Home & Design

Circle of Life

A scenic water feature enriches a bucolic riverfront property in Virginia’s Tidewater region

The renovation of a 19th-century estate in Tidewater, Virginia, wasn’t complete without the overhaul of its pastoral 30-acre property, which encompasses five miles of shoreline along the Rappahannock River. The extensive landscape plan included gardens, terraces, arrival sequences—and a picturesque pond. “The owners were not interested in swimming,” recounts Eric Groft, FASLA, of OvS, who spearheaded the project, “but they liked the idea of water as part of the landscape.”

Inspired by the celebrated scenery at Monticello, Groft designed a 30-by-40-foot lily pond, which is nestled among pebble pathways and ornamental gardens mixing cultivars and native species. Just beyond, a 15-acre barley field stretches away to the riverfront.

The semi-circular pond is contained in a 23-inch-deep concrete shell with built-in planters that support lotus plants and lilies; openings in the planters allow water to flow in and out. As a bonus, the pond attracts all manner of aquatic life, from fish to frogs. Says Groft, “Such a feature in an agrarian area—it creates its own ecology.”

Landscape Architecture: Eric Groft, FASLA, OvS, Washington, DC.

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