Just Add Water: Create Calm

Annapolitans know that being near the water is a good thing. The element of water in a garden provides a vital connection to nature and to the rhythms of the earth. Having a reminder of these forces in your daily routine is nurturing. The sight and sound of water soothe the soul. The introduction of a water feature in the home or garden helps to enhance the sense of refuge and sanctuary so important to today's frenetic lifestyle.

A water element in the garden brings to mind images of a woodland idyll, a place far removed from the stresses of every day reality. These images will be different for each individual. Be it an image of a waterfall, a trout stream, or a still pond, the image of water brings a sense of peace and tranquility and provides an opportunity to go inward, to become reflective.

The Chinese associate the element of water with the winter season, when water goes into the earth to feed the roots of the plant kingdom in preparation for spring. This is also a quiet time where life is less active and people become more inward. The summer is associated with the element of fire. The sun is high in the sky, the days are warm and long, and the crops are growing in full abandon. It is no wonder that water, which is both cooling and reflective, is such a welcome counterpoint in the summer garden. The "yin" element of water balances the "yang" fire elements of day to day activity, including the relentless moving around from place to place and all of the time spent in the high tech world of communications, all fueled by electrical fire.

Water has been a feature of gardens throughout the ages. In arid climates where each drop of water is a treasured commodity, water is often the central organizing element of the design. Water is a key element of Oriental gardens. It is frequently implied by the form and texture of the plant material even when actual water is not present. The Japanese use a dry stream bed to suggest the flow of water. The flow of water and plants of an Oriental garden are offset by the permanence of stone, representing the element of earth. Stone elements are used as the base of a waterfall, at the edge of a pond, or in the form of lanterns or other ornament.

The introduction of water in the landscape can ease the intensity of a hot, dry day and calm the spirit. It doesn't have to be elaborate to be effective. A simple bubbler in a ceramic bowl provides movement, the sound of water, and the reflection of light. The addition of a water element can be as simple as installing a birdbath, where the visiting birds themselves will provide the energy to move the water. There are many water features currently available-wall, table, and garden varieties-that are simply plugged into a nearby electrical outlet.

Naturalistic water features include streams and pools, fish and lily ponds. Many people enjoy the opportunity to watch the movement of fish and frogs, as well as the increased bird activity associated with ponds. These elements will add interest but will also increase maintenance requirements. In a more formal garden setting, elaborate fountains of cast iron, granite, limestone or other materials are appropriate.

According to Kathleen Litchfield, president of Petro Design Build, Inc., the trick to adding a water feature to your garden is to create the right setting for it. Will it be the focus of your garden or will it be a subtle accent? Will it need a backdrop? What size is it? Will it define an entire space or garden room? Does it move the eye from one point to another? Where does it begin and end? How does it work into the entire scheme of things? How much maintenance can you afford? Working with a qualified landscape designer can help you articulate your desires and help you develop a water feature which works with your site budget

Stratton Semmes, landscape architect, seeks the sacred in the mundane, and she kayaks whenever possible.


What event in the Annapolis area are you most looking forward to in 2006?

Powerboat Show
Sailboat Show
Renaissance Festival
Seafood Festival
County Fair

Additional comments ?

Last time we asked, "How many past issues of Inside Annapolis Magazine do you have? " Out of all the responses, we found that most of our readers keep at least 3 issues of Inside Annapolis Magazine around the house, but a couple of our readers have over several years of issues! We're glad to hear that so many of you stay with us!

Thanks to all those that voted!

Results Posted Every Issue!!

Backyard Publications, LLC. ©2004. 433 Fourth St, Annapolis, MD 21403 - Phone 410-263-6300 - Fax 410-267-8668