Water gardens are not a modern garden idea. Using water in gardens is part of an ancient tradition originating in India and the Middle East, where fountains and pools provided a soothing antidote to the stifling midday heat.

Gardeners for the great houses of the aristocracy in England and France later adapted these ideas for use in more northerly climes, realizing that the presence of water can be a beautiful and restful addition to a garden in any climate.

Despite its grand beginnings, water gardening can be fitted to many different places and spaces. An in-ground pool or a small watertight tub on a patio can hold an assortment of aquatic plants, such as arrowheads, papyrus, and brightly blooming water lilies. A natural stream or pond affords many opportunities for planting everything from native cattails to exotic Japanese irises. Fountains, with their refreshing, melodious splashing sound, and birdbaths, with their accompanying wildlife, come in a wide variety of sizes and can fit even the smallest backyard.

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A waterwheel will add the interest of motion and the melodious, soothing sound of falling water to a garden scheme. This ornamental waterwheel feeds a winding, rock-lined stream, set in a perfect stretch of turf planted with flourishing hostas, ferns, and brightly blooming rhododendrons. Even a small stream will add beauty to the landscape and will also benefit plants by providing increased moisture at their roots.

In-ground basins and water fountains allow you to enjoy the benefits of water anywhere in your garden. In the next section, we'll explore in-ground basins and water fountain ideas.

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