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Northeast Gardening: Where Water Lilies Glow

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Lowe's Northeast garden expert Irene Virag beautifies her garden with a koi pond where birds frolic and water lilies glow.

Claude Monet the gardener created a bridge to beauty with his water lily pond at Giverny.
Even before winged visitors show up, a tiered birdbath among the greenery offers water song and whimsy.

Water makes gardens glow as well as grow. The music of a trickling waterfall. Sunlight dancing on the ripples in a pond. The shimmer of koi and the twitter of birds - real twitter, not humans' 140-character electronic chatter.

The night music of the peepers or the splish-splash of a bullfrog jumping into the pond after a siesta in the sun. The magic of a dragonfly flitting by in an iridescent dazzle. All these things - and more - can be yours by introducing a little water into your garden.

The water can come in a trickle as well as a rush. Even a simple birdbath tucked among the beds and borders will attract birds and butterflies.

A fountain adds the comforting sound of falling water. And a pond opens up new possibilities for growing aquatic plants - water lilies, lotus, even papyrus.

No one understood the wonder water can bring to a garden more than Claude Monet, the French Impressionist whose paintings touch the soul. "I am good for nothing but painting and gardening," he once said, and I don't know what more the world could have asked of him.

Water lilies enhanced the gardens and paintings of Claude Monet.

The Impressionist is pictured on the footbridge traversing his pond in the image, based on a 1922 black-and-white photo courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden.

I have been to Monet's restored garden in Giverny, a town in the Seine valley northwest of Paris. It was spring, and a soft rain fell. As I walked in his shadow it seemed he created a garden to paint and the garden itself became a painting. His masterpiece was the water lily garden on a dappled pond he created by diverting a tributary of the Epte River.

I stood on the curved green footbridge that crosses the pond. Then I walked along the bank. Pink and white and lavender lilies floated in the water that held reflections of weeping willows, tall lindens and a bower of roses. When a breeze stirred, the images dissolved into specks of rippling color.

Water lilies bloom in the pool outside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden, where Monet's Garden is in bloom until October 21. Photo courtesy of New York Botanical Garden.

I thought about Giverny recently when I visited the Monet's Garden exhibit in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory of the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, New York. (The exhibit runs until October 21.) Blue delphiniums - which I just can't seem to grow in my own garden - pink poppies and purple foxgloves wowed me. Water lilies, including some varieties Monet grew, floated outside in the conservatory pool.

A hardy lotus decorates the water garden all summer, and survives winter to bloom again if I move the pot to the deepest part of the pond.

Soon after I got home I filled the two stone birdbaths in my backyard. Then I placed three potted water lilies - a deep purple, a pink with mottled leaves, and a night-blooming white variety - in the koi pond that helps bring pollinators to our front-yard garden. A cream-color lotus is already in the swim.

Tropical water lilies decorate the pond-like jewels.

It will never be Giverny, but the shifting shapes and colors of orange-speckled koi and pink and purple water lilies are already the stuff of dreams.