I’ve wanted a pond since childhood and last summer, after taking early retirement as Professor of Architecture at Cardiff University, decided to bite the bullet and make one in my south-west-facing front garden – much to the initial bemusement of the neighbours! It’s in a single-sided close in Dinas Powys near Cardiff: the eight houses face a screen of conifers and are set a metre below the road – ideal for creating the feeling of a private outdoor room.
Along the boundary with the neighbour I designed a ‘Steel Cliff’ backed by a beech hedge. It consists of three layers of bent steel sheets, slotted and welded together on site: the geometry creates small ‘pocket gardens’ that have been planted with Sea Thrift, Creeping Thyme and sempervivums. The ‘Cliff’ rises sheer from the water and as the layers meet the slope they turn at right angles to run across as retaining walls for shallow planting terraces. I chose mild steel rather than Corten because the rust feels more natural and varied – and should still outlive me. The rich, earthy colours come alive in the sun and are a perfect foil to the green foliage and flickering shadows.