What is a Water Garden?
The concept of a garden based around an artificial pond of water is as ancient as the first dreams of paradise on earth. Gardening in and of itself is the art of growing plants and the crafting of a beautiful environment, inspired by nature. The cultivation of aquatic life and vegetation in an imaginative and artistic way is the passion that drives the water garden enthusiast to sculpt dead landscapes and old tubs into thriving works of living art.
Aaron is building a backyard water garden, he will also be documenting his steps and writing about them so you can easily follow his lead in building your own enchanted water garden.
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The use of water in the garden can be seen in early tomb paintings from around 3000 BC in Egypt, with rectangular fishponds surrounded by luscious fruit trees on either side. The Romans, Persians, Muslims, Indians, Chinese, Koreans and Japanese are but a few cultures that have used water gardens in historical grandeur. In the west during medieval times, to Renaissance, Baroque, Romanesque until today, the water garden has flourished as the foundation for the dream of paradise on earth.
Not just “around” a pond of water, but “of” a pond of water, that’s what makes the water garden so aesthetically pleasing to the human eye. When thinking about building a water garden the first most important question to ask is: Why am I building this? This may seem odd, but the answer to this question will determine everything about the water garden. The purpose or intention behind the garden; is what determines choice of size, location, plants, fish and/or other aquatic forms of life, and architecture.
Size is always an issue with water gardens, as they never seem to be big enough. The reason for this is that when dealing within the confines of a given aquatic area (the tub or pond), no real expansion can occur without remodeling the original project, and like most garden enthusiasts; those dealing in aquatics get so happy about their first results, that they just want to keep putting more and more elements into this work of living art.
“Where it goes” and “what goes into it” are just as subjective as “why”, since no two water gardens are the same. But usually common ones nowadays use either koi or goldfish (that consume oxygen and are producers of CO2) and anacharis (a kind of waterweed, that consumes CO2 and produces oxygen) as the basic elements of sustainable water gardens. Imagination, research, passion and well planned resources are the real tools to building ones own water garden however and, while planning will determine structure, size, location and aesthetics, the water garden’s final purpose must always be kept clear if it is to be accomplished successfully.
Architecture is the key to an aesthetic water garden. Obviously, koi fish get too big for a fruit bowl or goldfish aquarium; however would be a wonderful addition to a properly sized Japanese water garden, since the point here is not size, the point here is style. Bigger is not necessarily better, in water gardening, taste is. The simple concept of beauty and art are what culminate in the ideal water garden. Beauty is to each and everyone, their own personal concept however and could not fit into the last 2,500 years of western philosophy, much less this article, thus an excellent definition of how water gardens become personal expressions of the gardener themselves.
The water garden brings hope and life when there is nothing but desert, and reminds us of the simple perfection nature has developed when there are only skyscrapers and subways as far as the eye can see. In the oasis, the water garden that flourishes as nothing else for miles upon miles in an ocean of fire and sand is more than a spiritual blessing, to the common traveler, it is survival. While in the towering glass and steel apartments of the urban metropolis, an indoor water garden no larger than a fruit bowl, brings green memories of a place, as yet untouched by the vile pollutant tentacles of humankinds so called progress; rekindling the faint aura of hope, that one day, a better world is possible.