Friday, March 5, 2010

You can't have too many fountains

 

I have a thing for fountains and other water sources. Maybe living in a summer-dry climate will do that to you.

In the back, I have the wine barrel (above), the large fountain inherited from the previous owners, the hanging fountain, the saucer with sand, the succulent fountain, and the new fountain I got for Christmas. This fountain has a small solar panel included in the bowl, so a small spray adds some sound and movement to attract birds when the sun shines into the bowl.

 

"Clean water, waterplants, sound. Pick one" said one of my garden design teachers. She's probably right, but she meant "Pick one per fountain," so I have a few of them.  And some are just for the birds. 

 

The front garden, regrettably, only had the saucer fountain. The larger, more daring birds were content enough. But I felt that the front garden was crying out for more water sources. So, I came up with a clever plan and did some prep work. Then, on one of those rare days of sunshine, I called my good friend and garden designer Chris to help me. "Bring a level, please," I said. "Oh, I have three different ones," she said. And that was a good thing...

I started bringing the materials to the front. I had a large pot with the holes sealed. I'd used that pot already in the back garden, where the Christmas fountain now is, but my plans this time were more artistic. And we know when I think artistic, I think "Blue Spray Paint".


Yes, I still have plenty left from that other beautification project. So I painted the big blue pot on the inside.
 

And a smaller black pot from the outside. 


I also had a nice collection of leftover flagstones.


And a small solar pump that I had ordered from BestNest.com.


After we had chosen the perfect spot, the first and most important part of the job was to create a level surface.  We removed the woodchips carefully, and then removed some dirt. Then I brought all rocky and sandy materials -- some lava rock, some sand, some gravel -- and Chris created the level surface. 

 
It involved a lot of stepping, testing with the level, moving the small rocks and sand, testing again, moving some more rocks, and testing once more. In all directions. 

I spent my time meanwhile  finding places to put the dirt, and was also sent to the garden center for another 1/2 bag of coarse sand. We used that sand and three flagstones to make a base for the fountain. 


OK, here we come to the "don't trust the pictures" part of this report. We later decided we needed the flagstones, removed them, and made the base with 4 square pavers I had. And sand. Again, Chris used here level to make sure we had an even surface. And I, being busy with other things, did not take another picture.

Then came the fun and difficult part. I envisioned a structure that was solid enough to hold up and remain level, but that also looked a little fragile and airy. So, imagine us spending quite a bit of time trying to fit the flagstones, which are by nature not level, on top of each other. Chris used sand to add extra height where needed. We also chipped away some pieces, it's easier to fill a small hole with sand than to compensate for a ledge. 

When everything looked level, I lifted the large pot on top. Then I put the pump in and lifted the small pot, upside down, into the large pot. We moved the solar panel to a sunny spot and -- there it was!


The front fountain, ready to delight visitors and, we hope, birds and other critters.  

 

P.S. No racoons, please! I might be left with just the shards if a racoon stopped by and decided to search the bowl for tasty treats. But we can always hope it's too close to the door for racoon comfort. 

14 comments:

Benjamin Vogt said...

Nope, can't have too many! I put one out this winter for the first time, heated, and saw birds I've never seen before. In the summer, robins come and bathe in my fountain. Lovely!

Kimberly said...

Town Mouse, I completely agree...never too many fountains. AND your front entry fountain is wonderful! I love the bright blue color and the artful stone pedestal. Very cool!! This is something I can do...and I thing I have to! Thanks so much for the great idea!

MyPlant said...

I loved seeing the name Country Mouse it brought back memories of being read that story as a child. Saw your comment on James's blog about my Ceanothus Tuxedo. Such a small world and you were right about the Ribes and garrya eliptica.

Pat

Randy Emmitt said...

Very cute fountains, the new one is beautifully done.

I have a 3 barrel one on the porch I need to move into the garden.

Country Mouse said...

TMouse - what about the water? You didn't mention that part! I'd also like to know more about solar pumps. You keep encouraging me to put in a fountain and I'm feeling encouraged by your post - looks easy!

Pat, nice of you to visit our blog! Have you heard of Lester Rowntree? She was a transplanted Englishwoman who collected seeds all over California for use in gardens. Her writing is delightful - I did a couple posts on her May of 2009 (clicking the label "country mouse special" gets you there pretty fast if you're curious).

Christine said...

Blue spray paint- hilarious! Yet effective! It looks great and the stacked flagstones give a wonderful Andy Goldsworthy-ness to it. I'll have to take notes and get on to making one myself!

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I wholeheartedly agree! I love water in the garden. We haven't made it that far here yet, but hope to add something in the garden near the patio in the near future. I love your blue fountain, very creative!

Susan Morrison said...

I love it! Also love the conflict of needing it to be solid but wanting it to look airy. That's exactly the kind of thing I say to contractors - who generally respond with dirty looks.

Like C Mouse I'm curious about the solar pump. Does it generate enough power to run the fountain continuously or only when it's sunny? How much splash do you get vs. a traditional pump?

NellJean said...

I'm wild about water in the garden. Unfortunately, so is Buffy the Dog, who chewed my floating solar fountain -- it's tucked away until Buffy learns manners.

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Love this post, Ms.Mouse, and love your fountains!

Carol said...

I love the low front garden bird bath... it blends in so well with the surroundings... all of your water features are lovely and I must add more myself.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

Oh, you've combined two of my favourite things--water and blue pots--into a lovely fountain. I'm with others who agree, never can have too many fountains. I have a lovely copper one that I run in my office when I'm feeling stressed and it just makes everything better. You've inspired me to try something like this, though!

Town Mouse said...

How much solar fountain spray you get depends on the size of the fountain and on how high the water needs to go. For this fountain, the spay is small and the solar panel tiny. For the fountain in the back, the panel is big and it pumps the water up 2 feed, with a very nice gush down the front.

Yes, they only work when it's sunny. Mr. Mouse had actually fit two with controllers and batteries, but the controllers were of very low quality and burned out easily, and after 5 or so replacements, we gave up.

The birds don't seem to mind that it's only spraying when sunny, they remember the water is there.

lostlandscape (James) said...

Nice project--I especially like the slightly irregular spray pattern from the paint. It looks very ceramic glazey in effect. And your second water feture in front of the bamboo fence just has a great vibe.