May 01, 2010
Sight and sound to soothe the soul
The Chinese had it right. To them, gardens are a source of spiritual calm, a mystical place that can transport us away from the frustration and stress of everyday life and bring us closer to our true selves and nature.
Gardens can be as simple or as elaborate as you want them to be, but what has been gaining popularity in Calgary are garden water features. Ponds, waterfalls and water walls are but a few of the wide array of products available in the market.
A lot of them are artistic showcases by themselves, using artifice to establish a natural perspective in — most of the time — limited space. Its effects are wondrous — a piece of nature in your very backyard, peace of mind in a puddle.
“It has such a magical way of transporting you away to a peaceful place, looking at the pond and listening to the gurgling sound from the waterfalls just instantly calms me down,” says Wendee Bishop of her recently-installed water feature with a three-foot water fall.
“At first I was worried that it might be a little too noisy for neighbours, but I couldn’t have been more wrong, as they come out and tell me how much they love to hear the sound from the waterfalls,” she says.
The magic of a gurgling brook doesn’t even have to be limited outdoors these days, says Grant Loftus of Water By Design, a Calgary-based company that specializes in creating indoor and outdoor water features.
“With the advances in technology available nowadays, you can enjoy the calming effect of a water feature inside your home or office. Bubbler rocks, rain curtains, water walls and water blades are available for indoor use and are quite popular now,” he says.
“What water features offer is an escape from the city to a tranquil paradise, it is a lifestyle everyone can enjoy,” Loftus adds.
Calgary bylaws stipulate that ponds should not be deeper than three feet (otherwise, it needs to be fenced). Keeping fish in them is an option, carp and koi are popular, but maintaining them can be a chore, Loftus says.
Creating your own dream waterscape outdoors does take a bit of an investment — especially considering that it is an investment you can only enjoy a few months each year. But Loftus says you don’t necessarily have to have deep pockets to make one.
“We can make water features from as low as $2,500 to something really elaborate like one we recently finished that came to over $100,000,” he adds. “What’s important to note now is that the new technology we use allows owners to keep it running until late fall or early spring — frozen water is fine as long as you don’t freeze the pump. You can enjoy your water feature for a much longer period than before.”
He says they can do any design the customer wants, including Oriental themes, but Western landscapes are the most popular with them. “We get our rock from B.C. quarries, and last year we transported some 300 tonnes of rock, which lend well to our Western themed waterscapes.”
Water By Design specializes in high-end water features and they are organizing a tour of their outdoor pond creations this summer. “We have over 40 ponds included in our Parade of Ponds tour that will be held from June 5 to 6,” Loftus says.
One of their most ambitious projects is a $100,000-plus water feature in an acreage north of Cochrane that will be part of the tour. “It really is a wonder to behold, the pond makes up a rotunda to their driveway with gigantic basalt rocks as its centerpiece and a 15-foot waterfall,” Loftus says.