A Water Garden Specialist

Garden ponds form a balanced ecosystem

Ken Bernard
Owner of Garden Ponds Nursery

Please tell us about your business. Garden Ponds in Kilauea is a place you can come to get ideas for your garden. You can find idea after idea about what to do with your gardens to make them a special place. We specialize in water container gardens, so we have an amazing selection of ceramic pots – all different sizes.

What is a water container garden? A water container garden is a pond within a ceramic pot. Within that pond you have a balanced ecosystem – water-clarifying plants, fish, snails and water lily growing on the surface, creating a little bit of shade. The advantage of having a balanced ecosystem is you have very little work to do. It almost takes care of itself.

How did you start this business? About 18 years ago I was managing the cable TV company in Princeville. A friend of mine needed someone to take over their gardening business, so I decided I would manage it and take it over. Before I knew it, I was falling in love with gardening, and so I became a full-time gardener. I was planning to simplify my life and get out of the corporate world, and before I knew it I formed a corporation and I had 12 employees.

Ken Bernard sells many garden specialty items. Coco Zickos photos

What is the most rewarding aspect of your business? The response I get from people coming to Garden Ponds. Their eyes get wide, their smiles get big, and when they leave they seem to have shifted in some way and they take something with them.

What is the most challenging aspect of your business? To always be changing, refreshing and staying current with what the public wants because it’s always shifting or changing.

Do you have a business motto or philosophy? Create a place of peace and balance.

What makes you get up every day and go to work? Creativity. Every day I have the opportunity to be creative and to share water gardening with customers. To share my world, it’s so exciting – people walk in looking for ideas, and being able to help them find some inspiration and excitement about creating a place of peace and balance.

What is your favorite item sold here? Water lilies. They are my passion. They’re the most ancient flowering plant on the planet. There are only two plants I know of where the flower changes sex, the water lily and the lotus. So, the first day they bloom they are female, and on the second, third or fourth day, they’re male. And they only last four days. Most plants are created through tissue samples and water lilies can’t be divided that way, so they can’t be created in a laboratory, so we have to do it nature’s way, which is really neat.

One of the many varieties of water lilies available

Where are you from and when did you move to the island? I was born and raised in California. I arrived on Kaua’i more than 31 years ago because I felt called to come here.

What are some of your future aspirations for this business? My son Jake bought into the business recently, so there is lots of change coming and I can’t even image what all of the change is going to be. So far, in the last year, it’s been really exciting to have my son go on buying trips and bring back the things that he’s passionate about.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I really can’t think of anything else I’d really want to do. I would be taking care of my water lilies at home.

Open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
5-2719 Kuhio Hwy., Kilauea