Wonderful water gardens
Water gardens, also known as aquatic gardens, are defined by water features and elaborate displays of aquatic plants. Europe has some of the world’s most spectacular water gardens, many of which have been the backdrop for well-known art and film pieces. Here, we take a peek at the top five water gardens across Europe.
Best of the Best
1. Antrim Castle Gardens – The water gardens at Antrim Castle in Northern Ireland are one of the earliest of their kind that remain in the British Isles. The 17th century gardens contain an beautiful parterre, canal, round pond, and paths which take you through the demesne and remains of Antrim Castle. Antrim received a £6m restoration donation from Heritage Lottery Fund, in order to preserve the gardens and historic site for years to come.
2. Villa d’Este – These gardens are in Tivoli – near Rome, Italy. The renaissance gardens, dating back to the 16th century, are included in the UNESCO world heritage list. Known for its terraced hillside backdrop, Villa d’Este features exquisite gardens and fountains, such as the Fountain of Neptune below the Fountain of the Organ, the Rometta Fountain and the Oval Fountain.
3. Westbury Court – Set in Gloucestershire, England, the beautiful Dutch-style water garden is the only one of its kind to be restored. The gardens were first laid out in 1696 and 1705, with a 449ft canal running through the centre alongside a Dutch-style pavilion. There is a fruit orchard, and immaculately maintained gardens, brimming with cottage flowers and an ancient evergreen oak planted in the 17th century.
4. Giverny, France – Known as Claude Monet’s garden, the beautiful garden was inspiration for many of the artist’s finest works. The Japanese water garden has lilies which open when the sun shines on them.
5. Giardino Barbargio Pizzoni Ardeani – This stunning 17th century garden in Padova, Italy, has everything. It features beautiful statues, water games, fish ponds, lakes, springs, waterfalls, and fountains, all overlooked by the magnificent hillside.
Creating your own Simple Water Garden
There is something peaceful and relaxing about water gardens. You can easily create an oasis of your very own, with far less effort than you might imagine. Basically, anything that holds water can contain a water garden.
The first step is to find a suitable container, half barrels which you can find at your local garden centre are perfect for the job. Line the barrels with a plastic liner to stop water seeping out. Once filled with water add marginals (plants that grow in shallow water), floating and oxygenated aquatic plants and flowers with contrasting shapes and sizes.
Gardening expert Alys Fowler recommends using lilies for small water gardens:
“There are a number of water lilies suitable for container ponds: Nymphaea ‘Pygmaea Alba’ is a lovely pure white form; ‘Perry’s Baby Red’ is bright reddish pink; and ‘Helva’ is a double yellow form. All grow no more than 30cm wide and love the sun. Another choice for a sunny spot could be the beautiful kaffir lily, Hesperantha coccinea (formerly Schizostylis coccinea), which thrives in wet mud, be it a stream edge, bog garden or pot. If you only have a shady spot, the British native cotton grass, Eriophorum angustifolium has white cotton-wool seed heads over a grass-like foliage.”
The colourful plants and flowers surrounded by shimmering water are a thing of beauty and will add interest to any garden.