Gardens provide an ideal space for escaping from the daily grind and can help to reflect our personalities in the confines of the home. So why not go wild and unleash your inner eccentric with a truly extravagant outdoor feature?
A certain Tory MP might have landed in hot water over his floating duck island claimed on parliamentary expenses. However, they can provide an ideal haven from slightly chillier waters for your feathery, webbed-footed friends. It only really works, of course, if you already have a substantial body of water in your garden. Not to mention at least one duck.
Gazebos come in all shapes and sizes. There are tiered pagodas, domed rotundas and angular rustic structures made from recycled or rough-hewn wood. They all offer some degree of protection from the elements as well as providing a talking point when a party spills out of the kitchen and onto the lawn. You might not have enough space for one that can serve as a bandstand but there’s something of the extravagant in even the humblest of gazebos.
Water features can range from the subtle and naturalistic look of a calming artificial spring to a full-scale fountain complete with water-spurting gargoyles. Most are self-contained, drawing water from a pond or hidden reservoir and solar power can often be used to provide some or all of the energy required. A replica of the Manneken Pis (or peeing boy statue in Brussels) can be a humorously risqué addition to your garden, but for maximum extravagance we recommend a brightly lit fountain with the water display synchronised to music.
In the UK we’re not exactly blessed with the optimum climate for outdoor swimming pools – at least not unheated ones. An outdoor hot tub provides a luxurious way to stay both wet and warm in the garden and can be a wonderful way to relax and unwind. Swim spas combine the benefits of a hot tub with the exercise of swimming and all in a fraction of the space required for a swimming pool. Like a watery version of a treadmill or exercise bike, a swim spa allows you to swim on the spot by pumping out a tide of water at the pace and strength you require.
It’s not exactly a fancy shed or a grown-up wendy house, although summerhouses can have elements of both. It’s a home from home at the bottom of the garden and it can come in the shape of a treehouse, a cosy octagonal love-nest or even a futuristic rotating sphere. As garden features go, it’s certainly extravagant.
Make sure you check your contents insurance if you are planning on putting in any extra features into your garden to ensure you have adequate cover in the event of burglary or damage.