Eastern religions and modern lifestyles have seen the resurrection of ponds to foster serenity and tranquillity.
A still water feature sooths the mind and offers a place for reflection, both physically and emotionally.
A pond can be created from a simple pot filled with water, to an elaborate ecosystem requiring the skills of a professional landscaper and ecologist.
Acreage residents have the capacity to construct dam-like proportions that in time become intrinsic components to the district’s wildlife. The large pond surface reflects the sky and surrounding landscape thereby accentuating the scale of the property. Given such a scale the ponds are best complemented with large weeping trees such as weeping willows.
Small yards need pond features in proportion to the space. For example, a balcony may use a water pot whereas a back garden may wish to make a 2 m long water feature.
In Japanese style gardens a small yard may be suited to a shallow large pond surrounded by low growing ground covers such as mondo grass (Ophiopogon), Liriope and dwarf bamboo (Poganatherum panaceum). A few small trees or large shrubs can be carefully pruned to create a classic trace of canopy. To finish off the design large rocks or a Japanese jukimi-style lantern can be included. Of importance to a Japanese style garden is that the pond is usually an irregular shape, mimicking a natural look.
An important feature of any pond is its position.
Small ornamental water ponds should never be subjected to full sun all day. In summer the heat can result in both fish and plants dying, plus proliferation of algae resulting in an unattractive green pond. Small ponds are best placed in locations that receive the morning sun and dappled sun for the rest of the day.
If growing water lilies, then most of these require full sun to achieve reliable flowers.
Places like Roma Street Parklands are an excellent location to see a range of water plants that are ideally suited to full sun pond culture.
Ideally water plants should not be allowed to cover the entire pond as this impedes the pleasure of an open expanse of water reflecting surrounding trees, buildings, clouds and sky.
Popular with landscape designers is the placement of small ponds at entry points near garden pathways. These are either shallow water bowls with floating frangipani or hibiscus flowers, or deep pots with fish and sacred water lotus (Nelumbo nucifera).
The cooling effect of these ponds is significant in our climate.
The symbolism of water can also be linked to religious beliefs… anointing yourself with the water as you pass into the garden, much like the anointing when entering a place of worship.
Written by Paul Plant, freelance landscape writer