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Alan Titchmarsh Column - December 23/January 24

Green Fingers…The Alan Titchmarsh Column

He’s a magnificent broadcaster, gifted gardener, brilliant author and all-round horticultural visionary. This month, Alan Titchmarsh talks about adding water features to your garden to improve it even more.

Ah, the gentle burble of a garden fountain! It has a certain timeless charm, doesn't it? It's not just the preserve of stately homes or grand public gardens. With a dash of patience, a sprinkle of know-how, and an eye for design, you too can bring that touch of serenity to your own plot.

Many a time, whilst wandering the meandering pathways of my Hampshire home, I've paused by my own water feature, momentarily transfixed by its aquatic ballet. Yet, I remember the days when I would regard these structures with some scepticism, thinking, 'All that plumbing! All that fuss!'

It's true that the construction of a water feature can be somewhat involved, but the rewards – both aesthetically and in terms of wildlife attraction – are undoubtedly worth it.

However, before plunging headlong into the world of water features, it's wise to consider a few practicalities.

First and foremost, you have to think about the plumbing. Pipes need to be buried, but not too deeply; you don't want to run into trouble come winter when the ground freezes. The supply is another matter and while it might be tempting to tie it directly to your home's mains, this can prove costly. Instead, consider a recirculating system which will save on both water and your pocket.

In terms of style, it's essential to find a design that complements the surroundings. There's little sense in plonking a sleek, modern sculpture in the midst of a cottage garden or conversely, placing a rustic barrel in a space that is edgy and contemporary.

When I was planning mine, I took inspiration from the age of the house, the types of plants around and the overall 'feel' of the garden. Your water feature should enhance, not clash with, its environment.

And let us not forget maintenance. Algae blooms and the occasional mischievous leaf can plague water features. A little routine cleaning and perhaps a strategic water plant or two, can keep these issues in check. Remember, this is a living feature and like all living things, it requires a touch of tender loving care.

Reflecting on my own water feature journey, it's clear to me now that these constructions are more than mere decorative pieces. They're transformative, turning a simple garden into a haven of peace, an attractor of wildlife, and a focal point of design.

So, if you've been toying with the idea of introducing a water feature to your patch, I say dive in!