A Japanese water garden
Amateur Gardening|September 05, 2020
Creating an oriental-style idyll with harmonising water features has truly been a labour of love for Dorset couple Terry and Dawn Heaver, as Sue Bradley discovers…
Sue Bradley

VISITS to one of the UK’s most famous Japanese-style gardens left Terry Heaver with more than just happy memories — he had to have one, too.

Trips to Compton Acres in Poole, Dorset, inspired him to overhaul the space behind his own home. He created a pond the size of a tennis court surrounded by a dazzling collection of trees and shrubs chosen for the colour and shape of their foliage, all of which cast stunning reflections in the water.

Some 100 tonnes of Purbeck stone, plus structures such as a torii gate, a pagoda and granite storm lanterns, went on to complete the garden’s Japanese theme, with Terry carrying out all the landscaping work in his spare time, helped by his wife Dawn and other members of his family.

“I have always had ponds, but when we moved here my mother-in-law took us to the Japanese water garden at Compton Acres and when I saw it I thought… that’s what I’m having in my garden,” laughs Terry.

“Until then, our garden consisted of three large pine trees and grass. I had it all in my head what I wanted to do. “The pond went in first: it took a week to dig it out and I decided to make it an irregular, organic shape. We put in underground pipes to feed the pond with water from the roof of our bungalow. All the soil we dug out was used to make beds for plants.

Problems with sandy soil

“The pond is lined with a 100x50ft (30x15m) rubber liner that was delivered on a roll. Laying the liner took a whole day: we couldn’t afford any crinkles.”

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