Introducing water into a design is not only good for the wildlife, it’s good for the soul, bringing sound, movement and reflection into a garden.
Water has been an ornamental feature in gardens throughout history; with rills and fountains, cascades and pools. We can get inspiration from gardens through history and see rills and spills being used in contemporary gardens today. From the Roman Gardens with their Peristyle or courtyard-style gardens through to the Renaissance era with fountains and cascades, here in this area of Portugal we are lucky to have several examples of wonderful historic water gardens.
Conimbriga with The House of the Water Jets is a wonderful example of a Roman water garden, with its stunning colonaded mosaic walkway and raised flower beds which are embedded with 400 water jets.
The Fonte Fria (cold fountain) at Busaco has water tumbling down a grand staircase of 144 steps.
Whether you have designs on a large informal feature, such as a natural pond, a formal pool set into a patio, or a simple pebble pool with a spout or urn, there is always a place for water in the garden. Water can be soothing and calming, its reflections can be enchanting, and it can also be exhilarating and enlivening.
The type of water feature you might choose will depend on the style of your house and your surrounding landscape; geometric formal pools suit more formal areas and are usually sparsely planted. If you choose to make a still, reflective pool it needs to be a minimum of 75cm and a dark base which will catch the best reflections (house/trees/sky). Informal pools are more organically shaped and are made to look more natural with various water depths for marginal plants. Use oxygenating plants to keep the water clear, but avoid invasive varieties. Features with moving water such as jets or fountains or spray can find a home in the smallest of gardens; they are usually constructed with an underground reservoir or tank, and an electric pond pump.
If you are considering putting a water feature in your garden make sure you carry out a little research; you need to consider the position, the construction (electricity for pumps), water depth, and don’t forget the plants. Aquatics are some of the most striking but do need to be considered carefully as there are many types and they have very different requirements.
Also known as pickerel weed; this is a marginal aquatic perennial which grows to about 1.2m and has deep blue flower spikes throughout late summer. Best grown in baskets of fertile loam, in shallow water and in full sun.
Shelley Barnes, Garden Designer for WatersEdge