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the daily gardener blog

the fountain at the center of the garden

The fountain at the center of the garden was a staple of medieval landscape design. Its simple yet powerful symbolism was derived from necessity, but speaks to that part of the soul that envisions water as healing and life giving. Nowhere is a tiny fountain more at home than at the center of a medicinal herb wheel.

The lucky green thumbs who have a water feature in their yard can testify that it always becomes the center of garden life, attracting both people and small creatures towards it like a magnet. The water is a symbol for emotion, but also for cleansing and abundance, and for this reason its presence always makes people feel safe and nurtured, we are all drawn to it, whether we are aware of it or not.
A water feature doesn’t have to be large or complex, a shallow bird bath often suffices, or even a colorful water gauge, to keep track of the rain.
Whether it’s a koi pond, a miniature waterfall splashing on a stone slab, or a tiny reflective pool flowing over a bed of river rocks, the presence of water invites to serenity and reflection and offers a peaceful retreat for the spirit, a place where it can rest and be restored.
Water is never isolated in the landscape. If it is a water pond it provides a canvas for a whole range of moisture loving plants, from cattails and water lilies to ferns and astilbe. If it’s a small reflecting pool, low growing stepable plants thrive around it, rejoicing in the abundance of water that splashes over the sides. If it’s a bird bath, tall colorful annuals provide it with a vivid background.
If bringing water into the garden is not feasible, its presence can always be implied by incorporating a reflective surface, or even a paving of colorful glazed tiles surrounded by bright blue flowers.