The Final Splash – story of a swimming pond for a garden designer

Finally finished! A view form an upstairs window - ignore the plastic furniture borrowed form the Triangle Community Garden!

So here we are. Sixteen weeks of mud, sweat and tears. Finally after all that, the pool emerges from the building site like an enormous butterfly, transformed from the ungainly caterpillar of the last few months into a fully formed swimming pond. Or it would have done if we had managed to get the planting in the surrounding borders finished – my fault, by the way. All those fine words about which plants we were using didn’t actually get them ordered on time. And although Rochfords and Provender did their best to get to site in time (and partly succeeded) there wasn’t actually enough time to plant them before the party.

After a mad sprint to the line (including Glen plumbing up the pump and jets on Saturday morning), the party is a great success. Lots of people go in the pool, including an inaugural swim by Vicky in her birthday suit (the new wet suit I gave her for her birthday, that is). We warm up around the firepit and watch the sun go down over the water.

Trees, water and sky

Despite the sixteen weeks of mess and mud, it is a thing of beauty. As Allan Pollok-Morris put it – “WOW, that’s not a pool, it’s a chunk of heaven!” As I sit on our terrace on the Sunday evening and look at it, everything seems very worthwhile. Watching the sunset reflected on the still water, the pool achieves exactly what we wanted. The reflection of the trees and the sky in the water stirs something very deep inside me. I recall Rick Darke saying that for him, Landscape is all about trees and water. To that I would add sky.

So what have we learnt in this process? Well, clearly a lot about the technical aspects of natural pool construction. Lots of people said we were mad to put so many curves into the design, but I am glad we did – it really makes the scheme – lesson one: ‘stick to your guns’. The curves made it more difficult to detail, to construct and more expensive. But without them the pool would feel inserted into the garden. As it is, it feels as though it merges with the landscape. Once the planting gets established, it will wrap around the pool.

We started the process without having thought everything through. So perhaps lesson two should be ‘plan everything thoroughly’. Although, as I said to my brother on Saturday night, had we known how much it was going to cost and what was involved, we would probably never have embarked on the whole process. ‘A bit like having children’ was his answer. Not that I have any regrets about the pond, or the children. Lesson two therefore – ‘Do what you want to do and don’t worry too much about the detail until you need to’. Not a good work lesson, but not a bad life one.

Once the planting is more established and everything has settled in, I will post some more pictures. In the meantime, normal service on a wide range of subjects (and gripes) will resume…

21 responses on “The Final Splash – story of a swimming pond for a garden designer

  1. Russell Forrester

    I have really enjoyed following this absolutely fantastic journey. A great inspiration.
    What’s next John?

    1. John Wyer Post author

      Good question Russell – retire to a comfy chair for a while to lick my woulnds! Actually, I was in for a swim last night with the pool temperature at a very comfortable 21C – rather warmer than the 16 deg it was at a couple of weeks ago.

  2. Jacquetta Menzies

    Hi John, it looks beautiful. That comment ‘if we’d known what it was going to cost….’ is one I sometimes get from clients funnily enough. I must remember the ‘bit like having children’ reply. Can’t wait to hear about the planting.

  3. Jill Reid

    Thank-you. The correct method at least in the inspiration and drawing board stage, and practical instructions until completion, has been a delight to follow. The planting will be interesting, but you will be amazed at what just ‘arrives’. Best wishes for the evolution of the swimming pond. Jill.

    1. John Wyer Post author

      In terms of what just ‘arrives’ we had to usher 9 baby ducklings and their mother out of the pool (on a strategically placed plank) the day before yesterday. They were very sweet, but the idea of them and their own offspring all coming back next year, and the year after, and the year after….

      I wa looking at a newt swimming around this morning.

    1. John Wyer Post author

      Thank you so much Alisdair. It has been great fun. I will be uploading some more recent photos soon. The pool has come on in leaps and bounds, but the lawn has suffered in the heat.

    1. John Wyer Post author

      The pool has settled in beautifully, although we have had a problem with algae this year (I think this has been the case with a lot of water bodies this year). Some of the planting didn’t make it through the 2013/14 winter so there were one or two gaps. We also had a significant issue with ducks in the first part of this year – I have not found a way of successfully keeping them off the pool. They dug up one of the plants and disturbed some of the substrate, which led to some short-term change in the nutrient levels of the pool – which probably contributed to the algae. I will post some photos soon.

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