We’re surrounded by water. In the atmosphere and in our bodies, this essential element brings life through texture, sound and motion. It also brings a unique dimension to outdoor living: nothing relieves tension and says exhale, take a load off, chill out, like a splashing fountain or calm pool reflecting the setting sun.
The shape of water gardens is as fluid as the element they channel. Rivulets of water chuckle out of multi-tiered basins into a common pool where koi sketch an ever-shifting abstract painting in spatters of red, black and white. A slab of stone forms a bridge between two lily ponds. A stream in miniature slaloms between rocks, dappled by swaying shadows of leaves.
“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”
— Loran Eisely, The Immense Journey, 1957
“It’s alive; it’s constantly moving and changing,” says LaLana Moore, owner of Scenic Landscapes Water Garden Nursery. “Whether it’s the waterfall itself or the fish that are swimming through it, or the blooming that goes on with the plants.” Scenic Landscapes specializes in unusual aquatic plants and fish, from aquatic orchids, pitcher plants like Venus Flytraps and tropical night-blooming lilies to Japanese koi, orandas goldfish and tadpoles.
DIY Water Gardens
Moore and her husband, Mark, have designed and installed water gardens for 21 years, and they also teach weekly workshops for those who want to create and maintain their own aquatic oasis. Scenic Landscapes teaches eco-friendly maintenance techniques like using beneficial bacteria and naturally filtering plants instead of chemicals.
Having your own water garden might be easier than you think. All you need is a 3’ x 3’ space with the right mix of shade and sun, and the ability to dig a 3’ deep reservoir. “You can do water gardens in really tiny, tiny spaces,” says Moore.