Wild Pond Design
The photo shows the pond and meadow in the first growing season, the meadow is still germinating and developing… I will add further photos this next season 2018 as it matures.
The Site & Brief
I was asked to work in the upper area of this long, thin and sloping garden in Bladon. The site had fantastic views across the fields, various wildlife, and also many mature trees that added a lot of presence to the space but had to be worked around. During the first meeting the client stated that she had been considering having a pond for some years. She also said that she was very interested in wildlife and wild spaces. I walked around the, surveying, photographing, selecting important views and getting a feel for space.
01 – View looking up the garden towards the view across the fields…
02 – Looking down the garden at the house… 03 – This stunted hazel seemed to be blocking the space. 04 – The formal garden towards the end of the season
05 – A deer photographed during the digging of the pond…
The Design Proposal
Having considered the site, and done some sketching, I decided that a pond would create a great centre point to this new garden, and if lower down in the space, it would be possible to see the sky reflected in the body of water. So I worked on the specific design of that form and its position.
Wild Pond Shape – Something to be said about a wild pond shape is most of the time my main goal is to create a large reflective surface. I find an ellipse seems to work a lot of the time, because obviously when you look at an object in perspective it appears crushed so unless it has a has a large surface area, by the time you are walking up to it on the ground your not going to see much of a reflection. Also an ellipse is a lot less formal than a clean circle which feels better for a wild space. This site only had one view of the full sky, so orientating an ellipse to the view seemed a good way to start.
A Wildflower Meadow – I felt like a wildflower meadow surrounding the wild pond would work well, partly because the clients had expressed a love of wildlife, partly because the client already had a formal garden around the house, and finally I feel there is a real beauty to a view made up of very simple elements, like a field of wheat and the sky. I thought it would be lovely to see an entire space filled with meadow, and then a single body of water reflecting the sky.
One thing to consider when creating a wild flower meadow is that as the flowers decay from mid summer onwards the meadow can look dry and some people find this ‘messy’ looking as the meadow dries back. I personally feel the dead heads of the flowers, the dry umbels of wild carrot and the remaining grasses have their own beauty and I really like meadows at this time late summer/autumn time of year, but its important to not as a commercial designer that a wild space might not deliver enough year round interest to satisfy a client if for instance we implemented one directly around a house, and it might feel too loose for some people’s taste. So a seperate space in a garden like this, which connects to the open landscape like this is perfect for it.
Next I needed to decide how to access the pond and move through the space. I like a very informal pathway through a meadow, and a mown turf path does this very well, as it can be designed to be elegant, so it sweeps through a space, and it can be laid in turves, so it is easy to maintain from the beginning which is important because a meadow takes so long to grow, often developing in the second full season, so during this time, it is good to have a space which the client can walk through so they can watch the meadow as it grows without walking on the delicate juvenile plants. I wanted access to the pond from both sides because, the lower side when reached first from the house, would reveal the reflection, but the higher side felt like a nicer space to sit and have a tea, so I introduced a curved turf path that snaked through the space (hopefully elegantly) and met the pond on both side, offering two flexible spaces for chairs or tables, or a picnic blanket.