The Bristol Magazine June 2021

Page 70

Gardening – june.qxp_Layout 2 21/05/2021 17:07 Page 1

GARDENING

“Water is a calming element to include in any garden, and it doesn’t have to be a lake set in rolling acres or even a large pond,” says Elly.

Wet and wild

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everal years ago, not too long after I moved into my current house, some friends bought me a self-contained water feature for the garden. Towards the end of last year I noticed it had stopped working, but on a sunny day in spring I decided to try taking it apart and poking some wire in a tube to unblock it and get it going again. Happily it worked, so I’m now enjoying my garden even more with the relaxing sound of running water. Water is a calming element to include in any garden, and it doesn’t have to be a lake set in rolling acres or even a large pond. A simple bubbling fountain water feature, or a pond in a half-barrel or glazed pot is fun to create and will add that little bit of extra interest without costing a fortune or involving too much groundwork or digging, if any. Deciding on the type of water feature that you want to include is like any other design consideration. Do you want it to be formal or informal, traditional or contemporary? Is there a particular material that you love or hate? What will fit in well with the rest of your garden and the existing materials? Will you want to keep ornamental fish, or will the emphasis be on wildlife, or on the sight and sound of the water itself? You may also need to consider safety if there are young children using the garden. The next thing to think about is location, location, location. I would always recommend including some seating near to your water feature so that you can fully enjoy its relaxing and hypnotic qualities. It’s likely to become your favourite spot, where you can sit and watch for dragonflies and other wildlife, so an area that gets sun for at least part of the day may be important – and is vital if you are building a pond, 70 THE BRISTOL MAGAZINE

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which will need sunlight for pond plants to thrive. It’s also best to avoid siting a pond too closely to trees and shrubs that will drop their leaves into the water and cause it to go stagnant. Small water features with built-in pumps will also run more smoothly if they don’t get clogged up with leaves and other plant debris. A pond for wildlife needs to be at least 60cm deep in the deepest part, so that it will stay cool in summer and avoid freezing solid in winter. It also needs at least one side to be shallow enough for frogs and other creatures to climb in and out. A sloping pebble ‘beach’ is ideal, and when you build your pond, include shallow shelves at the edges for plants. It’s a good idea to include lots of plants in a wildlife pond, to create a mini ecosystem that will (hopefully!) take care of itself and keep the water clear. A combination of deep-water plants such as lilies, combined with marginals, like rushes and water irises, will help to keep the water healthy and provide hiding places for wildlife, and sitting places for lily-pad-loving frogs! If you don’t have the room, or inclination, for a pond then a bubbling pebble pool or stand-alone feature is a nice alternative that is decorative and provides a relaxing sound. You’ll need an electricity supply nearby, but most are very simple with a small pump that circulates water from a reservoir. This might already be built into the feature, or is easy to construct by digging a hole for a sump that will hold water along with your pump, then covering it with a grid with stones or pebbles on top. The water is then pumped up through a tube and out through a small spout, where it runs over your feature and

Image: Adobe Stock

As summer approaches, Elly West explains why adding blue spaces can transform our gardens into outdoor havens