I don't know why or when it suddenly struck me to do it, but I dove into creating two whiskey barrel water gardens this weekend.
The whole project was a study in perfectly-timed bargain shopping. Garden Ridge had the foam/lite whiskey barrels on sale for $19 each, so I scooped up two of 'em, along with a bag of polished river rocks. Lowe's had their water plants at half price, and I also found two large Black Magic Elephant Ear plants on a clearance shelf for $5 each. (Both looked a little abused, but each had new leaves emerging and healthy-looking white roots.)
Also, I had bought three gorgeous variegated irises at Home Depot last week and inserted these in the barrels as well. They were only $3 each, and were tagged with a Latin name of Iris Pumila 'Argentea' and the common name Variegated Sweet Iris, but those names don't match...Variegated Sweet Irises are generally bog plants falling under the Latin name Iris Pallida, so I'll be watching these carefully, in case they shouldn't be bog plants at all.
Needless to say, I was way pleased with the score: about $30 for each barrel, including plants!
I drilled a small runoff hole about 1-1/2" below the lip of each barrel, filled the barrels with water and placed the plants -- pot, dirt and all -- in the water, weighing each down with the rocks. The finishing touch was 1/4 of a mosquito dunk.
It'll take awhile for the other water plants to get going, as they were sitting in boggy water in the store and not receiving any sunlight, but I think the barrels look pretty good already.
A few minutes ago, I broke down and ordered three ultra-cool (and carnivorous!) Sarracenia leucophylla pitcher plants from my friends down in Florida at Sun Coast Orchids. They are great people to deal with, especially if you're looking for some cool orchids.
On another note, thanks for your patience the past month as I got my new domain up and running. Happy Independence Day, and be sure to look for a new Organic Gardening column over at Suite101.com in the next couple of days.