The Pond Garden was created in 2019. Previously, this area had been our vegetable garden, but in 2019 I decided to switch direction and create a Mediterranean-style gravel-garden. The raised beds were renovated and filled with flowering perennials. The aim was to create a space full of summer colour (May to November), which would attract insects, pollinators and other wildlife. You can see the location of the old vegetable garden in the diagram below which shows the layout of the garden behind my house.
At the centre of the new design is a formal lily pond (actually two rigid pond liners, with a bridge covering the join). The beds have been prepared with free-draining soil, so that sun loving plants like salvia, alliums and lavender thrive. The plan below shows the new design. You can see that the layout of the original vegetable garden has largely been retained.
Pond gARDEN DESIGN
The garden is bounded to the rear (north-east) with a tall privet hedge, and to the south-west end with a lower, Lonicera nitida hedge which divides it from the Lawn Garden. The north-west boundary is fenced. In 2020 this was renovated with black-stained horizontal board fencing. To the south-east is an area of paving with dining table and chairs.
Formal gardens are often have strong axes of symmetry along which one can create interesting vistas. The two main axes through the Pond Garden are shown below, viewed from both directions. As you can see, each view terminates with some eye-catching focal point: a bench, an arbour, the dining room doors, or a pot and dining area.
Here is a diagonal view across the garden looking North. It was taken in July 2020, the first year after planting, before the fence and arbor were renovated:
To create a harmonious design, there is a consistency in the use of materials and colours. As you can see in the photos above, there is a mixture of black stained timber alongside bare timber. This is evident in the bridge, arbour, fence, raised beds and furniture. The paving isffl brick pavers which have a range of subtle colours including muted reds and blues. The main colours are black and white which is taken from the local country vernacular, being seen in many rural buildings in the West Sussex countryside, including the inspirational gardens at West Dean.
Before the garden was planted the amount of hard-landscaping may have seemed overpowering. However, as a rule, when designing gardens, one should not be afraid of using strong structural elements as they will always be very much softened by the planting, especially, as here, where plants spills over onto the paving and are allowed to self-seed into it.
- See more about how I laid the paving here
The pond is a small rectangular, brick-edged pond which hosts white water lilies in the summer, along with a number of native plants including water mint, water soldiers and water hawthorne. I have red, white and black goldfish who seem to survive the occasional attention of a local heron. The water in the pond is dyed with a black pond dye. This helps suppress algae, hide the fish from the heron, and creates a deeper, more reflective pool.
- You can read more about the pond here.
The Beds & Planting
The space around the pond is divided into a series of raised beds, each eight inches high. The beds were originally made of oak and used for vegetable growing, but in their new role they provide a free-draining environment for the mediterranean style planting. Many plants can be grown here that might otherwise succumb to our wet winters. Another benefit of planting in raised beds is that the smaller plants are raised closer to view. I also find that the beds are easier to maintain, not only because they are raised (so less bending) but because at only four feet deep even plants in the centre are only an arm’s reach away.
Most of the beds have been mulched with a sharp gravel. This not only provides a nicer look than bare soil, but helps prevent soil splashing onto the leaves of smaller plants when it rains. Some of the beds contain smaller alpines and succulents. I have placed rocks here, set on the diagonal which act as dividers between clumps.
The aim of the planting was to create a summer flower-garden which would attract bees butterflies and other pollinators. The planting was designed to have its main impact between May and September – the months when we are most likely to use the adjacent dining area. Even out of season, the area looks interesting due to the strong structure, clipped evergreens and trained fruit-trees.
The new pond garden 9 months
after planting (June 2020)
Read more about the planting here:
The first year after redeveloping this area: