We can not exist without water. It is a vital element to life. But our relationship to water goes well beyond basic dependency, and water has other effects on us, too. In a garden, water enhances our overall sensory experience and adds beauty, while also touching us in some essential way. I think this is a big reason why the practice of incorporating water into gardens dates back to ancient times and continues today.
In the landscape, water can make a garden come alive in many different ways. It can soothe and relax, excite and energize, or cool and refresh. Whatever the effect, it always tends to play a starring role and draw attention to itself.
One of my favorite landscapes celebrates water and gives it a place of honor. At the Alhambra, deeply shadowed halls opening to sun-soaked patios and lush gardens capture the essence of its Moorish origin, despite numerous changes in later years. Water is everywhere to set the tempo, with splashing jets and flowing channels. It cools down the hot climate, awakens the senses and adds choreography to these gardens. Water was so essential to the Alhambra that the Moors diverted a river for almost five miles to feed the gardens.