Aquatic garden, with this name are referred to those gardens in which water, under whatever form, constitutes the basic element: therefore they are designed and built in its function and consequently have a strong prevalence of aquatic vegetation. or marsh.
Beyond instead from this definition, in general, those gardens in which water appears as a dominant motif in the form of fountains, basins, canals, for the obvious reason that in almost all parks, especially in past eras, it was used with regularity, as it has always been one of the most satisfied ornamental motifs for both architecture and nature. In ancient times, when the vastness of the garden was such that it was often composed of different zones joined together in a more or less homogeneous way, the aquatic garden was a part of the extension entirely devolved to the intended purposes; today such arrangement is not only no longer possible for smaller surfaces, but even it is no longer conceived since it tends to give the whole area a homogeneous approach. The aquatic gardens therefore remain only a creation of the past or, at the opposite extreme, a very modern realization that can cleverly exploit the elements that can be obtained to the maximum extent. This happens in the lake or mountain areas where streams and waterfalls are abundant and can be forced to become ponds and ponds; it happened also for a very daring work (and probably only one) like that “house on the waterfall” that the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright built in Pennsylvania in 1936 and that, all of a sudden, stretches like a huge trampoline from the rocks at the edge of which a waterfall falls. The solution of water, which sometimes even exceeds the emerged part, can be of great help when its elimination presents technical difficulties; it can also be an excellent solution because aquatic plants on average require less care than terrestrial plants, and also because, where the mild climate allows it (as in the case of our lakes area), it will provide a microclimate (see) moist in favor of many species whose delicacy requires, as well as a suitable temperature, a very strong environmental humidity. It is for this reason, for example, that one relatively high latitude like that of Lugano, we find in public gardens, at the edges of the lake and intersected by canals, ponds and waterways, plants that could never live in nearby places, even if located further south. Naturally, where there is an adequate water reserve, an aquatic garden can be built artificially, making tanks, ponds, streams, and waterfalls by means of hydraulic works that can also be made of synthetic materials for the smaller parts and, however, using modern techniques that greatly simplify the work. If this can happen in a sufficiently mild climate, the result can be amazing and create real semi-tropical corners that can bring the vegetation almost into the house, making it the ideal continuation. While once the water gardens almost always used rather formal ornamental works, such as balustrades, and not quite adequate vegetation that had the task of forming contrast rather than integrating the landscape, today we prefer a more natural environment and so usually only meadows, grasses or rocks frame the water, whether it is still or current; Rocky gardens underline torrents and waterfalls, and often the elements used are so rustic that they verge on romanticism and employ thin and slender trees to create certain opposing effects, reserving the large masses of vegetation to the total background of the landscape. Among the most decorative aquatic plants, a separate place must be reserved for Nymphaea who want stagnant water, but many other species can be successfully cultivated in every position, determining the height to be reached: from the outcropping Aponogeton distachyum to the slender flowering of the Iris pseudoacorus, from the light and disheveled Cyperus up to the rigid decoration of small groups of Typha.
The terrestrial vegetation will adapt, of course, to the natural environment and to the architecture of the house and can vary from bamboo groves to weeping willows, from quick birches to conifers. There are also many marsh or semi-aquatic plants that can embellish the banks with their flowers: we will mention among others the Mimulus luteus, the Iris sibirica and, splendid above all, the Zantedeschia aethiopica, well known and appreciated, with the name common of calla, for its plastic white flowers.