Some years ago my Mom bought me beach towels for my birthday; this gift infuriated me.  “What am I supposed to do with these”, I asked her.  “That you don’t know what to do with them is why they are a gift from me.” ; she fired right back. She was right. I work, and work more.  But after she died, I took the money she left me, and built a fountain in my yard.  It has a ledge for sitting, and is deep enough to get in and soak. On hot days, I take my glass of wine, and my beach towels out there; it takes no time to shed the pressure of a work day.  My garden is designed to provide me privacy, relaxation and serenity, as my work-life is anything but serene and relaxing.   Every living thing needs water-and in many more ways than one.�
Water is sublimely satisfying in a garden, no matter what form it takes. A rain barrel, a pond with fish, a pot, a fountain or pool-take your pick. I think about water in the landscape routinely now.
This cistern was placed on a stand, so as to put the action of the water at a level high enough to be clearly see from the terrace.  Boxwood will soon eliminate the view of the stand, and become part of the fountain.�
Almost any pot can be converted into a fountain.  The water spilling over the edge of the pot is collected, and recirculated via an underground cistern.  The pot sits on a rigid Fiberglas grid which will be covered with large flat stones.
This lovely Doulton-Lambeth coadestone vase made in England in the 19th century has a waterproof metal liner.  The liner is home to a group of aquatic plants.  This arrangement eliminates the problem of soil and fertilizer getting into the fountain, and damaging the pump.
This client liked the idea of water, but not the reality.  A mulch of  tumbled sea glass the colors of water is a simple and effective substitute.
My fountain is framed in herniaria, a short perennial that is tolerant of the overspray a fountain can produce.  It also provides a buffer between the grass clippings from the mower, and the water.  The filtration system, identical to the type used in a swimming pool, keeps the water scrupulously clean.  The ledge below water is a great place to sit on a blisteringly hot day. Getting in all the way isn’t bad either.

A private body of water suitable for family swimming can double as an elegant reflecting pool for more formal entertaining. A light color on the interior will reflect light, and make the water appear blue. A pool with a dark interior will absorb light, and reflect the sky on its surface.
This very large ,sculptural waterfall is beautiful even when the water is still. The smallest pot spouting water has the same magical effect; don’t do without water in your garden.


airbeginEarth, air, fire and water; the mythology is long and varied.  My simple version: the sculpture,  which is the earth,  makes for life. No less important is air-every living thing breathes.
Air can be wind storms, or breezes. Air can be still and palpable; one remarkable things about fog is how still the air is. Air conditions influence the performance of a landscape as much as the earth.  Frost,  air laden with freezing water, sinks into low spots, and damages or kills plants. Air moving over water, off a lake, is intense air-whether we’re talking hot, cold, or strong.  Hot winds dry out  plants; cold winds make for winter burn.  Wind is a force to be reckoned with-do you need a windbreak first off-so you can garden in peace?

We had big winds and 80 degrees, today-in April, for pete’s sake.  We watered all day.  The lettuces in my spring pots had that windblown look-it was not a good look.  A straight line wind ripped the roof off my building a few years ago- in seconds. Wind makes very large buildings sway.  Windy weather affects everything in a landscape-plan on it.

I cannot figure out how to take a picture of wind-I could only photograph the debris it picks up, the petals it scatters, the rain it drives sidesways.   The unseen air  can make for airy-loose and beautiful. Good air circulation is an enemy of mildew, and a friend to root development in all plants. Airy is the texture of some trees, where you might want a view through to a far landscape element. A breeze makes for that motion that makes a meadow so beautiful.  Heavy foggy moody days soften the view and invite retrospection; a sharp crisp fall day is invigorating.  Air at great speeds can make for hell on earth.  I think this is a good description of nature- what you are least expecting,  happening on a regular basis.  Taking nature into account when you design, and when you plant,  will help you be successful.  I am interested in people being successful with their landscapes; who doesn’t enjoy what they apparently are good at?  Some success makes the inevitable failures easier to bear.  Sensational landscape design begins with an understanding and respect for the elements.  A plant you really like, that requires protection from winter winds, will prosper from the companionship of a windbreak.  Farmers plant windbreaks, maybe  you need beautiful enclosure.