A few posts ago, I wrote about the journey that water makes as it flows down the hill and into the lake. A few posts before that, I referred to the ‘haste makes waste’ pond that is just above the boathouse, the final spot on the water’s journey. Today I want to show how important it is to acknowledge errors when you make them — and don’t we all? — and to correct them as soon as possible, before your eye becomes accustomed to what is there.
Here is what the pond looked like last fall, before we started work.
|The boathouse pool, fall 2013.
The sculpture in the background is by Louise Doucet and Satoshi Saito.
There was nothing wrong with the pond, except that it did not provide an appropriate finale for The Aqueduct, which itself made such a strong statement.
One of the first jobs we did after we first moved into Glen Villa in 1996 was to repair the stonework around this pool. I vividly remember my excitement at watching water flow over the edge for the first time. This memory gave me real affection for the pool, but I knew it had to change. It was too rustic, no longer in keeping with the straight-line sophistication of The Aqueduct.
Making the pond more in keeping with the new design meant replacing the rock edging with a straight-edged stone, and changing the shape of the pool to something more angular. It meant managing how water entered and exited. It meant a total re-design.
Water runs into this final pool through a steel channel set at ground level. The photo below shows how the channel extended over the pool, allowing water to fall, and thus to echo the pattern of falling water that defines The Aqueduct at every step of its journey.
|Perhaps I could have left good enough alone…
but no, I couldn’t.
Removing the rock exposed the edge of the concrete basin that forms the pool and revealed how much space the rough stones had occupied visually. Before, the distance between the end of the channel and the surface of the water felt right. Supported by the stone, the channel was safe. Once the rock was removed the steel hung awkwardly in mid-air and, unsupported, was dangerously unbalanced.
|I was surprised to see how much soil there was supporting those rocks.|
|String and simple posts are an easy way to mark off a possible boundary line.|
Looking back at photos,it is easy to see the problem that my choices were leading to. The stone itself was ok but the way it was placed meant the wall was going to be massive. You can see the beginnings of the problem in this photo…
|I was quite happy with what I saw, at the time,
although I thought the stone looked a bit commercial.
but it is dramatically evident in the one below. The pond feels like a sunken garden — not a bad thing in the right context, but a big mistake within the context of The Aqueduct.
|Oops! Surely that stone isn’t meant to hang over the water?|
Nonetheless, we finished the job, pushing to get it done before the snow fell. When it completed, I was satisfied. But as soon as I saw it this spring, I knew the work had to be redone.
The solution was to remove the stacked stone and step it back gradually. This provided room for planting beds between the steps, similar to the beds beside the reflecting pool, where steel plates separate plantings of an ornamental grass. This is what the pond looked like in version two, before plants went in.
|I breathe a huge sigh of relief looking at this photo.
Finally things are looking up.
|People sit on the three steps on the left of this photo,
exactly as I hoped they would.
|The Mukdenia perked up a week or so after I took this photo.
|Hakonechloa is a great plant, even if its name is hard to pronounce.
I hope it will thrive.
for its distinctively coloured frond, but it is too large for the space. Maidenhair (Adiatum pedatum) was another choice but it seemed too fragile against the stonework. I settled on the lady fern ‘Lady in Red’ (Athryium filix-femina var. angustum). Its red stem should provide another echo of rusting steel.
|I’m particularly pleased with the way the Rodgersia sits against the rock.
My fingers are crossed for the Siberian Iris.