Kya deLongchamps goes with the flow and finds a veritable stream of good ideas when it comes to adding a splash to your outdoor paradise.
FALLS of water in the garden have mesmerised for centuries. There’s the sound, proven to relax and unwind the mind, and the motion, which brings a static landscape to vivid shimmering life.
Creatively conducted noise can shroud traffic and interrupting sounds— in nature water doesn’t always boil off a bank.
It drops off wide, sharp edges, it winds and pools around pebbled bottoms, falls, coats and plays over surfaces and burbles out of the ground in alluvial springs.
Following the best of municipal installations, there’s a new flow in domestic water features that do not even require much water at all.
A stainless steel blade can produce a standalone water wall or work as part of the aeration of a traditional pond, lit with LED or halogen from behind or below.
Blades of 150mm and wider set in parallel groups can produce very wide waterfalls, or can be staggered in size and height to imitate water breaking through and over natural rock.
Levels and the correct choice of pump for the flow and volume of water are vital, and for comprehensive water features, especially where fish are present, the aqua-scaping must be perfect.
Prices from €120 for per 300mm water blade (budget as well for hoses and a reservoir, if you don’t have another water source).
Rock World have a good selection of blades, pumps and submersible lighting, www.rockworld.ie
In a single unit, a child-friendly, stainless steel water feature of 1.5m or more can be set alone or surrounded by planting and can be blessedly quiet.
This sheeting of water from a pump through a reservoir can be used in garden rooms and conservatories too, delivering a dramatic vertical thrust and a delicate panel of water icing the material it’s draped over.
It’s a superb, reflective flash of light by day or night for darker areas of the garden or patio. The Doha from www.waterfeatures.ie is a 123cm ready-to roll-version with variable flow and all lighting at €555.
www.Aquasystems.ie have some truly unusual walls, spheres and garden mirrors.
Water coating motion retains that ozone rich influence of water without the splash. Choose from ready-made orbs, over-flowing classical urns, spinning marbles and genteel tiered cascades in everything from reconstituted stone to terracotta.
Prices start in the €150 bracket for quality at your local garden centre. For something bespoke, the Valentia Slate Beehive Water Features are hand crafted in cherry slate from Co Kerry, from €549 (€640mm) www.rockworld.ie
What do you lose with a water unit over a pond? Well, it’s not exactly an ecosystem for wildlife, but you can stage water units close to traditional standing water or water course. Choose a self contained unit with an integrated water reservoir, pump, supplied cabling and halogen lighting, and it’s simply position, plug to a suitable RCD source and go (or flow).
Use placement, landscaping and planting to make these features appear as natural inclusions. Raise the status of the banal by adding colour to an existing wall or introduce stone or rendered block work for definition, Personal taste can dictate ornaments, water units, climbing plants and trellis etc, but remember the byword is less is more.
EXPLORE new colour schemes around your garden feature in annuals or wispy, waving perennials in muted colours, as seen at this year’s Chelsea Show. Set against dark grey walls, (Dulux Weathershield Wicklow Way is a good dark grey), for maximum impact.
Properly built block or stone walls can also be used as backing for a built-in seat comprised of anything from stone, sleepers, bricks or reclaimed decking boards. This introduces levels and is always enticing to the eye.
Consider some architectural ‘voids’ or a niche when building high walls — revealing a view or staging a sculpture. Vertical planters, shelving and suitable robust artwork (driftwood combines magically with simple flowering drifts) are cheap cheats to compose that eye grab.
Trawl Pinterest for the most crafty and economical ideas from unique water shaping to stone clad canals.
Vertical gardens are huge as indoor/outdoor features and you can equally take this idea to a sheltered wall. Living Walls, an inspirational Irish team of hydroponic specialists founded by the Milner brothers, can deliver artwork inside a frame for balconies and smaller gardens from €1,200, including herbs to harvest for the kitchen, www.livingwalls.ie
A cheap cheat is to Hilti-gun an old pallet to a wall, lining with moss or any other permeable layer, then fill with compost and grow strawberries, nasturtiums, herbs and spices — or a mix of edible and floral.
If you love flamingos, gnomes or resin bulldogs, don’t be ashamed to bring those creatures home to the garden. The more abstracted the subject, however, the potentially less tiresome it will be over time.
Over-sized pieces on a plinth can become a real part of the journey into the garden with surrounding planting adding a a magical element.
Seating in the area adds a pause, and a hanging seat pleases every generation. Classic Renaissance sculptures and fountains sit perfectly in contemporary or classic planting.
Most good garden centres offer a good selection and can advise you on an appropriate capacity pump if the piece is piped — and can aid in the aeration of a fish pond or just drop water prettily to a vessel.
Try larger Irish salvage yards for original wall fountains in cast iron brought in from the continent. I love the (new) limestone Lions Head Water Spout from www.architecturalsalvage.ie hand carved from just €140.
Concrete has enjoyed a huge revival, and any good garden centre will have Irish made pieces to choose from in a wide gallery of genres from €40 up.
Buddha seems to be the man of the hour, and even a large head, set atilt as if an uncovered antiquity, is a calming alternative to the austere Roman goddesses at the pond’s edge.
Easter Island heads and laughing Hoi Toi are having a curiously strong run this year. Prices from €150 for a small seated concrete deity, try www.statues.ie (free delivery over €300).
B&Q sell thick lengths of hollow bamboo if you want to try a DIY trickle system recalling an ancient water spout set on crutches fed and flowing into a carved bachi (stone basin).
Centurion Stones here in Cork have a beautiful selection of urns, sun-dials, troughs and figures in cast iron, stone and reconstituted materials from €200.
Their unique ancient Irish standing stones alone are worth the journey to Carrigrohane. Shy away from resin if the piece is likely to be touched — such a disappointment to the meditative wanderer.
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