Posts Tagged ‘water’

Water in the garden (2)

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

I have just come back from Marrakech, a city that exists and functions as a result of the water channelled from the Atlas mountains. As any short break should do, I have come back refreshed and intrigued by the architecture, the culture and the contrasts of that city. Back home things couldn’t be more contrasting, a lush landscape in the full throws of spring, where we tend not to think much about water in our daily lives, where we can be free to play with it in our gardens and even waste it.

Water in hot countries is used in gardens for its cooling effect, for example in Marrakech the ‘riad’ courtyards are open to the sky with a simple pool of water at their centre, this creates an upward draught of cool air. Here in our gardens water is not usually taken very seriously however it can be a fantastic addition to the garden attracting insects, birds, amphibians (snakes!) as well as being attractive, creating dancing patterns of light, possibly introducing sound and supporting a range of interesting aquatic plants. The bigger the water feature, the bigger the benefit!(

In my garden, the pond is the main focal point, at coffee time, I often sit outside my office next to the pond, and marvel at the life it supports, it is a haven for newts, they are a joy to behold, gracefully gliding through the water and the more I look, the more diverse life forms reveal themselves – last week we discovered that great crested newts have adopted our pond, a large, majestic but rather shy beauty!

The pond in our garden is about ten years old, approximately three metres square and 0.7 metres deep, the base is deeply covered with oxygenating weed (therefore offering different niches, oxygen, shade, shelter, breeding sites…). It has been fish free for about 6 years and it has gradually become inhabited by newts. Last year we had breeding grass snakes in the garden and feared for the future of our newts but happily they are still doing well.

Landscape architect, Kim Wilkie, has a great approach to using water in his projects, in his words “I try to understand the memories and associations embedded in a place and the natural flows of people, land, water and climate” (

Rain garden feature – Cyber park – Marrakech

Water 2 – the eye of the landscape

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Water is the eye of the landscape” this is what my lecturer Peter Thoday used to tell us. Reservoirs, lakes, rivers, the sea and even our small garden ponds; they never fail to demand our attention, their magical surfaces reflecting the moods of the weather and the shifting shadows of the surrounding landscape. Up close we are drawn to peer into the depths or maybe indulge in a bit of wild swimming.

This medium, the source of life on our blue planet, can be manipulated endlessly to create sound, habitat, irrigation, etc… and the garden at Shute House ( Donhead St Mary, near Shaftesbury) illustrates this rather well.

It was at Shute House that I found myself on a winding path through a lush grove of Camelia and Prunus laurocerassus which opened onto a deep circular pool, squeezing me and the path up against the overhanging greenery. The crystal water was deep with hints of turquoise as it disappeared from view.

In the 1960′s, garden designer, Geoffrey Jellicoe used the water from this spring fed pool, weaving it around the modest sized garden in the form of pools, canals, musical waterfalls and rills before releasing it out of the garden through two more pools in the water meadow below and eventually into the river Nadder at the bottom of the valley. An ingenious use of a natural water source in a hillside garden and described by many as Jellicoe’s ‘masterpiece’.

Be inspired! Water in the garden does not have to rely on a natural spring or stream, nor on a pumped system from the mains tap.  It falls freely from the sky, can be captured and used in our gardens creatively.  Nigel Dunnett, of Sheffield University, designs with rainwater to create  “rain gardens”, magical!