January 28, 2017

What Is It About Reflecting Ponds?

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Why do I stop in my tracks every time I see a reflecting pond? Does the same thing happen to you?

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Anyone who attended the 2016 Garden Bloggers' Fling, in the Twin Cities,witnessed the magic of the Como Park Conservatory water gardens. Likewise, reflecting ponds in communities around the world are often among the best examples of the "garden as art."

Whether it's the way the light reflects images of adjacent buildings, plants, trees, or other structures, or the shadows and reflections of the pond plants, themselves, reflecting ponds create magical dimensions and colorful scenes impossible to ignore.

Reflecting ponds sometimes seem borderline overwhelming in their complexity; other times, they're studies in the beauty of simplicity. Brilliant with bright color in spring and fall; graceful in summer and winter. Large pools that stretch around buildings in great expanses; and tiny ponds housing a few goldfish and some simple plants.

What they all have in common is the power to capture and reflect the world around them--sometimes intentionally and often accidentally--in great scenes that create, display, and inspire art. Whether you stand this way or that, or view from the top or the side, each movement creates a new kaleidoscope of awesomeness. Sometimes it's their construction, and the props and materials around them, that fascinate.

Here's a small sample of ponds I've enjoyed--at Como Park, St. Paul, Minnesota; Cabbage Town, Toronto, Ontario; Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison, Wisconsin; New Orleans Botanical Garden, New Orleans, Louisiana; Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers, Florida; and my own backyard. Click on the images to access the Flickr library with descriptions of the gardens and locations.

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56 comments:

  1. Oh Beth, what a delightful post to read on this cold windy winter day. I do love a spot of water in the garden. It seems to draw you there no matter the time of year. This time that you have pictured is the best time though. I love the vareigated leaves of some of the water lilies. The picture of the pond in the ground with brick around the edge reminded me of a pond a neighbor had when I was a child. I loved to go and just stare into that pond. They no longer had gold fish but it was just the water, reflecting the surrounds that drew me there. I was always chased away because they were afraid that I would fall in and drown. ha... I just couldn't understand that because I was a good swimmer from an early age. That blue/lavender waterlily is exquisite. Thanks for this warming and inspirational post.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. Your childhood experience sounds magical. I remember being worried about my kids near water when they were little, too. The pond you mention is at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida. I do think that's my favorite reflecting pond. It was designed by Mina Edison as part of her moon garden. You would love it!

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  2. I love the ponds water. I love plants in it, especially lilies. Water the sight and sound, for me rest. I alone in the garden 'pond'. Regards.

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    1. Yes, there are so many aspects of reflecting ponds that make them special. Sometimes the magic happens with great planning and placement. Other times, there are happy surprises. Sights and sounds, yes, they make the ponds so special!

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  3. Beautiful Beth . . .
    I think I am caught by the reflections yet also peering in to see what is inside . . .
    Gorgeous post, makes me long for warmth . . .

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    1. I long for warmth, too. Thinking about it helps a little bit. Good point about the attraction of the reflections and the contents within the water. Thanks, Lynne!

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  4. Stunning photography; you have an eye for positioning objects at the perfect angle. Lately, I've seen a number of pools that are dyed black to increase the water's reflectivity. Works well and looks especially good in gardens with a modern vibe.

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    1. Thank you, Marian. I've noticed the black-dyed water in some ponds, too, and often the lining is black to create the illusion of depth and for better reflection. Fascinating how various designs and characteristics can change the look and personality of the pond.

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  5. Fabulous photos! Nothing like the patterned leaves on those tropical lilies.

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    1. Thanks! Water plants are so fascinating, aren't they? The colors, the shapes, the way the water droplets gather on the surface...

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  6. Gorgeous, Beth. Brings back fond memories, too.

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    1. Thank you, Helen. Yes, the memories are so special. My limited experience with Flings has been fabulous, for so many reasons--most of all, the people! :)

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  7. I adore ponds which is why I have one...reflections...oh yes they draw me in! Love your pond too....

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    1. From photos on your blog, Donna, I can see that your pond is a special place! So difficult to put into words...

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  8. Lovely images! We seem drawn to water. Perhaps it's an evolutionary survival thing. In any case reflections on water are mesmerizing. A natural drug that allows us to see the world in a slightly altered way?

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    1. Thanks, Peter. Yes, it does seem to be a universal human thing. I find the fascination happens with natural water sources as well as man-made ones. The man-made ones seem like a particularly attractive blend of nature and art. A certain magic happens in this intersection.

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  9. Beautiful, almost painfully beautiful! (yes, it's that time of year--lusting after color)

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    1. Hi Hollis: Thanks. I know the colors are almost overwhelming any time of year, but especially in the middle of the grayness of winter.

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  10. Thank you for these beautiful pics on this dreary day in Madison. ;)

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    1. You are welcome. Thanks for stopping by! Before we know it ... well, it will be a while for summer, but March is right around the corner. ;-)

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  11. There's something so elemental and primitive about water that it forces us to slow down and just breathe. I love reflecting pools and this beautiful post! :)

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    1. Thanks, Tammy. I predict that the next growing season will be needed therapy for many of us after the craziness of the fall and winter. I, personally, long for green and growing things--especially this year.

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  12. A lovely selection of reflections. The waterlilies are glorious - I have never seen any so deeply pink or purple.
    The appeal of reflections for me is simply the symmetry...
    Best wishes :)

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    1. Thank you. I agree, the symmetry works its magic. But then, added to the symmetry is the complexity of the intentional and unintentional elements--the clouds that can't be planned, the fish that surface at just the right moment...combined with the reflections of plants and objects that were planned. Magic.

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  13. Reflecting pools are so beautiful and I enjoyed coming along on your tour. I have a favorite reflecting pool in Old Westbury Gardens here on Long Island. There is a white wrought iron gazebo overlooking a reflecting pool with purple lotus blooms, that I just cannot get enough of. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos!

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    1. Oh gosh, your word picture has me imagining your Long Island pond with great joy. I'll have to put it on the bucket list of gardens to see. It sounds stunning1

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  14. Excellent post. Reflections in water are fascinating, it's hard to say just why. There is something so peaceful about them.They are at their best when they feel simpler.

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    1. Thanks, Jason. Yes, the words are inadequate. Perhaps that's why so reflecting pools are so often the subjects of great art. I agree: The simpler ponds are easier to take in. Although, if I encounter a complex one, I find myself studying each element or section, a little at a time.

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  15. Hi,
    You are not going to believe this, one of the classes I took on Saturday at the Eau Claire Garden Seminar was Water Features in the Garden, presented by Winter Greenhouse, Winter Wisconsin. I think this summer I will add some water feature to my garden. Just a small feature for now, I hope to have a small pond someday.
    Carla

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    1. Oh how fun! What a great class to take in the middle of winter. It's wonderful to have a pond in the garden. We're still trying to figure out the best elements and presentation for ours, but every year it's a little different. Always magical.

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  16. This is so beautiful! I love ponds and aquatics. Images are really great. I love the Mina Edison's image, it's so appealing!

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    1. Thank you, Lula. The Mina Edison pond is my favorite. It's so simple and imperfect, and yet so strategically and perfectly placed. Her entire moon garden is captivating!

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  17. Lovely post Beth, and a pond is very high on my wish-list simply because I would like to grow water lilies - it has been a dream of mine for 25 years. Gardens have come and gone, but there has never been a good place to have a pond, perhaps this garden will be the one... :-)

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    1. Thanks, Helene. Oh, I'm sure you will create an amazing reflecting pond. You are so creative with every garden and plant arrangement that you create. I look forward to following each new adventure you take in your new garden!

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  18. I don't know how I missed this post, but wowzers! Great photos! That last lily looks like one I grow in my pond called 'Claude Ikins' lily.

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    1. Thanks, Tina. :) That is the cultivar! I looked it up from my post about it back in 2013. We didn't have water lilies in the pond last year (long story). We need to work on that for this year!

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  19. What a great collection of pond pictures! Thank you Beth! Water adds so much to a garden.

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    1. Thanks, Tatyana. I'm longing for warm, unfrozen water with plants in it. ;-)

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  20. Gosh, lots of inspiration there, Beth! Some gorgeous water lilies too - love the one with the red variegated leaves!

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    1. Thanks, Jane. I think I'm as fascinated with water lilies as I am with Roses. They're so photogenic.

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  21. I love reflecting ponds; unfortunately my pond is so overrun with water lilies not much water remains to reflect. I haven't been to Olbrich or Boerner in years, I hope to someday return. Gorgeous photos!

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    1. That's interesting, Karen. Your pond must be a fabulous ecosystem for fish and wildlife! I love both Boerner and Olbrich. :)

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  22. I dearly love reflecting ponds so yes, I always stop. I loved the one at the Fling. I took so many photos there. Thanks for the reminder.~~Dee

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    1. Hi Dee: Yes, the Como Park ponds in MN were amazing, weren't they?! Good memories.

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  23. Your photos are gorgeous! I am always entranced by reflective pools of water, whether they are simply puddles in the road or fabulous reflective gardens like the images you posted here. I enjoy the perspective of upside down reflections, which unexpectedly double the beauty from above.

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    1. Thanks, Deb! I agree: The reflections of the already beautiful plants make for double-beauty. Also, I like the way the reflections change with the angle of viewing, the time of day (angle of sun), and other variables.

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  24. There is something about water that mesmerizes, isn't there? Lovely photos!

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    1. Thanks! Yes, mesmerize is the perfect word for water features in a garden. :)

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  25. Gorgeous! I think people are drawn to water by nature, but there is something definitely special and beautiful about reflecting pools. Some of your pictures are like Monet paintings!

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    1. Thanks, Indie. I thought of Monet when viewing these ponds. Obviously, the subject is an inspiration for art. Reflecting pools, to me, are a nice marriage of human creativity with natural elements.

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  26. You have a wonderful selection and variety of reflected pools in this post, Beth. Beautiful photos too.

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    1. Thanks, Donna. Currently, I'm yearning for the "warmth"--in all senses of the word--of ponds, open water, and the wildlife and plants that thrive in them. ;-)

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  27. Hi Beth, I completely agree with you about the magic of reflecting ponds! Monet's garden with the water lilies comes to my mind first and, of course, his famous water lily paintings, if I think about ponds in the garden.
    I loved seeing your photo examples, especially the ones with the lavender water lilies.
    We have a pool in the garden and even though I am not a big fan of pools, I love its reflecting quality. It is similar to a reflecting pond.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Yes, Monet was on my mind while compiling this post. There's something both wild and cultivated in a reflecting pond. I think the lavender water lilies are among my favorites. I would like to go back to that garden at some point--I think it's my favorite pond of all. I'm envious of your pool--for the beauty of the reflections, for the joy of swimming, and for the health effects. :)

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  28. Water does it for me every time, whether it be rushing through a natural canyon, sitting peacefully in a garden pond or any other configuration. You show some mighty fine examples.

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    1. Thanks, Ricki. I agree: Yes, to rushing, ponding, and bubbling water in a garden. And it attracts the wildlife, too. Win-win.

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