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.
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.
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.
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.
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.