Water Water Everywhere

Posted on 24th Sep, 2009

Water seems to have been a bit of a theme for us this month.

In early September Caroline could be found visiting the west coast of Scotland and a project that she has been involved with for some years now. The original brief had requested a formal pool but this was abandoned in favour of a natural pool which would link the garden to the landscape beyond.

From the outset, the project posed a number of challenges. Perhaps the greatest was persuading one of the clients that the removal of a leylandii hedge located only 4 meters from the kitchen window, would not only open up the most incredible views but would not expose them to howling winds. As a starting point – a 3m section of the hedge was removed to create the “vista” to the pool and to see what effect this would have on the wind. In the event, the gap in the hedge got bigger and bigger until it was removed completely! A good lesson in how a hedge can sometimes create wind, as in this case it was creating a wind tunnel. The removal of the hedge allows the pool to act as a key focal point bringing light, movement, colour and wildlife close to the property and it gives much enjoyment to the clients who often lingering at the kitchen table with binoculars and bird book in hand.

Busman's Holiday! Caroline gets to work clearing weed

Water – can add some much to a garden. From the gentle sound of a fountain in a small urban courtyard to the light and movement, it can bring on a larger scale in the form of a formal water feature or as a feature blending the garden into the landscape. These days water can be introduced into gardens in so many different guises – spouts, bubbles, fountains, jets, walls, rills, waterfalls, pools, ponds and lakes. As designers, we are always keen to explore ways to add water to projects if appropriate, but it has to be said working with water is complex. Even the simplest of water features needs careful consideration before being included – and a water feature just for the sake of it is not how we approach our design work. For Gardenamkers water needs to be integral to the whole design – not bolted on as an addition.

Understanding the complexity of building water features, and making them work once installed is vital to their success. To this end, we attended an excellent seminar this month given by Martin Kelley, one of this country’s leading water garden specialists. Martin covered all aspects of building, constructing and maintaining all kinds of water features from the formal to the informal from – sleek contemporary stone water tables and stainless steel water walls to formal pools, lakes and natural swimming pools. The introduction of new materials has helped develop new construction techniques, while a better understanding of how to maintain water features has helped to make them a factor in many more garden projects and as designers, it's important to understand these new developments and update our knowledge so we can apply them to our own projects.

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