The Record - Hackensack, NJ
They went with the flow

July 16, 2004

WHAT: Parade of Ponds.

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Private homes in Bergen, Passaic, and Rockland counties. Tickets available today at Landscape Perceptions, 130 Ryerson Ave., Suite 301, Wayne, (973) 694-6545; Saturday and Sunday at 62 Pine St., Ramsey.

HOW MUCH: $12.

The property was smothered in trees, with a sprinkling of rock and a stagnant pool, before David Delardi worked his magic.

Instead of a wand, he used imagination and expertise. Nature was his inspiration.

Now, from the deck of their French colonial home in Saddle River, the Provost family enjoys a waterfall gushing from rocks to feed a stream that flows under a bridge and down a miniature valley.

The backyard waterscape is just one of 29 on a tour of ponds Saturday and Sunday in North Jersey and Rockland County. The annual event is sponsored by Landscape Perceptions in Wayne to benefit the Felician School for Exceptional Children in Lodi.

The Provost property has three water features, including a small bubbler pond with water rising out of lava rocks by the swimming pool and a waterfall and pond to greet visitors at the front of the house. The total cost of pond installation and landscaping was $200,000.

"The challenge with water features is trying to re-create nature," said Delardi, walking across the rustic wooden bridge he designed to blend in with the surrounding stone. "I spend a lot of time walking in the wilderness trying to understand how water moves around rocks."

It took 10 tractor-trailer loads of rock, pond liners, two pumps, and plants such as sedges and water lilies to paint the natural-looking picture in the largest of the Provosts' three waterscapes.

"We have to make sure this is a balanced ecosystem so we don't get a huge buildup of string algae," Delardi said. "We do that by adding the right plants, fish, and trees that provide a canopy and create filtered light for the pond."

Laurie Provost, who helped design the smaller water features, loves the tranquility of the falls.

"I'm a Pisces. I need to be by water," she said.

She's got plenty of company.

"Garden ponds are extremely popular," said Delardi, who designs about 10 a year and will hop from site to site over the weekend answering questions about his creations. "People love water because it gives a feeling of richness, youthfulness, and cleansing. The sound of running water has a calming effect, and it's a real eye-catcher in a back yard."

A few streets away at the Foley residence, also in Saddle River and on the tour, the waterscape blends with the nearby European-style deck and a natural forest that serves as a backdrop.

"This is five years old now, and the plantings are really starting to come into their own," said Delardi, standing on a stone patio beside the pond.

The result is a colorful display of Japanese water irises, tropical and hard water lilies, sedge grasses, and water lettuce flourishing among strategically placed limestone rocks. A large waterfall spills into a small pond that is home to koi and golden orfe fish.

It was three years ago that Pompton Lakes resident Claire Baughman traded her swimming pool for a garden pond. Now she has two waterfalls and a sea of plants under a huge dogwood tree off her patio.

"It's so gorgeous in the spring when the tree goes into bloom and all the plantings start to come up," said Baughman, whose pond is one of four on the Passaic County portion of the tour. The water feature is so spectacular, in fact, that neighbors use it as a setting for prom photos.

"I came home one day last week and there were 50 people in my yard taking photos. The neighbors had told their friends about my pond," Baughman said. "I didn't mind. I'm glad to share it."
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