I had the chance to visit Malverleys, a magnificent recently-created private garden in Hampshire that is occasionally open to the public.
This reflecting pool is a central feature of the garden.
The pool is a rectangular expanse, roughly 16m x 5m. With no filtration, pumps or balancing tank, it is simply fed by rainwater. It is 1 metre deep, with a shelf around the edge for some marginal plants. The gardeners add a touch of blue dye to heighten the sense of depth and reflection.
The water is crystal clear thanks to an abundance of good oxygenating plants, in particular indigenous water soldiers, Stratiotes aloides.
I think the secret to success with a pool like this is its sheer size, allowing oxygenation and circulation, and a good balance of light and shade.
Right now I’m working on plans to rejuvenate an arts and crafts garden in West Sussex, between Haslemere and Midhurst. The garden retains its original strong structures, terracing, walls, lawns. Above all, there’s a magnificent, large spring-fed rectangular pool. As I prepare the mood boards, I’ll reflect on what I learnt at Malverleys…
Background note on Malverleys: This new Hampshire garden is characterised by abundant naturalistic planting coupled with restraint in the use of structural elements which are limited to York stone, laid without mortar, reclaimed clay pavers and massive yew hedge backdrops. The gardens have been created over the past 7 years by head gardener Matt Reese who trained under the late Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter. This is high maintenance gardening of a style few can afford, requiring a team of no less than six full-time gardeners.
Malverleys is occasionally open to the public via the NGS, on a ticketed basis only - note that they always sell out well in advance.