As Sir Roy Strong said, “Few things are more depressing in the average small garden than an instant plastic pool which provides little more than an entertainment centre for the local moggies”.
The number of times I go on a first visit to a garden only to find the aforementioned depressing plastic pool-always a “project” started by “him indoors” which has now failed and been abandoned-usually along with the ubiquitous brick built BBQ “project”, also abandoned. Here’s a typical pond ‘feature’, always too small and not relating to anything else in the garden. And look at those ‘3for2 offer’ blue glazed pots! And those stepping stones! I wonder if they were a bit tiddly when they laid them out?
But these muddy holes can be transformed-as here;
And here’s one I put in a few years ago-admittedly a bit bigger than your average water feature;
Water is great, and I try to use it in most of my gardens as it brings life, movement, sound and sparkle. And water features needn’t be huge-here are a few of my smaller ones;
And in my own garden I treated myself to this wonderful sculptural ‘reflective pool’. And no, it is NOT a bird bath! Thank you!
And in my own garden , being greedy, I also have this, again for its reflective watery qualities pulling light down from the sky:
I’m always picking up inspiration from garden visits-and a great watery visit is to Gresgarth Hall in Caton, Lancashire, home of Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd, one of our best garden designers.
For one of my clients I copied her idea of arriving at the house over water via a bridge-much more exciting than a driveway:
A later photo shows the bridge now dripping in clematis- time for a trim?
And I loved Tom Stuart-Smith’s water tanks in his last gold medal- winning Chelsea Flower Show garden. They had the most marvellous reflective qualities.
So I copied them of course! Only mine is an old galvanised feeding trough found cheaply on eBay;
But you can get it wrong as the Irish gardener Helen Dillon found when she (in a moment of hormonal madness) splashed out on a white monstrosity of a Trevi fountain (you can just about see it here in the background).
She spent the next 15 years trying to disguise it with plants, paint, anything, until a friend said looking at it, “Helen, you can put lipstick on a gorilla, but it’s still a gorilla.”
She ripped it out and replaced it with a beautiful canal to reflect the sky-brilliant decision.
So whether you have a big, or small garden, as Sir William Temple said in 1685;
“In every garden four things are necessary to be provided for, flowers, fruit, shade and water, and whoever lays out a garden without all these, must not pretend it in any perfection.”
Couldn’t agree more.