{eastern garden design - part two: water}

With the experience of drought as a child still vividly etched on my memory, I have a great respect for and appreciation of water. Whilst some may simply see it as the clear liquid that flows out of the tap, I see it as a precious resource, each drop collected and used thoughtfully. We never had much of it growing up on the farm. I was always jealous of the 'town kids' who didn't have to think twice about turning on the tap to run a bath or run through the sprinkler on a hot day. Many years have passed since then but I'm still extraordinarily cautious with its use. So stepping into the gardens I was instantly drawn to the water in all its forms.

Dramatic effect - Cascading water
Serene and peaceful - still water in main lake

Water in the gardens is used various ways for various effects, from the still water in the main lake, the trickling streams gently meandering through the garden, to the powerful cascading waterfalls emptying back into the lake. The element of water is used in the design of Chinese gardens to 'soften' the hard forms of rock whilst creating a cool and serene atmosphere. The sound of water is also very relaxing, aiding in the visitors quest for quiet contemplation and meditation. Whilst most suburban blocks, terrace courtyards or balconies don't allow for the vast expanse of water used here in the Chinese Gardens, a small water feature can be incorporated into most spaces. Not only will you be albe to enjoy their asthetic appeal and therapeutic benefits, but you have a good chance of also encouraging fauna into your garden ~ a small pond will create a wonderful habitat for frogs and encourage insect eating lizards or a bird bath will be very much welcomed by local birds looking for relief on a hot day to drink or bathe.

I'm slowly learning not to be afraid of using water. My own garden plans incorporate both bird baths and a frog pond. Used thoughtfully and responsibly the benefits of its use will far outweigh the guilt I might have of  'non-essential' use, or if I do ever feel guilty at least I will be able to retreat into my cool and serene garden to relax about it!!

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