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Reflections on Water by JOHN MARTIN

photography by SIMONE PADDOCK

Installing a stream or pond can add a soothing element to your yard

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s perfect as Central Oregon is, few people are fortunate enough to live beside a river or creek, or even an irrigation canal. Those who do are graced with the charms of moving water around the clock for most, if not all, of the year. An increasing number of people who don’t live by a watercourse are doing the next best thing, though: They’re creating one in their backyard, beside their front door or even inside their house. Water features—whether they’re large ponds with cascading waterfalls or intimate pools with water trickling over a single rock—can bring the beauty and soothing sound of water into anyone’s yard. For those who have the space, a pond big enough to invite waterfowl and in which to grow giant cattails might include a

dramatic waterfall complete with tree snags fallen over giant boulders. But the effect of a mountain stream can also be created in a smaller scale for smaller yards. Having a miniature version of a tranquil mountain creek next to the front door offers a soothing message to all those who come or go. Kevin Zachary of Earth Designs in Bend has installed many natural-looking water features, both large and small, in Central Oregon. “We like to use native lava rocks with moss and lichen,” he says. “We want a water feature to look like it truly belongs where it is.” Zachary often uses mountain hemlocks, alpine firs and murrayana (lodgepole) pines next to the water to complete the feel of an alpine idyll. Not everyone, however, wants a mountain stream in the yard.

Statuary can dramatize a water feature and give it a narrative dimension by adding a human or animal story to the natural scene.

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The element of moving water is always there: simple, sensual and soothing.

Some people prefer the clean lines and architectural feel of a formal pool. For them, a smooth sheet of water falling into a poured concrete pool provides the beauty and restful sights and sounds they seek. Visual simplicity and a sense of controlled order replace visual complexity. More formal water features inevitably suggest classic fountains, whether something with statuary, as from an Italian piazza, or a simple channel of water leading to a square tiled pool, as in the Moorish gardens of Spain. If nature is mimicked in any of these, it is only in a very abstract or allegorical way. The element of moving water, however, is always there: simple, sensual and soothing. One popular type of water feature, which follows a middle course between a natural and a formal feel, is a column of basalt

rock that’s drilled so a pipe can be fitted through the rock’s center. Water is pumped up through the pipe and out the top of the basalt so that water can trickle or cascade down the rock’s sides. The resulting fountain combines a clean, formal shape with the natural color and feel of rock. A variation on the basalt-column fountain is the pond-less water feature. A drilled rock rests in a “pond” of river rock rather than one of water. The fountain of water, after cascading down the rock, disappears through the river rock into a reservoir from which the water is recirculated. The effect is one of mystery and pleasant simplicity. Many homeowners are now bringing the pleasure of moving water indoors, where they create everything from simple fountains

The clean, geometric forms of these pools add a mysteriously calming grace note to the organic shapes that surround them.

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Whether indoors or out, intimate or grand, the look and sound of water flowing over rock captivates and delights the imagination.

to elaborate cascades. Here, too, every look—from very formal to very natural—can be achieved. An indoor water feature also tends to provide an element of delight in the unexpected. A water feature might be beautiful and soothing during daylight hours; but it is at night that its charms truly come alive. With other noises muted at night, the sounds of the water expand and fill the darkness. Subtle lighting, either within or on the water and adjacent rocks, enables the eye to imagine an entire scene. It’s a lesson in how a little light and sound can go a very long way. Water features add a grace note to High Desert winter landscapes. Many homeowners now leave their pumps running through the snow and ice, creating a dramatic dark ribbon of flowing water through an otherwise frozen scene. And humans aren’t the only ones that appreciate the beauty: Birds and deer that winter in Central Oregon will use the stream as a water source. Water is always a source of delight in a dry climate, providing an echo of Eden in a beautiful, if otherwise, austere landscape. As its flow courses through boulders in a natural setting—or slides over concrete, metal or cut stone in a formal fountain—a water feature provides a simple gift of pleasure. H52

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RESOURCES Butch & Troy Landscaping: 541/385-0839 Cascade Gardens: 541/389-6440 Earth Designs: 541/420-0350 Green Planet: 541/318-8411 Little River Design: 541/536-1512 Nichols Landscaping: 541/382-5330 Parkview Design: 541/548-7942

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Steckler Landscaping & Construction: 541/318-6145

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Bend Living Magazine JULY/AUGUST 2006 - Reflections on Water  

Photography by SIMONE PADDOCK