.
Long Pond is right below our camp site. It was a great kayak paddle.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Gross Reservoir / Dam and South Border Creek ~ Colorado


We took a wonderful, dam drive out to the Gross Reservoir area looking for a dam place to hike. The reservoir area was kind of boring. We decided to go towards Osprey Point which headed up! We found this parking area and heard water… That was an invite in my dam mind!

This river was a Class V Kayak run:

Class V- Extremely difficult. Long and violent rapids that follow each other almost without interruption. River filled with obstructions. Big drops and violent currents. Extremely steep gradient. Even reconnoitering may be difficult. Rescue preparations mandatory. Can be run only by top experts in specially equipped whitewater canoes, decked craft, and kayaks… Mmm, so we’re juuuust a tad under-experienced 😉 Safe to say, we didn’t brink our Yaks.

We decided to hike the random railroad tie steps down to the water. Pretty dam steep my friends. I walk leaning back in case I fall, I’m way closer to the ground. I had my grippy shoes on for rocks, however all bets are off with the dam loose soil. We noted the sign warning of cougar attacks and how to thwart one… Remember, you never need to outrun the thing chasing you, just who your with 😉 I also hoped to not be part of a horror movie where the dam dam breaks and we’re washed away…

It was well worth walking down to the water. Toe test proved it to be pretty dam cold. No wading for me, although we did see a few fly fishers standing in it, no prob.

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Owned and Operated by Denver Water. I think there are seven reservoirs total. Colorado is pretty anal about their dam water. I get it. It will be worth more than gold, once people get their heads out of their dam asses!!
Elevation: 7,225 feet (2,220 meters) — spillway
Capacity: 41,811 acre feet (one acre foot = 325,851 gallons)


Karma Khameleon ??








Gross Reservoir

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The Dam Lookout



The Dam Mountain View

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Rain Garden Maintenance

We had a client that requested us to have his retention basins replanted with more color than the all cattail garden. We installed the plugs last September. Here is the results of our venture! Although just a bit thin, every species seemed to have made it over the winter and the full filling of the basins.

I was able to get released from the chains of my desk and got to come out to this location! This was a special treat! The whole reason I was let-out was because there was no one able to identify native plants. Why am I wasting my time sitting at a desk? Anyhow.

Here’s what the basins looked like this July.  There were a few cattails that were trying to resurface, however we pulled them by hand. The basin only measured about 14 feet wide so I waded in with my rubbers and threw the offending weeds at my crew for them to collect. They couldn’t identify the weeds fast enough, so they learned by looking at the things I had already pulled.



The lobelia and bull rush look so beautiful to me. I wish more people thought as much. Another reason I was brought out here was the clients were complaining that they weren’t seeing fields of color. No patience whatsoever. Grasses always grow faster than the flowers (forbs). Native restorations are usually said to be complete in three years. This is only year one.


Sagittaria latifolia – Common arrowhead

Very tasty when roasted, the texture is somewhat like potatoes with a taste like sweet chestnuts. The tubers can be eaten raw but they are rather bitter. It is best to remove this skin after the tubers have been cooked, but before eating. The tubers can also be dried and ground into a powder, this powder can be used as a gruel or mixed with cereal flours and used to make bread. North American Indians would slice the boiled roots into thin sections and string them on ropes to dry in much the same way as apples. The tubers are best harvested in the late summer as the leaves die down.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 8-3-2015

How to Collect, Store and Grow Things From Seed

seed collection pixIt’s an advantage to vegetable gardeners to harvest seeds from plants that did well in their garden. The plant would have grown accustomed to the particulars of the plot, and provided the same DNA to the seeds. Unfortunately, hybrid varieties do not keep their traits; don’t collect these unless one likes surprises.

It is illegal to gather seed in forest preserves, natural areas, or parks. It is legal to gather seed on rights-of-way, which are mostly along public highways. Do not take all of the seeds of a plant, please share with Mother Nature.

Most seeds are easy to find and harvest like peas, peppers, cucumbers, and melons. Others need the help of a blender like eggplant. Chop the fruit, add water, blend for a short time, and allow the pulp to settle. Pour off the pulp, the viable seeds will be at the bottom.

Deer  Resistant Plants

imageMany Midwestern residents deal with the grazing and trampling of their shrubs by Odocoileus virginianus or the white-tailed deer. There are many choices of shrubs that are deer-resistant, but here’s a list of North American natives that will work in Midwest. Remember, when the weather is sever enough, deer will eat anything.

Click HERE for Trees

Click HERE for Shrubs

Click HERE for Perennials


There’s no O in Ohio’s H2O!!


Cuyahoga River Fire Nov. 3, 1952. Courtesy of Cleveland Press Collection at Cleveland State University Library.

I just heard about Ohio’s water supply problems related to Lake Erie’s algae blooms. Seems they can’t get potable water from the lake and have had to resort to bottled water. Many businesses are closed and I’m sure everyone is smelling a bit ripe nowadays.

There are many theories as to how these algae blooms happen, however I’m pretty set on the theory of phosphorous run-off into the lake and lack of wetland restoration projects are the main culprits.

I found this great video to educate anyone interested in learning more about algae blooms (dead zones) and what can be done about it. I also wrote about them here, if you’re interested!




McHenry Lock & Dam

Last weekend, when we had a tease of spring in the air, we took a hike at Moraine Hills State Park with a quick trip to the McHenry dam. It was a dam great day to go!

Stolen directly from the Moraine Hills Website, an excerpt on the local geology:

The 48-acre Lake Defiance, located near the center of the park, was formed when a large portion of ice broke away from the main glacier and melted. Lake Defiance is gradually filling in with peat from its unstable shoreline. The lake is one of the few glacial lakes in Illinois that has remained largely undeveloped, maintaining a near-natural condition.

Pike Marsh, a 115-acre area in the southeast corner of the park, is home to many rare plants. Its outer fen area (a very rare marsh wetland) includes Ohio goldenrod, Kalm’s lobelia, dwarf birch and hoary willow, while cattails and bulrushes grow in its interior. Pike Marsh also supports one of the state’s largest known colonies of pitcher plants, which attract, trap and digest insects.

The 120-acre region known as Leatherleaf Bog is an excellent example of kettle-moraine topography. In geological terms, a kettle is a depression formed when an isolated block of glacial ice melts. The bog consists of a floating mat of sphagnum moss and leatherleaf surrounded by a moat of water. Marsh fern, marsh marigold, St. John’s wort and several species of willow put down roots here. Because both Pike Marsh and Leatherleaf Bog are dedicated nature preserves, they are protected by law.

Moraine Hills offers three examples of wetland enhancements. Yellow-head, Black Tern and Opossum Run marshes are samples of what can be accomplished with a little help from man.


This is part of Possosum Run Marsh.


Lake Defiance in the background. Someone is waking up!


Sandhill Cranes! They are all over the place. Rumor has it that they are the true heralds of spring as they don’t migrate until the weather is truly going to turn nice.


When I was here two years ago, the water as very high and running over this part of the dam. They are working on the lock system in the background.


© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl