Unconventional? Maybe. Unique? Definitely; and oh so loved and trusted by all of his clients. This artist, Norman Tharpe, is storming your area.
Imagine a refreshing waterfall splashing down into a glorious clear-water pond filled with colorful fish varying in size from four to even twenty-four inch lengths. Fish that are pets; that often even surface and eat out of your hand. Then imagine this pond emptying into a serpentine, cascading watercourse, stream or babbling brook in your yard.This man takes water where it has never gone before. He’ll take a barren patch of land and make it an oasis. Create a breath taking center-piece waterfall in a forgotten hillside and a stream to make you go “Ahhhh” stretching from one end of your property to the other.
If it looks natural like it has been there forever; if it makes you feel like you never want to leave it, it’s probably a Norman Tharpe Original. “I have always loved working with water” says Tharpe. I really feel that the unique way I design and install these water gardens is a God-given talent. But with that God-given talent, one has to acknowledge and appreciate the enormous amount of research and study he has applied himself to, that makes his work both unquestionable beautiful and enduring.
You’re not likely to find cement or mortar bases used here. Such bases may eventually attract lime build up that ultimately harm or kill the fish. They are also inflexible so they may crack and leak after weather changes costing you dearly. Neither are you likely to find pre-formed fiber glass, ceramic or even fiberglass tubs used in a Tharpe Original.
Tharpe feels it is most important to find out what his customers have in mind first; how they plan to enjoy their garden and what they like best about other gardens he shows them. Then, with all of this in mind, he comes up with a design he really believes they’ll love; but is always willing to alter it to match their dream. The addition of nightscaping using low-voltage lighting makes many of these gardens enjoyed as much at night as they are in the day.
Tharpe’s designs utilize a protective base covered with a 45 to 60 millimeter rubber liner. He then painstakingly hand lays each stone in its new niche and angles it to ensure optimum water flow. As with most artists, what is obvious to Tharpe, is not always obvious to everyone else. Hence the unbelievable speed with which he installs each masterpiece. Most water garden installers would need months to accomplish what Tharpe does in three to ten days.
From Old English styled lighted plant scapes with cobble stone creekbeds – and from the well evolved Japanese styled, koi filled, bridged pond courses – to the most formal, meticulously plant and light scaped statue-watched fountain ponds, he designs what fits your lifestyle. If you’re like me, you might simply want the down to earth, nature clad, park-like waterfall and stream.

Excerpted from an article in Lynchburg Virginia Homeowner’s Magazine by Oleta (Lee) Taylor