by Myles Challis
Gardens are never static or shouldn’t be. There are always improvements to be made be it with the design or with the planting. As gardeners become more knowledgeable and experienced discovering new plants, changes are made, and the garden developed.
This is what retains the interest as the garden gains attractiveness and maturity year by year. The dull winter months are the perfect time to look at books or magazines to gain inspiration and ideas to enhance your plot.
One of the most dramatic ways you can do this is to introduce a water feature if you do not already have it. Water adds life, interest and most importantly beauty to the garden.
Depending on the size and style of it you can have anything from a gentle meandering stream to a spectacular cascade or waterfall. You will then not only have a visually exciting feature but it will enable you to introduce a range of new and interesting shrubs and trees, adding a new dimension to the planting.
Foliage plants especially like the “Giant Rhubarb” Gunnera Manicata and the “Skunk Cabbage” Lysichiton Americanum make dramatic features. On a smaller scale the decorative relation to the rhubarb plant “Chinese Rhubarb” Rheum Palmatum or the round scalloped edged leaves of Darmera Peltata are very handsome waterside plants.
Attractive flowers as well as foliage are to be had with both Ligularias and Rodgersias in variety along with the Arum Lily Zantedeschia Aethiopica and Hostas which are more generally associated with the border. To finish off a few drifts of bog Primulas would do the trick.
If you taste is for exotics then Dicksonia Antarctica Tree Ferns look stunning when planted by water and associate well with Bamboos both casting their reflections.
Finally probably the nicest of all waterside trees (though looking just as beautiful in a pot or the terrace) are the Japanese Acers – particularly the Dissectum Varieties like Acer Palmatum Dissectum or Acer Palmatum Dissectum Ornatum. Suitable in a wide choice of varieties differing in leaf shape and colour but all producing lovely autumn colour.