A first for Scot­land as shop for un­der­wa­ter gar­den­ing opens

Store is first in the coun­try ded­i­cated to the Ja­panese art of aquas­cap­ing

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - BLAIR DINGWALL bd­ing­[email protected]­courier.co.uk

A Courier Coun­try duo have opened up Scot­land’s first shop ded­i­cated to an un­der­wa­ter art form.

Rowan Woods and James Rich­mond opened the doors of The Aquatic Gar­dens, which spe­cialises in aquas­cap­ing, on Cas­tle Street, Tayport.

Mr Woods said he turned to the art form – which is es­sen­tially un­der­wa­ter gar­den­ing – as a means of cop­ing with de­pres­sion and sea­sonal af­fec­tive dis­or­der fol­low­ing the death of his orig­i­nal busi­ness part­ner and best friend, Con­nor Craig, in March 2016.

The Dun­can of Jor­dan­stone Col­lege of Art and De­sign stu­dent died aged 23.

Aquas­cap­ing is the craft of ar­rang­ing aquatic plants, rocks, stones, cave work and drift­wood in an aquar­ium, giv­ing fish a nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, free of plas­tic or­na­ments, to thrive in.

The art form started in Ja­pan and has be­come in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar across the UK.

The Aquatic Gar­dens in Tayport is the first shop of its kind in Scot­land and sells all the plants, tools and sup­plies needed for those who are in­volved in the prac­tice, or would like to get started.

Mr Woods and Mr Rich­mond pre­vi­ously ran a pet sup­plies store in Dundee.

Mr Woods said: “Aquas­cap­ing has be­come quite pop­u­lar in the UK.

“I find it ther­a­peu­tic. I suf­fer from sea­sonal af­fec­tive dis­or­der, and there has been a lot of doc­u­men­ta­tion about the ther­a­peu­tic ef­fects of aquar­i­ums.

“When we started out as a pet sup­ply shop, we got more and more in­ter­ested in aquas­cap­ing. Peo­ple are tend­ing to lean to­wards re­ally nat­u­ral-look­ing aquar­i­ums, more nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments.

“It is much more ther­a­peu­tic to see an an­i­mal in its nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

“We don’t use as many chem­i­cals. It is all about a closed sys­tem us­ing the nat­u­ral world as an in­spi­ra­tion. We don’t have plas­tic plants – we use real, nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments.

“It is an art form. You cre­ate con­tained ecosys­tems where the plants are happy and the fish are happy.

“You don’t have to do as much as you would in a nor­mal aquar­ium. You can go a month without a wa­ter change.

“Con­nor and I started the busi­ness, and a pic­ture of him will be up in the shop. He was my best friend.

“Aquas­cap­ing helps me to re­move my­self from the stresses of the mod­ern world. It is an es­cape, a very good es­cape. My work is what keeps me sane.

“Con­nor used to al­ways tell me to do what I en­joy.”

The shop of­fi­cially opened on Satur­day, with the com­mu­nity in­vited along to view a 6ft aquas­cape ex­hi­bi­tion, de­pict­ing the Tentsmuir coast­line, which was spe­cially made to mark the oc­ca­sion.

The de­tails of the first ever Scot­tish aquas­cap­ing com­pe­ti­tion were re­vealed at the event, which also saw two work­shops take place.

It helps me to re­move my­self from the stresses of mod­ern life. It is an es­cape, a very good es­cape. My work keeps me sane

Pic­ture: Mhairi Ed­wards.

James Rich­mond, left, and Rowan Woods hope to help oth­ers dis­cover the Ja­panese art form.

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