Water gardens, ornamental ponds and disappearing pondless waterfalls
seem to be the newest craze but what if I told you water gardens have been around for thousands of years?
Would you be surprised? By understanding just a little history of how the "Water Garden" has developed over
the years, you may begin to have an entirely new appreciation for your own personal water garden or pond.
One of the reasons Exotic Aquatics can offer you a wonderful historical background on water gardens is
because of a close up encounter we had at a water garden seminar with Anthony Archer-Wills. Sitting in on
a seminar given by Anthony Archer-Wills, will do more that just stimulate your imagination, it will rock you
back on your heals with awe and fascination.
Anthony Archer-Wills started building water gardens, waterfalls, fountains
and ponds in 1964, before pond kits were conceived! After forty plus years of actual in the trenches pond design
and pond construction, today Anthony Archer-Wills is strictly a consultant that travels around the world helping
contractors and landscape architects build custom water gardens and beyond.
Anthony Archer-Wills is quite possibly one of the greatest pond builders to
ever walk the planet and sitting in on one of his seminars is a fantastic experience. Besides his English accent
that is wonderful to listen too, Anthony displays a wonderful array of photographs expressing his long time love
and fascination for water gardens.
Anthony Archer-Wills has built huge waterscapes that the professional pond builder would
mistake for the work of Mother Nature, herself. Primarily working in England, when moats that surround the
historical castles fail, Anthony Archer-Wills is called on to reconstruct them!
The Pond Diggers plan to hire Anthony Archer-Wills as a water garden
consultant on one or more large projects, which are in the works at the time of this writing. Seriously Anthony
Archer-Wills is a living pond legend.
Natural Water Gardens and Waterfalls
Thousands of years ago melting glaciers may have formed the very first water gardens the world has seen, at some
fourteen thousand foot elevations. Of course in areas that experience heavy rainfall, naturally water gardens and
ponds were formed. The heavy rain fall would run off into depressions in the terrain creating swamps, bogs and water
gardens that the dinosaurs enjoyed and used as watering holes. Fossil evidence proves that the water lily is one of
the first flower plants on the planet, over 100 million years ago!
Incredibly enough, beavers are wonderful water garden and pond builders. The
beaver is actually a masterful pond builder using wood and mud to construct dams, thus by default, building swampy
areas complete with bogs and waterfalls.
In nature you will find wonderful examples of pond design & pond construction that can help you develop techniques
you can use in your very own water garden or pond. In fact, The Pond Diggers of Exotic Aquatics use natural waterfalls,
streams and ponds as inspiration for the water gardens and ponds that we build for our customer base.
Forest Falls, California is the home of the largest waterfall in Southern California
and is only thirty minutes away from our Pond Construction Headquarters. The creeks and streams of Forest Falls have been
traveled many times by The Pond Diggers simply as an educational tool.
Historically speaking each year, in nature, man could expect different water gardens
and ponds to develop in their local settings. Fueled by snow run off, the waterfalls in Forest Falls, California are
wonderful year round. You can hike the creeks time after time and still be amazed each visit as the waterfalls and streams
are ever changing because of rainfall, floods and the heavy flow of melting snow each spring. If you look very closely while
hiking the streams, you can see areas where there are spillways just waiting to become waterfalls when the water flow is heavier.
Man has been enchanted with water since the beginning of time and it wasn't long before man
had the desire to control water which has brought us to our current relationship with water in our gardens. The melody that water
brings to a garden brings an entire landscape alive.
Formal Water Gardens 3500 Years Ago?
Ancient Egyptian culture and religion placed the Lotus in high regards, evidence of this is
proven through hieroglyphics, art, legends, and myths. Additionally, the aquatic plant, Giant Papyrus, was used by the Egyptians
to make paper.
Gorgeous hieroglyphics in Egyptian tombs depict water gardening in a fascinating formal fashion. A rectangular formal pond
complete with water lilies and fish, with marginal edges adorned with lush aquatic plants was painted by the Egyptians in a
Kings Tomb. This is actual proof of extraordinary pond construction and pond designs over 3500 years ago!
More than a thousand years ago the Romans transported water hundreds of miles under ground
within aqua ducts. Later, Aqua duct style pond designs were eventually emulated in pond construction techniques to create formal
water gardens. Canals, fountains and formal water gardens were contrived concepts that were engendered from the necessity to move
water from one point to another.
Throughout properties in England built hundreds of years ago, we have see water run across
the tops of the walls in an aqua duct style construction fashion. Wherever water was needed on the property, wonderful fountains
were created to pour out of walls into formal and informal constructed water gardens.
The formal rectangular Reflection Ponds, with other embellishments, came from the Ancient
Greeks who engineered all kinds of Romans Water Garden Sculptures like the spectacular Titan Fountain, for example, in Rome.
The Water Garden In Time
It would seem that at no point in history, have fountains or water gardens not been used.
The designs of fountains and water gardens may have changed both, formality and informality yet, have always existed. The Water
Garden is so compelling and the awareness of water has always been used to draw people from one point of the garden to another in
landscape design. Provocative visually and audibly the sound of the water garden can be used to lure people to a parts of a
landscape or garden that people normally wouldn't want to visit!
At The Alhambra Palace, the fountain of the Lions is a most famous fountain. The use of
very narrow and deep aqua ducts were used bring water to the fountain in order to create less evaporation in the waterscape
The precision of the pond construction edge treatment was amazing back in the history of
pond construction. The pond designers and pond construction specialists thousands of years ago were absolutely precise on their
elevations usually within a quarter of an inch on large spectacular water garden and pond edges!
It would seem that in the 60's it was the beginning of the lop sided water garden and pond
edges would appear! The truth is a wonderful Reflection Pond is much better if the water is brimming on the edges of the water
garden. If you don't have brimming water on the edge treatment of your water garden the reflection will be extremely heavy because
the water magnifies everything in the reflection. So if you have a water level three inches from the edge of the pond, the reflection
in the water garden will appear to have a six inch edge treatment. It is much more desirable to see the reflection of the clouds,
skyline and trees then your heavy edge treatment in your water garden.
More on the history of The Water Garden to come shortly.......................