The Power of Water - Part 1

As the waters continue to envelope us with storm after storm, we take a look at the importance of ponds as the first in a multi-part series on the 'Power of Water'

Water seems to be the theme for the UK this year. We had a wet summer and numerous named storms later we are having a water logged Autumn. According to the Royal Meteorological Society (try saying that after a few), there has been a gradual increase in heavy rainfall across the UK in recent decades. For the most recent decade (2013–2022) UK winters have been 10% wetter than 1991–2020 and 25% wetter than 1961–1990, with smaller changes for spring, summer and autumn overall. Rainfall is not likely to diminish soon so it might be time to think about how we harness it - with ponds and streams, and for biodiversity, wildlife and renewable energy. In Part 1 of this series we look at some interesting new pond action.

LettsSafari was recently invited to visit Cornwall Services, a new service station and hotel just off the A30 at Bodmin Moor. You might well be asking what this has to do with LettsSafari - and so did we when we were first approached! But when we got there we discovered a masterpiece of smaller-scale rewilding and a model for commercial and residential developments across the country. SEE VIDEO ABOVE.

This small, 1 acre wild haven is rich with wildlife, wild shrubs and grasses

They have developed and subsequently nurtured a small 1 acre wild haven that surrounds a pond dug out to move soil so the developers could create a raised bank for the hotel’s rear terrace. Following this the area was enclosed and reeds were planted around the edges of an oval pond they fashioned from the dug out space - wild scrub and trees were allowed to form naturally around the pond. A few years later the result is a dynamic and biodiverse, rewilded waterway with its stunning mini bowl-like haven for birds, small mammals and numerous insects. Wind turbines add an extra eco dimension that somehow blends in with this new space.

Nature is bursting in this small space with a wind turbine hovering above

It reminded us of a grander and more celebrated pond and garden established at the small 1.5 acre sculpture garden at the back of Hauser and Wirth in Bruton, Somerset. The garden was designed just a few years ago by internationally renowned landscape architect Piet Oudolf - famous for his wild grass structures. The man-made pond is today brimming with reeds and water life.

Reeds are everywhere!

The surrounding wild grasses, wild herbs and plants provide a mesmerising mini-garden for wildlife and humans to relax and enjoy its surroundings.

One of Piet Oudolf’s more recent creations

It, in turn reminded us of the miniature Japanese gardens in Holland Park in London which we reported from this summer.

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Perhaps the most exciting aspect of these remarkable new projects is that any of us can recreate them in miniature in our gardens or community spaces. A natural pond could be dug out with a just spade or two - a pond not more than 2 metres wide and half a metre deep could make quite a difference. Use the soil dug out to create a new mound or a bank next to the pond. Planting some reeds around the edge and surrounding it with small, wild plants and shrubs will make all the difference. You might be surprised by what will appear in this small space in just a few years.

Create your own mini water haven - they’ll love you for it!


The hillside lake (yes, it is possible to place a 1 acre lake on a steep hill) at LettsSafari’s Capability Brown gardens in Exeter is surrounded by an extraordinary selection of reeds, ferns, trees and flowering shrub - with a covered walkway all around this stunning lake. The Lakehouse hovers above the lake - a haven for wildlife lovers, bird watchers and those escaping the city.

This hillside lake is constantly fed by a stream above

And, of course, the greatest power of water lies in the after effects of the storms that bring it! The pot of gold lies somewhere at the bottom of Exeter’s Capability Brown gardens…

No Photoshop needed here!

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