GETTING A POOL RIGHT
So often nowadays we see swimming pools simply dropped into the middle of a lawn; around it are a few chairs and tables and umbrellas, all just set down randomly upon that damp and buggy expanse of green that has to be watered every night in high summer. If you forget to bring in the cushions and towels at the end of the day, well no one's going to enjoy that pool tomorrow. I hadn't intended this post to be a treatise on how a swimming pool should be planned, but why not?
I had a client recently who wanted nothing around the pool but open space and green grass, because, he felt, that's what the pool experience is, sunshine and more endless sunshine. I did everything I could to convince him that a pool in stark sunlight with no refuge from the glare and heat quickly becomes a no man's land, forbidding, abandoned and forgotten.
Certainly a pool wants the sun on its surface; it describes the season, it invites us to partake of its joys, it reaffirms the blissful pleasure of summer leisure.
But you can enjoy that sunny beauty on the water's surface without having to be in the sun yourself.
Here, in the Mediterranean, it's hot on a summer's day. These indigenous plants along the edge of my pool terrace thrive in that sunny heat. But do we?
The pergola was invented for a reason. People will be building such structures in benevolent climates as long as the sun continues to shine.
Let me point out that this pergola here at my pool in Massa Macinaia has no vegetation covering it. One might think that an odd decision to have been made by someone so interested in the garden and its plants, but there's a reason for it. When you have vegetation overhead you have to contend with its constant droppings. And another thing here: notice that the slats have gaps between them. A pergola should filter out most of the light but not all. A totally dark pergola can be winter bleak, and it wouldn't have these wonderful linear shadows, the evocative light pattern that speaks of a seaside experience.
But for those who want a proper sun bath, we of course make provisions. And if you've suddenly had enough, well then just crank up that umbrella.
And when you've had enough of the whole thing it's nice to have a house like this nearby for its cool kitchen and for an air conditioned nap.
It's called Al Pastore, our summer guest house (not offered for rent), and it's just steps away from the water's edge.
In its garden just now is the extraordinary California poppy, Romneya coultri.