Water gardens talk for horticultural society

Felpham and Middleton Horticultural Society welcomed Nigel Phillips to their recent meeting.
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Having graduated from Merrist Wood College, Nigel has worked as a landscape and garden designer since 1981. He specialises in the use of water within the garden. Nigel's talk was engaging, amusing and informative and was accompanied by many beautiful slides.

Nigel spoke about both large and small gardens, from large gardens with vast lakes to more compact gardens with small areas of water and by doing so he was able to relate his wealth of experience to those who mostly have smaller gardens with only a little space available for water features.

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It was fascinating to see the development of several gardens and one in particular which was virtualy a building site with a vast acreage. The slides showed the developments of the lake step by step and how clever subtle planting can help draw the eye and disguise the less attractive features.

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Slides of water plants showed where certain plants like to be planted, whether marginal plants such as Astilble, Iris Sibirica or the stunning Primula Candelabra that like to be grown beside water without immersion, the various coloured water lilies wih their stunning flowers that like to be fully immesed witin the water, to those essential, rather less colourful, but crucial plants that provide oxygenation within the pond. Nigel showed one large pond which had been covered in algae and then showed us how the pond looked once the algae had been removed, a total transformatom.

Members enjoyed seeing the development of the lake from its first year and thereafter, once it was more developed and the various plants were more settled in their various positions.

Nigel emphasised that if a pond were to contain fish, it was not necessary to feed them which came as quite a surprise to some. He maintained that fish were able to find their own food within the pond.

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On the smaller scale we were shown a new modern garden whose main feature was water but which was used in a less traditonal way with the use of several symmetrical areas of hard landscaping through the centre of the garden.

Nigel pointed out that the constant danger of water and small children and explained how he had ingeniously used the hard landscaping to reduce the risk to any little one who might want to explore the water (which as he said, they invariably do!)

We heard the wonderful sound of water trickling over smaller water featuress, such as Grecian urns wih their built-in pump which forces water through the middle of the urn and which then gently trickles over the edge. Nigel explained how all these water features work and emphasised that even the smallest gardens could contain such a feature.

Throughout the talk Nigel emphasised the importance of water within the garden, not only for aesthetic purposes but for the environment and biodiversity as when creating even the smallest pond, before long the garden will be visited by numerous creatures ranging from damselflies, dragonflies, water boatmen and many other species whilst providing water for the garden.

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A question and answer session followed after which members and visitors left feeling informed and entertained and ready to use some of Nigel's advice wthin their own gardens.

The next meeting of the society is on Thursday, May 23,at 7.30pm in St Mary's Centre, Grassmere Close, Felpham PO22 7NU when Nick Gilbert will be speaking to us on "The Gilbert's Dahlia Year". Visitors most welcome - £2 to include refreshments.

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