Cool Waterscapes

By staff June 1, 2004

Dean and Susan Maggio have a strong affinity with water-Dean is a professional yacht captain and Susan is his purser-so when they settled on Siesta Key a little more than a year ago, they chose a waterfront location.

"We both love the water, and the vista is beautiful," Susan says. "But the property needed something to link the house to the bay and complement the view. We wanted to add the peaceful feeling of a little oasis with tropical foliage and a waterfall." As they soon discovered, waterscapes bring many new dimensions to a garden-light, movement, soothing sounds, and exotic flora and fauna.

After seeing the lagoon created for their next-door neighbors by Lucas Congdon of Lucas Lagoon, Inc., the Maggios called Congdon. "Within two months we had this romantic babbling waterfall flowing from rocks and boulders into a Jacuzzi and into a small pool," says Susan. "It's designed in such a way that it looks natural, as if it has always been part of the landscape."

To achieve this feeling of authenticity, Congdon used stones and rocks in a variety of sizes and shapes-as in nature-and arranged them so they merged out from the watercourse into the greater landscape. "Water in landscape design has advantages no other feature has," explains Congdon. "It instantly gives a sense of permanence and maturity to any given space."

Congdon, who honed his skills while working in his family's landscape design business in Vermont, moved to Sarasota three years ago to indulge his creative passion for waterscapes designed with nature in mind. The talented young entrepreneur began creating unique, natural tropical paradises featuring beach sand, real rocks and boulders (never fiberglass or concrete imitations), stepping stones, islands enhanced with special effects lighting and crystal-clear water purified with silver and copper ions. Each project is landscaped with native plants and palms. In 2003, his company won a Sarasota County beautification award for his renovation of the Sarasota Garden Club interior garden.

For first-time water gardeners who want to start out less ambitiously, a simple wall fountain, a Japanese-style bamboo water pump, a little in-ground pond, or even just a tub garden is a nice way to get one's feet wet. These small water features also fit well in areas where space is at a premium.

In the tiny garden of her Towles Court home, Kathleen Carrillo created several small-scale waterscapes to provide restful retreats. "We built our home on Feng Shui principles and applied the same Chi (vital life source) to the garden to encourage positive energies," Kathleen says. In the front courtyard, a colorful mosaic fish happily babbles, while on the back deck a seated Buddha appears to be listening to the soothing sound of a bamboo fountain that gently trickles into a tranquil pond.

While a fountain does not necessitate much effort, a water garden requires some special attention. Unlike a regular flowerbed, water gardens can be harder to remove or change dramatically. The impact of a pond on wildlife and the gardening aspect of tending a pond also need to be considered. Aquatic plants typically cost more and can be harder to find than land plants, but water gardeners say they're well worth the expense and the hunt. Consider exotic, day-blooming water lilies. The night-blooming variety unfurls its single or double blossoms at dusk, illuminating the ponds like glowing nightlights.

Each aquatic garden has a variety of plants that add oxygen to the water and provide shelter and food for animals living in it. Some of these aquatic plants grow along the water's edge. while others, called emergents, grow out of the water. Still others have adapted so that their leaves float on the surface of the water. These plants tend to occur in ponds and in backwaters of streams and rivers where there is little or no current. A sampling includes arrowhead, bog lily, corkscrew, horsetail, ipseudacorus, large cattail, lizards tail, longwood canna and papyrus dwarf.

Floating oxygenators, sometimes referred to as "nature's filter," are underwater plants that contribute to clear water and provide cover and protection for adult and baby fish; among them are duckweed, hornwort and parrots feather.

Gentle, friendly koi also contribute to the serenity and enjoyment of a pond. In the Orient, both the common carp and their more celebrated form koi (the koi of today are a color mutation of the wild common carp) are revered for their strength and believed to bring good fortune to their owners. Stone, rock and gravel have a great impact upon a range of naturalistic waterscapes as they enable gardeners to create an individual look to suit their own space and provide a more complete habitat for fish. 


Lucas Lagoons, Inc., 922 1414 

[email protected]

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