Not only does art serve to “wipe the dust off one’s soul” but so does its counterpart, nature. Hence the garden in our lives, where we relax and find peace and solace. Whether grand and resplendent or hidden behind walls and secretly enchanting, they are often the expression of the owner’s love of nature. And each has a story to tell.
Cities without water are strange places, incomplete, temporary in some ways, dry and dusty. A garden without some form of water is akin to a wasteland as well. Water is not merely a potential optional feature, in any natural garden it is an absolute must. But water, as we know from the world round, is a fickle and difficult product. It is crucial for life, and is quite promiscuous and indiscriminate, slaking the thirst of high-powered athletes, diluting hard liquor, or, in the case of your pool, carrying around nutrients that feed all that green stuff that accumulates in the corners and then ion the floor.
Chlorine has been one of the standard means of killing off the algae and mosses, but for health and aesthetic reasons many people have expressed an interest in alternatives. In recent years a great deal has been done in this sector of garden design. Fortunately so, because some of today’s natural pools are veritable oases for both man and wildlife. It is now possible, with an ingenious system, such as the one developed by Hans Graf of Bionova, to create swimming ponds or natural ponds (biotopes) in any shape or size to suit any possible type of garden – and all this without chemical substances that might damage essential organisms and in turn, our own health.
Although Graf’s natural filtering system involves quite complicated, tried and tested technology, the concept itself is relatively simple. It’s all a matter of taking the nutrients out of the water to make sure that unwanted algae are unable to survive. Literally, taking away the life-line. The owner of the pool avoids having to struggle against algae already settled in the pool, or spend weekends painstakingly skimming or clean-ing it off the floors and sides. The Bionova system ensures that the algae don’t have the least chance to thrive in the first place. As mentioned above, it is a relatively simple idea, but the implementation is more difficult. The pool is divided into two areas. One is called the regenerative area and this is where a gravel (usually lime-based) filtering system is installed. Phosphate levels in the water are lowered so that the bacteria that cause green scum and algae are immediately eradicated as they cannot survive in phosphate- free zones. This water is circulated throughout both areas of the pool and is thus the most effective and healthy way of keeping a natural swimming pool clean and its water clear.
What’s important to know, however, is that in water of this quality only certain plants can grow. These are mainly papyrus, yellow Iris, water-mint, carex or sedges, reeds and purple loosestrife. It is however possible, using specially designed capped pots to have about thirty other types of plants growing in your natural pond, including Monet’s fabulous water lilies, assuming an original isn’t hanging in your dining room.
Article by Frances Vetter