Thursday, January 20, 2011

What Water Does

            We live in a water garden. Water falls from the sky, it runs in rivulets and streams through the low places, it settles in hollows as pools or ponds.  The land we cultivate is really an island.  Giving water its rightful place in our garden design can manifest in many ways.  The way we contour the land we cultivate mirrors the work that water has done to the larger landscape.  Imbuing our landscape with the markings of water: ravines, worn boulders, and wetlands brings our garden into harmony with what already exists on a geological scale.  If we desire it to, it breaks down the barrier between us and the forces of nature, making our garden seem less of a fortress and more of an Eden.
            Every garden site is challenged with conditions that are favorable to some plants and unfavorable to others.  The abundance or scarcity of water is often the most challenging of these conditions.  Fighting our water-reality can exhaust our enthusiasm as well as our budget.  If we turn to Nature for advice, we see that each environment, wet or dry, offers possibilities that, if collaborated with, will produce a beautiful landscape.
            Because garden design is inherently a matter of human creativity exerting itself on Nature (or is it the other way around?), we do get to make choices that manipulate the plot of land we are given to cultivate.  Each person’s efforts towards their dream garden may include an impossible task within the conditions of their site. Here is where brilliant collaborations with Nature are born.

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