Water In Your Garden

Antique Cast Iron French FountainI am sure I own the most fabulous French antique fountain on American soil-take a look; do you not agree?  I detailed some time ago the process by which this incredibly beautiful piece came to me-but it is not the subject of this post.  As beautiful as it is, a fountain, any fountain, is a means by which to introduce and integrate water as a decorative element in the landscape.  I do such injustice to use the word decorative; what water does for a landscape is give and sustain life.  What water does for a gardener borders on the sublime.

Fisher Garden Con (16)In my early years designing, I never went near any suggestion of a fountain, pond, pool, or lotus pot.  I did believe anything of any importance in a garden sprang from the earth, and grew. Arranging for delightful water for a client was just over my head, and beyond my capability.  It is the sorry truth that a lot of things I thought early on about landscape design proved to be provincial, ill-informed, and shallow. Thank heavens the normal course of events is to grow up into something.  My age and history is a good thing. At some point I figured out that fountains were not the sole province of public parks and libraries; any home garden is all the better for water in some form.  This English iron fountain I placed a few years ago-I never tire of the look of this water in motion, the peaceful sound of it.    

Nemer 151This very regal cast iron fountain is of American manufacture, mid 19th century. This part alone enchants me.  Placing an American garden ornament of historical significance in an American garden was a good moment.  It looks even better when the water is moving over its surface.  Note the planting of creeping jenny around-water splash comes with the territory when water drops a long way.  Plan for plants that like this regular shower when water is being pumped to great height. 

dgwspring_0004No matter any history, or construction issues, water beautifully representing in the air is available to any gardener. This small English iron version of a classical tiered fountain has a lead basin just 5 feet in diameter. This fountain is installation friendly; take it home, set it up, and plug it in.  Three things are at issue in putting together a fountain.  You need a means by which the water gets airborn.  This could be a decorative piece like this one, any pot or sculpture which can be modified to convey water. A copper spout works fine. You need a pump of sufficient power, and the electricity to run that pump.

DSC_0025These gorgeous glazed ceramic jars have been outfitted by the manufacturer brilliantly-meaning, thoughtfully.  The  jar, a water reservoir , and a pump make it possible to take this complete water feature home, place it in a great spot, plug it in, and learn firsthand about what water in the air can do for a garden. The water moves so slowly that it cannot break the surface tension of the jar surface.  No splash means you might consider bringing it indoors for the winter.

June 22 006My 26 foot long by 4 foot wide fountain-a gift from my Mom.  It so irritated her that I never took any time off work-she made an issue of this, when she was alive.  What she left me enabled me to build this fountain.  I hear the sound of it when I get out of my car at the end of the day.  I get in it, to cool off, and scale back. I go and sit in its company every day.   I am on vacation-at home. Some days I just look at all that watery motion from the deck.  I can hear it when I get in bed.  The action of the water in my garden-better than very good. 

Aug 15 003Water once meant no more than a good drink for my plants.  From the looks of this, it should be easy to see how fountain water can make a garden a better place to be.  

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No matter the size, shape, scale or material, a fountain has great appeal.  It can organize a garden space that invites visitors. It also recalls those hot summer days when standing under the hose meant really living.      

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Water, anyone?

Finishing Touches

aug_7aa_007You may remember my post from July 21, Renovation Part II, a discussion of what finishing touches were yet to come in this project.   If you missed that, I will recap.  This beautiful Mediterranean house was in need of a landscape renovation; the new owner is a designer herself, and what she had, she knew would not do.
I did like the U-shape of brick here, although it seemed too small, and had been installed without attending to the grade issues first. That idea was the one thing worth saving.

dsc_0003We removed all the plants, and brick, and graded out to the edge of the house; it is too awkward to step down in the middle of a terrace.  In other words, we started over.

july2_020The new and larger granite and brick terrace stepped down into the lawn; a new stucco wall made for extra seating for guests, and made the suggestion of enclosure.

may_10_006The new rear yard landscape made much of the repaired and repainted stucco wall .  A grove of trees in the lawn, a formal arrangement of trees mulched in granite, and grass.  Simple and striking.

may_10_012But what else did this landscape need in the way of finishing touches?  Inspired by the Spanish flavor of the architecture, I thought some ironwork might be in order.july21_064

One iron pergola would have been a little overpowering.  Two smaller matching iron pergolas, which would eventually support grape vines, seemed like a great way to warm up the space, and give that terrace a more room-like feeling.

july22_025I especially like how the terrace will have two shady cool areas, with a sunny space in between them.   

aug_6a_002Finishing touches like this can make all the difference in the world; this space looks inviting and comfortable.  A place to have dinner, a place to read in the shade, a place to entertain-all good things to plan for.

aug_6a_008The last touch – a self-contained fountain jar.  The reservoir to recirculate the water was installed underground.  My client opted for a water jet barely visible. Lighting was unobtrusively installed in the pergola roof, illuminating the fountain at night.   I can imagine how it will look and sound once there are grapes overhead. 

aug_6a_004A new umbrella is on the way. Maybe there will be holiday lights this winter.  Maybe next summer there will be some pots.  The finishing touches phase transforms the designed landscape into a landscape for living.