Attending Glee, the leading garden and leisure industry show, was a great opportunity for Nathan Dodd to spot trends and anticipate products that will come onto the market in the near future.
If you thought the Duke of Devonshire's garden was somewhat difficult to replicate, you'd probably be correct. However, modestly sized and priced water features are extremely popular and Dan Everton finds out why.
The water features at Chatsworth do seem to be a little excessive when you're standing in front of the huge water cascade that flows over 24 steps and drops 200 feet.
But there's no need to be intimidated by these remarkable sights, that also include the 290ft high Emperor Fountain. It's possible for everyone to have a distinctive water feature in their garden, but perhaps on a smaller scale.
There's little doubt that the sight and sound of flowing water brings another dimension to a garden. Whether forming part of contemporary statuary or in the shape of a classical fountain, light glinting on shimmering water has an attraction all of its own.
Water features can be stunning focal points or discreet ornamentation. They add animation to a garden, kindling interest in areas that have previously lacked a spark and introducing sound that is as distinguished as bird song.
Take something as simple as a pond. A few frogs may call it home but otherwise it could be lacking in what might be called the 'wow' factor. Add a cascade or fountain and you introduce vitality. The still water flows and the static surface ripples in the sunlight, the pond has taken on a completely new character.
Flowing water combined with contemporary and classical statuary is a winning combination especially if surrounded by a large expanse of lawn. It will be an oasis in the centre of an area that is essentially, except perhaps for some military straight stripes, barren of interest.
Water features that act as focal points can take various forms, such as a waterfall, fountain, bird bath, wishing well or sculpture and these may be ornate, plain, discreet or flamboyant. So the choice that's available is naturally huge especially when you consider they might be made from a range of materials.
A fountain is probably the most recognisable and traditional water feature. With one tier or with water flowing over multiple levels, fountains can be as decorative or as simple as you prefer. Some resemble ones that Louis XIV might have commissioned for Versailles, others that Tracey Emin could have in Margate.
From something so familiar as a fountain, the term 'water feature' can encompass many different designs. Cast limestone and resin is extensively used to create classical or modern artefacts, whether to replicate the original materials or craft contemporary water features in their own right.
There's a multitude of resin animals with water gushing from their mouths and trunks but classical water features might have dolphins or lion heads spouting water over ornately decorated dishes. Contemporary items can be impressive examples of fashionable sculptural art and modern design.
If you hanker after an oriental themed garden, you'll probably already know that water is a vital ingredient. It has a calming effect in serene surroundings. Typically oriental icons in the shape of a buddha or pagoda can be employed, while other water features have representations of bamboo or are just attractive sculptures.
Many water features also take advantage of white or coloured light that can be mains, battery or solar powered to accentuate their attributes.
Rock formations with cascading water are extremely realistic reproductions of the real thing and then there are pots, bowls, troughs and urns, all using water and light to fashion purely artistic ornamentation. Other pieces featuring chrome, granite and similar materials can also look fabulous when illuminated.
One effect that seems to be ever present at the Chesea Flower Show is the wall of water. Sheets of water create a curtain in front of a solid piece of stone or shining stainless steel. The water's shimmering appearance is even more pronounced with the use of light.
Whatever size or style garden you have, there has to be a place for a water feature, whether a modern creation or from another era. Their energy enriches the landscape in ways that no other embellishment can achieve.
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