At the Chelsea Flower Show, it is a well-accepted principle that ‘a small garden needs a water feature’. This year, I noticed the usual number of ponds but fewer fountains. Could the explanation be that after two very wet years people are fed up to the back teeth with the sound of falling water?
The difference between a pool and a pond is as follows: a pond is ‘a small body of still water of artificial formation, made either by excavating a hollow in the ground or by embanking and damming up a watercourse in a natural hollow’. Pond derives from ‘pound’, as in ‘impounded water’. ‘Pool’ is an old Germanic word of uncertain origin meaning ‘a small body of still or standing water, esp. one of natural formation’. So those rectangular blue-tiled places we use for swimming should be called ‘swimming ponds’ – not pools. And the water bodies on display at Chelsea should be called ‘ponds’. The water in many of the examples on display was tinted black or brown. This makes it more reflective, and hides any under-water pumping equipment, but the water looks as though it has been ejected from a frightened octopus. Steel pools are also popular but, even if made with Corten steel, can be expected to have rust-brown water for many years. Phil Johnson’s Trailfinders Australian Garden won the Best in Show award with one of the most naturalistic (and expensive) water features I have seen at Chelsea. The design idea dates from c1800 but the implementation is modern.