A Brief History of Garden Ponds: Part 2

The Renaissance

During the Italian Renaissance, water gardens served a dual purpose. On the one hand, they were masterful works of art, featuring inspiring architecture and classical statues. On the other hand, their designers made amusing additions to entertain visitors and sometimes even to play practical jokes on them.

French designers were eager to make use of the new Italian innovations in water gardens, adapting them to their own particular needs and land features. The chateaus, surrounded by moats, were often the canvas for new French garden designers, with the Italian cascades giving way to reflecting pools due to the flatter French landscape. Versailles, famous for being the location where the treaty ending World War I was signed, is also well-known as one of the premier French Renaissance gardens.

Though water gardens flourished and developed in France and Italy during this time period, the rest of Europe seemed little interested in the art. Gardens remained by comparison simple and often unadorned, featuring little in the way of statuary.

The Landscape Movement

In the early 1700s a movement began in England that would revolutionize European gardens and ornamental ponds. The Landscape Movement, as it was called, largely rejected the formal gardens in favor of more natural, albeit idealized and manmade, features. For example, streams, ravines, and waterfalls were much preferred to jets or fountains. Thus the Landscape Movement was a step for Europeans in the direction of traditional Chinese and Japanese gardens.

As the modern era approached, large scale private estates began to disappear. Public parks, such as New York's Central Park, however, gained popularity and became the new subjects of interest for garden designers.

Water Gardens in Recent Years

In keeping with the eclectic spirit of modern times, modern water gardens are often a blend of traditional European and Asian styles. And with the recent advances and widespread availability of technology, water gardens are now within reach for more people than ever. Availability of pond supplies such as pond and water garden kits, pond pumps, pond liners and pond water treatment products also make garden ponds easier to create and maintain. The last ten years or so have seen a tremendous increase in the popularity of home garden ponds, as thousands of people discover the benefits and joys of owning their own ponds.

But while the way we create garden ponds may have changed, our motivation for doing so has not. We still seek, as did our ancestors, for a little piece of paradise, where we can relax with all the sights and sounds of a water garden: running water, aimlessly floating water lilies, graceful fish, and brightly colored flowers gently bending in the wind.

Related pond article: Brief History of Water Gardens Part 1

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