Wet Spot 

Backyard-pond aficionados will get on swimmingly at Pond-O-Rama

"Whether people decide to go with 50 [plastic] flamingoes or a Chinese theme, with Niagara Falls or a small trickle," says St. Louis Water Gardening Society president Joe Summers, "water gardening is becoming more popular every year."

Do-it-yourselfers are having a go at a craft that was formerly the domain of landscape architects. People are installing recirculating streams, Japanese bridges and burbling waterfalls in their flat South City backyards, and this weekend you can have a gander at 35 water gardens big and small throughout the region.

The second annual Pond-O-Rama self-guided water-garden tour, sponsored by the St. Louis Water Gardening Society, allows you to sneak into the backyards of shanties and castles alike. Tourgoers will see waterfalls, streams, fountains, water lilies, statuary and stepping stones. They may even encounter a cheesy fog machine in a garden belonging to the mystically inclined.

Summers says water gardens range from the $100 kit job you can buy at a Home Depot to the spectacular $250,000 custom job on which he recently assisted. The full range will be represented on Pond-O-Rama.

You may also make some new friends on the tour. Frogs love ponds, and many pond owners love hearing the voices of frogs and toads outside their windows as they doze off. Many water gardeners also stock their ponds with goldfish or koi (Japanese carp). The koi have a reputation for tameness, sometimes actually allowing their owners to pet them! Koi routinely live 60 years, and some have been known to live much longer -- one in Japan reportedly lived 226 years.

Summers says a gardener once showed him a photo of a 100-foot stream he had constructed in his flat yard. This spectacular waterway seems like a logical first step toward the creation of an even cooler backyard attraction: the minigolf course.

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