July 2008 Aquascape of the Month______________________________________________Silence, ça pousseby Dimitri Roger INTRODUCTION[float_left] [/float_left] My real name is Dimitri Roger. I live in a small town near Orleans, in France. I am 30 years old and I’m a “young manager” in the agro-alimentary industry. Because I like plants and gardens, it is logical for me to form aquatic gardens in my tanks. I have been creating planted aquariums for the last four years. I bought a 250 liter tank when I purchased my house in 2004. I am moderator of the sections referring to "planted tanks" on the French forum Aquagora and we organize every year the CAPA (a French planted tanks competition). It is a great pleasure to share this passion. Indeed, over the years I have been able to develop many friendships, and I take this opportunity to warmly welcome all these people (who recognize me). On the web, my nickname is Kookaburra. It’s the name of an Australian bird, and also the name of a French comic book. I create planted tanks to bring a bit of "nature" in my house. The European houses do not lend themselves too much to the establishment of Green plants (well, we cannot create garden "jungles"). So I had to find a way to introduce as many plants as possible into my house. Since my youngest age, I have always loved plants. I remember when I was little helping my father with his outdoor garden. We had to select good plants, and maintain them throughout the year. My own garden quickly became too small for my gardening passion. I see aquariums an additional means to satisfy this passion for plants and gardening. [float_right] [/float_right] The term "water garden" suits me perfectly and is really the vision that I have of planted tanks. Water gardens are a way of designing a landscape of plants in a confined space, while trying to achieve a smooth and pleasant planting layout to view. I have a special attraction for gardens that are very structured, where you sense the gardener's artistic mastery over plants. AQUASCAPING INSPIRATION My inspiration sources are from the “Dutch Style”, and what we call “les jardins à la francaise”. “French style” gardens are a specific type of terrestrial gardens, with a very strict organization of plantings. One of the more famous French garden style is the garden at the Château de Versailles. I truly like these kind of gardens, with various structured geometric forms and great contrast of colors. With my aquascape, I wanted to make an aquascaping layout using the “V”shape in the background. In order to create contrast, I composed another “V” (but inversed) with Glossostigma elatinoides in the foreground. Together the purpose of this was to make the two sides of the planting appear to be symmetric. So I name this aquascape Silence, ça pousse. In English this means "Silence, it grows". [float_right] [/float_right] It is also the name of a famous French television program, which speaks of plants and terrestrial gardens. The title reflects the patience it takes to make planted tanks. AQUASCAPING TECHNIQUES Let me explain why I decided to create the “perfect symmetry” that is seen in my aquascape. I did it to surprise the viewers, who are used to viewing the common “golden ratio” layout representation of aquascapes. I wanted to create something different. This geometric scape corresponds well to my intention of making an aquatic “French style” garden. I would like to say that I didn't use driftwood or rocks in this aquascape not by “choice”, but rather by “limitation." In fact, I made this tank in 2004, and in this time it’s very difficult to find some good-looking driftwood or rocks in “aquarium market” in France! Nowadays, it's getting easier... Plant Selection and Trimming I choose plants in order to maximize the contrast in tank, much like the beautiful display found in an explosion of fireworks. In this method, finding a good location for the plant groups was my first challenge. [float_right] [/float_right] Although this is very complicated in nearly any style of planted tanks, I think it is much harder to do in this kind of densely planted tank with a lot of colored plants. I have to consider the different shapes of leafs, the arrangement of the colors and the potential growth patterns of the plants. The trimming method is inspired by the trimming of Boxwood Hedges in French Gardens. Gardeners usually shape them into round balls. So I applied the same method to create a dense and compact ball of plants. I trimming these plants regularly to get the final sized I desire. Click here to view Tank SpecificationsClick here to view Plant and Fauna List GREATEST CHALLENGES Besides finding arranging my plants into perfect, blended groupings, another challenge for me was to catch the most suitable time to take the best photo of the tank. Because of the large diversity of growth patterns of different plant groups it was hard to have all my plants in good shape at the same time for the best photo. FINAL THOUGHTS, ADVICE, AND THE FUTURE After this aquascape, I want to try some others styles of aquascaping. This in my first aquascape and I have to progress because there is lots more to learn from. So, when I attempt to create a Nature Style Planted tank or a Dutch aquarium, I will learn new methods that I will try to recreate in my own view of aquascaping. I think opening the mind to the other aquascaping styles besides your favorite style of aquascaping is the best way to progress in this hobby. Open your mind to the other people, ask yourself about what they do and why they do it. You will have a more complete comprehension of Planted Tanks and what you can artistically achieve. The Web is an inexhaustible source of information and contact. You can see many Planted Tanks, which will inspire you and help you find your own style and your way of doing things. You can also find good advice on the best ways to maintain your tanks. Without healthy aquatic plants, your layout can never be complete. For myself, I still do planted tanks, and I do not plant to stop anytime soon. I found great pleasure in this hobby, and this is ultimately all that matters to me!