Animals, Garden Design, Jorge, Water Features

john-constable-water-feature

With the psychological benefits associated with water, it is no wonder water features are an integral part of garden design. Since at least the eighteenth century, doctors have prescribed trips to the seaside to improve their patients’ well-being. Britain’s love affair with water stretches all the way to Aquae Sulis, located in what is today Bath; there both Briton and Roman alike would seek relaxation in its natural hot springs.

Access to water is known to both alleviate stress and promote serenity. For example, psychologists from the ‘Blue Gym’ project found that people have preference for images with water than those with none. Interestingly, the same project found that images with both blue and green garnered the most favourable response (an interesting tip for those designing their garden).

So why is this the case? Why do humans love blue and green? It is probable that our love for water is hard-coded in our genes to ensure our survival. It is a hangover from when humans were hunters and gatherers, when the colours of blue and green signalled a resource rich environment that was conducive to your long term survival. To our savannah-dwellings ancestors, habitat selection was of paramount importance, and lush grasslands and clumps of trees provided evidence of abundant wildlife and a good supply of water.

john-constable-river

It is not incidental that rivers, lakes and seas are blue, and plant life green. Only a combination of both could ensure survival and a view of both signalled the jackpot. It is from this that humans have developed a sense of pleasure when we witness such a view. While now such a view is not necessary for survival, the genetic heritage remains as evolution takes place over extremely long periods, far beyond the 20,000 odd years humans have been living in permanent settlements.

Humans’ preferences for certain habitats have been confirmed in a number of surveys. In one, people from around the world were all shown standardised photos of five landscapes – deciduous forest, tropical forest, open savannah with trees, coniferous forest, and desert – and no category stood out, except that of the desert, which had a slightly negative response. (It is, unsurprisingly, an environment that is both hostile to human life and resource scarce.) When the experiment was extended to young children, they expressed a marked preference for the savannah (where early human evolution took place) as well as landscapes with water, trees, game animals, and cloud patterns among others, which offer opportunities for both food and water.

savannah-environmental-preferences

In another survey, a professional polling organisation conducted a poll of art preferences in ten countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, and found that blue was the most popular colour, followed by green. And again, there was a marked preference for water, plants, and large animals, both wild and domestic, among others.

Indeed, it is likely that such colours also provide animals a rudimentary pleasure as such environments sustain the majority of life on earth, provided they in fact see in colour. Indeed, animals with comparatively low sentience may find it hard to enjoy anything else.

roman-aqueduct
The Pont du Gard, the most famous Roman aqueduct in existence – it was modified in the 1740s to carry a wide road.  Emanuele  (2007)  licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Now, when do man-made water features pop up in human history? Famously, the Romans built a system of aqueducts to supply the city of Rome with water, which was necessary to feed the expanding metropolis. These aqueducts utilised gravity to transport water from the surrounding hills, which was then stored in large cisterns. From these cisterns, the water would then travel through pipes to public distribution points and individual’s houses where there might be fountains. To power these fountains, the Romans again utilised gravity, as because a foot of height generates 0.43 pounds per square inch of water pressure, even a small cistern could power a fountain. As a sidenote, the Romans were not the first to use gravity to power fountains as even such primitive societies such as the Maya did so.

The power of gravity could be utilised in other ways to power fountains. Jumping forward to the 18th century, King Louis XIV’s fountain complex at Versailles was powered by the river Seine. It utilised an convoluted system of 14 huge water wheels to power pistons for over 200 water pumps. The water was transferred through a system of reservoirs up the hill into an aqueduct, which then distributed the water to the various fountains on the grounds. In the intervening years between the romans and Versailles, fountains would find their greatest popularity in the Islamic world (in the famous paradise gardens), and later renaissance Italy. It was in these two golden ages that saw the emergence of such artists and engineers that could enable their construction. The surviving examples from these periods are still highly popular today.

renaissance-water-fountain
The Fontana Masini in the Piazza del Popolo in Cesena, completed in 1591. It was designed by Cesena Francesco Masini and built by the stonemason Montevecchio Domenico and his assistants.

Other more complicated methods of pumping water emerged in time such as hydraulic rams and steam engines. The former is not too dissimilar to the water wheel in that it requires no power other than the kinetic energy of flowing water. The device, in effect, takes in water at one height, and outputs water at another higher height. It was invented in 1796 by Joseph Michel Montgolfier, who is otherwise famous as one of the inventors of the hot air balloon. The steam pump, and its successor the electric pump, would prove revolutionary and greatly increase the power of fountains, enabling such fountains as the King Fahd’s Fountain that produces the largest water jets on earth, possibly surpassing a 1,000 feet.

largest-fountain-on-earth
King Fahd’s Fountain, located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Now, returning to the original question, a water feature is likely to signal a plentiful supply of water, and allow one to feel relaxed, and at home. Even better, the sound of running water will allow such relaxation when in earshot. Then, once placed in the greenery of the garden, it provides the perfect environment for a human to relax. Now thanks to advances in technology, you can use solar energy to power your feature, allowing one to both save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

See all of Jorge’s posts.

Decoration, Garden Design, Garden Furniture, Gardening, How To, Water Features, Zoe

It can be difficult to make the most of your space in a small garden without the effect feeling claustrophobic. There are a number of reasons your garden may feel small:
• High imposing walls or fences surrounding your garden
• Lack of natural light making the space feel dark and small
• No interesting colour incorporation to brighten the area
• Oversized garden furniture that overpowers the area
• Abundance of overgrown greenery
• Or simply a very small space to work with

This guide can help you with some space saving and trendy ideas that will help transform your small garden into a light and relaxing place to be, that still offers plenty of opportunity to test your gardening skills.

Mirrors

The use of mirrors in a small garden can really help to create a sense of space as the light reflects off the glass and into the outdoor area. There are many options to suit your individual style, whether it is a country garden or modern social space.
One way to incorporate mirrors is to have two identical mirrors facing each other; this will create the feel of an infinite garden and prov
ide a great opportunity to make the most of natural lighting.

 

Alternatively, you can use an ornate garden window mirror that adds character and charm. If you’re feeling crafty you could create this yourself with recycled window shutters!
The use of mini mirrors can incorporate light into the garden in a more subtle way, whilst creating a unique texture. The combination of outside fairy lights trailing along your mirrors can also create a lovely atmosphere in the evening.

If you want to learn more about the safety aspects of garden mirrors check out our previous blog post!

 

 

Stainless Steel Planters

If you’re not keen on using mirrors, stainless steel planters offer an excellent alternative. These will help to make the surrounding space seem bigger, and do not pose the same risks as mirrors do outside.
Try creating some depth in your small garden by adding plants of different heights in your planters, this will create a layered effect and also make the space appear larger.

Water

A water feature can be a great way to add some personality to your garden, and is a great tool to carry through a theme in your garden whether it is a classic country style, oriental theme or an ultra-modern layout.

However, the fantastic thing about water features in small gardens is the opportunity to incorporate light into a space, similarly to mirrors and stainless steel. The water from the feature will reflect the sky, and is a more natural way to reflect light into your garden. One bonus of this is that this may encourage wildlife too!

Trees

In a small garden the addition of trees can create the illusion of space. You can cleverly train certain trees to grow in a particular direction to help cover an ugly wall, and make the space seem less imposing. This may require a bit of patience in order to achieve the desired results however!

Vertical Planting

There are many other little ways you can make the most of your secluded spots through the use of vertical planting. This can be
achieved through Trellis’ and climbing plants, which will grow upwards and help hide walls.

However, for an easier option you could purchase a wall mounted planter that can attach easily to a wall and still optimise vertical space.

Screening

If you have dark walls or fencing surrounding your garden, this may be another reason the space feels so small. Sometimes the colours can have the effect of feeling gloomy or oppressive, but one easy way to brighten your garden is the addition of some screening.

This is easy to put up, and can also cover any broken brickwork or blemishes. There are a range of materials and colours to choose from, but a natural style bamboo screening could really help to boost the feeling of space by brightening the whole area and adding some personality.

Storage Solutions

If you’re short of space in your garden but still want to have a chill out area there are a range of storage solutions that can help you do that.
Seating with storage space built in is one particularly clever way to create more space in your garden as it is not visible. This gives you the option to have an area to relax but also be able to store away things such as blankets, cushions etc. when they are not needed!

You could also use coffee tables with storage built in as an alternative to bulky sheds and storage boxes, this would be a great addition to a social space so your guests can relax with a couple of drinks after you’ve stored away some of your garden necessities!

Hopefully this guide has inspired you to make the most of the space you have, and if you want to explore design tips for lighting your small garden be sure to read our advice on this too!

Zoe at PrimroseZoë works in the Marketing team at Primrose, and is passionate about all things social media.

After travelling across Europe and Asia, Zoë is intrigued by different cultures and learning more about the world around her. If she’s not jet setting, Zoë loves nothing more than curling up with a good book and a large glass of red wine!

She is an amateur gardener but keen to learn more and get stuck in!

See all of Zoë’s posts.

Callum, Primrose Gardens, Water Features

Your favourite time of the week has arrived! We have loved seeing all of  your creations and hope to see many more. Remember you get a £5 voucher if you join and upload some photos! This week we are looking at all the wonderful water features you guys have shared with us on Primrose Gardens.  With so many designs about these days, it would be rude not share the best of these creative innovations.

A lovely metallic hanging fountain courtesy of God's own garden
A lovely metallic hanging fountain courtesy of God’s own garden
A delicate 4-tier cascading water feature seen here in The Bailey's garden
A delicate 4-tier cascading water feature seen here in The Bailey’s garden
An alluring 5-tier cascading water feature courtesy of Magical imaging's garden
An alluring 5-tier cascading water feature courtesy of Magical imaging’s garden
A beautiful natural and rocky 4-tier cascading water feature seen in Waterland's garden
A beautiful, natural and rocky 4-tier cascading water feature seen in Waterland’s garden
We finish up with a quite stunning cascading blade water feature seen here in Blaythorne's House
We finish up with a quite stunning cascading blade water feature seen here in Blaythorne’s House

Primrose Gardens allows you to create a beautiful pictorial record of your garden where you can show off your garden to family and friends to enjoy over the years. It’s also a community of garden enthusiasts and the perfect space to discuss tips and tricks, as well as getting plants identified!

Callum is currently on his placement year here at Primrose with his parents being huge garden enthusiasts.Callum

In the time he has free from his parents rambling on about the garden, he is being a typical university student experiencing life to the full and supporting his beloved Reading FC.

See all of Callum’s posts.

Charlie, Decoration, Gardening, How To, Make over, Ponds, Water Features

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Spring is upon us, and with the rising temperatures it’s time for your garden to come alive. With plants budding and trees spreading their leaves, what better time to add to the beauty and vibrancy of your garden by building a pond? A pond is a great opportunity to attract more wildlife to your garden and the gentle light, movement and sound it generates can create an oasis of tranquility in an otherwise busy world.

But setting up a pond can be a daunting task, so here is a helpful guide to guide you through setting up your own pond:

1) What is the purpose of your pond?

Do you just want to keep plants in your pond, or do you want to stock it with fish as well? If you would like to stock fish you should ensure your pond has a depth of at least 3ft or 90cm for larger fish such as koi – or 45cm for smaller fish like goldfish.


2) Choose the site carefully.

The first thing you should do is choose the right location – this is of critical importance in creating that perfect atmosphere in your garden. Choose a site that gets a lot of sunlight, your pond plants will thank you later. If possible, also try to avoid an area with lots of overhanging deciduous trees, as the leaves falling in autumn will leave you with a big job clearing them from the surface of the pond. If this is unavoidable, however, you could always invest in some pond netting to make this job far easier and prevent falling leaves from polluting your pond. While it can be great to have the pond as a centrepiece, to be good to frogs and other amphibious future denizens of your pond, it is advisable to have the shallow side of your pond up against, or near some cover. And of course, make sure the area you want for your pond is excavatable, and does not have any pipes or concrete running through it.

3) Installing a pond with a rigid liner.

Stand the liner in the position you have decided upon and then mark the ground around with something. (Spray Paint is best for this, but sand or rope can work as well too.) Then mark again about 30 cm out from this, you’ll want to excavate an area larger than the pond itself if you want the plastic mould to fit. Dig the whole area out to the level of the shallowest part of your pond, plus a couple of extra inches. Then you’ll need to mark out the next shallowest areas of your pond, and dig again. Repeat until you have the correct space for your mold, it is good while doing to to ensure each “step” of your pond is level using a plank of wood and a spirit level.

At this point you might want to remove and protruding sticks or stones and fill in a layer of sand or pond underlay to stop any stones scratching your preformed pond ensuring it last as long as possible.
Once the excavation is complete and you have your underlay, stand the rigid liner upon it and slowly add water to the pond from a hosepipe, while filling in any gaps between the edge of the pond with soil or sand.

3) Installing a pond with flexible liner.

Once again you’ll want to start by measuring out the area you want your pond to fill. Again you can do this with a rope or spray paint. To find out how much pond liner you’ll need for your pond, you can use the following formula:-

Length = max length + (2 x max depth) + 1 (for overlap)
Width= max width + (2 x max depth) + 1 (for overlap)

So for a pond with a width of 3m, a length of 10m and a depth of 1m, you’ll need 13m x 6m Pond Liner.

Using a flexible liner gives you a lot more freedom as to how you want to shape your pond, but it is still best to ensure that the shelves or steps of your pond are level and to have a gradient down from each step that is steep but not vertical, using the same technique as above for each level of your pond.

Once you have dug out the area you want your pond to fill, and layered it with sand or pond underlay, it’s time to actually install your pond liner. Preferably on a warm day, lay it down over the area you have excavated. Weigh down the edges with stones and slowly fill the area with water – tugging at the edges to prevent creasing. Once it is filled to about 2-3 inches from the rim of the pond, leave for 24 hours to let the pond settle. Then trim the excess liner around the edge to around 6in from the rim.

4) Edging your pond.

Whether you’ve gone for a flexible or rigid liner, the next step is to create your edging. What kind of edging you want for your pond depends upon the type of pond you want to create, rough stones and boulders for that rustic feel, or paving slabs and cement for a more formal look. What’s essential is that you cover up those unsightly edges of pond liner, and ensure your liner is held firmly in place. If people are going to be routinely walking around the edges of your pond, mortaring it securely in places may be required.

ponds


And there you have it, a pond in your garden. Of course, it’s little more than an oversized paddling pool at the moment, without any pond plants or fish. Next week we’ll show you how to make your pond come to life. Stay tuned!

 

 

Don’t forget, here at Primrose we have a variety of products to help you realise the pond of your dreams:

Pond Liner

Thick and sturdy, here at Primrose only sell quality Pond Liner, with a guarantee of 10 years so that you can rest easy beside your garden oasis. We also sell underliner and joining tape, so you’ll have everything you need.

Preformed Ponds

Primrose also supply a large range of preformed ponds. This can be a slightly easier option as you won’t have to measure out all that pond liner and underlay. Our preformed ponds come with multi-layering, so you can have different depths for your pond – important as different aquatic plants thrive at various depths. A great way to get your pond life started!

Decorative Pebbles and Aggregates

Perfect to help create the finish touches to your pond, especially the edging.

Water Features for your Pond

From floating lily fountains to blade cascades, the sound of running water can really add something to your pond or watercourse.

Pond Lighting

Make your pond come alive – even at night!

Pond in a Pot

One of the innovations we’re most proud of here at Primrose is the Pond in a Pot. Perfect if you don’t have the space or the time to set up a regular pond, our Pond in a Pot kits come with everything you need to set up a pond in your garden, or even your balcony or patio.

 

A Pond in a Pot, from Primrose.
A Pond in a Pot, from Primrose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CharlieCharlie works in the Primrose marketing team, mainly on online marketing.

When not writing for the Primrose Blog, Charlie likes nothing more than a good book and a cool cider.

To see the rest of Charlie’s posts, click here.

 

 

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