Four Winds Water Garden
In keeping with RHS bicentenary celebrations, The Garden of the Four Winds described the voyages of the early plant hunters, sent by the Royal Horticultural Society 'in quest of seeds and herbarium material of plants at that time unknown to cultivation'. Many of the plants which these four men gathered are now common in our gardens today.
The water garden's dinghy
The water garden mapped out the 'four corners' of the world with four gravel areas of contemplation, connected by a path surrounding the central pond. The visitor could mimic the plant hunters' journeys, through meadow, bogs and through woodland. A summer house retreat across the water displayed botanical paraphernalia, such as pressed flowers, seeds and a plant-hunter's log book.
The wilderness planting had five distinct areas: aquatic plants in the pool, bog planting around the boardwalk, pool-side planting opposite the bog, meadow planting along the jetty border and woodland plantings behind the summer house. Most of the hard landscaping was created with recycled wood and bricks - the wood for the walkways and jetty was even reclaimed from Brighton Pier!
The Garden of Four Winds was presented by multiple RHS award-winning Anglo Aquarium Plant Company. The family business organise an annual design competition together with Capel Manor Horticultural College - won this year by professional garden designer Catriona Andrews. Anglo Aquarium used their knowledge of aquatic plants to introduce the concept of Swimming Ponds to the UK in their 2001 Hampton entry. Swimming Ponds are a natural alternative to swimming pools, designed with a deep central swimming channel and marginal plants purifying the water, resulting in minimum maintenance.
The Four Winds water garden was impressive from the design through to the final details. The design was accessible, the plantings succeeded in creating an healthy wilderness, and the historical tale told through the garden would capture any gardener's imagination. A deserved fourth Tudor Rose Award for their cupboard!
- Bull rushes lined the pond's edge beside the walkway.
- A plant-hunter's cutting in the summer house, looking out across the water.
Gunnera by the Water...
- The gunnera's huge leaves encroached onto the walkway - fortunately Moosey's tales had warned me of the spikey dangers waiting underneath the leaves.
Log Pile Border...
- Woodland plants beside a log wall - designed to encourage beneficial insect visitors.
Water Lilies & Gunnera...
- A view of water lilies, across the pond to the gunnera, decking and seating area in the far corner.
- The pink water lilies were only just opening on the pond.
Wooden Garden Bench...
- A seating area to contemplate the water garden view.
Four Winds Water Garden Plants...
- The marginal and cold water aquatic plants are grown by the Water Garden's presenter, Anglo Aquarium Plant Company.
Boat by the Jetty...
- The handmade dinghy by the jetty was an alternative way of getting across the water. Reclaimed wood for the jetty was supplied by Brighton & Hove Recycling.
RHS Explorer History...
- A log-book, and flower-pressings were some of the botanical exploration tools in the summer house. The summer house was itself a piece of impressive wood craftsmanship.
Wooden Decking Path...
- The wooden decking walkway across the bog. Bog plants were supplied by the internationally renowned Beth Chatto Nursery.
Cerise Woodland Flowers...
- Cerise pink woodland flowers were one of the few subtle splashes of colour. Perennial plants were supplied by Woottens Plants.