Before construction there were arable fields going back hundreds of years but careful design has ensured effectively an exchange of one kind of countryside for another, with the landscaping providing a surround in sympathy with the Lake. Its woodland shelter belts with intervening grassland and vistas, including one of Windsor Castle through the 'Millennium Lime Avenue', and wildflower meadows provide a home for increasing numbers of other flora and fauna (see Environment).
Over 30,000 trees have been planted in the Park and Arboretum. Most trees are native species but there are some 'exotics'. Old Etonians and many other people have donated trees, some to mark special occasions and some in commemoration of family members and friends. A database is held of all Dorney Lake's trees including those presented.
Fascinating features include a sculpture and a stone circle with armillary sphere and sundial (see right). The circle and sphere were presented to Dorney Lake in 2005 by Eton Aggregates, the consortium of gravel-extracting companies involved in construction over the previous 10 years.
Tim Card gave all his working life to Eton, as an assistant master at the school for 33 years and subsequently as Vice-Provost from 1988 until his retirement in 1999
He had a wide knowledge of trees, plants and shrubs. The hornbeams beneath which every visitor to Eton now passes were planted at his instigation to replace ailing limes. His parting gift to the school was a water sculpture of modern design, and the purpose of his last visit, just before his death, was to advise on the landscaping of trees beside the Rowing Lake at Dorney.
This memorial (see photo, right) funded by old Etonians, pays respect to Tim for all his help in the creation of the Arboretum where it is appropriately sited.
Eton scholars devised a Latin inscription for the sphere:
Homines contra homines hic inter harenam acquamque saxumque sed omnes contra tempus contendunt
Translation: Men against men here amongst the sand and water and rock but all struggle against time.