SHARING SECRETS: Water Features


A wall fountain anchors a cool and shady spot in Jim Bishop and Scott Borden’s garden.

Edited by Tina Ivany.


The sound of splashing water is especially refreshing on these hot summer days.  Do you have a favorite water feature in your garden?

Jim Bishop: This is our wall fountain.  It was built in 2003 to obscure part of the giant wall below our house.  A swimming pool was originally in this area, but we filled it in and built an outdoor room (casita) surrounded by a walled garden.  The fountain also drowns out the noise of the freeway located below the house.

Photo at night of the fountain that Karen and David England had long dreamed of having by their front door.

Karen England (Vista, CA 92084): My husband and I planned from day one in 2000, when we bought this house, for a fountain to go in this spot by our front door but it wasn’t until after he passed away in 2014 that I was able to finish the fountain project that he and I started. I am convinced he loves the fountain I chose and the way the finished project turned out. I say that proudly about the fountain because there are other projects that I finished in the wake of his death in ways he would not have liked or agreed to were he still here. Some projects I had to abandon altogether and the rest I finished in such a manner as to just be done with yet another unfinished project that was literally all around me. You can't win them all, even in grief, but with this fountain I hit a water feature home run and everyone who knew my husband agrees which makes the lovely sound of water sound even that much sweeter. When I turn the fountain on in the morning I do it for him as much as for me. 

Ken Kubarych’s rain chain water feature is cleverly installed in a backyard tree.

Ken Kubarych: I have hung three commercially available Rain Chains from backyard trees and created a recirculating water system that pumps water to the top of the Rain Chain.  This creates a continuous water flow down the Rain Chain, simulating a never ending falling of rain water the Rain Chain, making a lovely but not overpowering sound of falling water.


See and hear the continuous water flow down Ken’s rain chain.

Video credit: Ken Kubarych.


Form meets function in Steve Ilott’s Italian inspired fountain .

See Steve’s fountain in action at mid-day.

Video credit: Steve Ilott.

Steve Ilott (92037): I keep a sealed Italian pot filled with water next to my propagation tables.  It’s there to scoop with the watering can.  With delusions of grandeur I added the ruins of a poorly poured Italian Renaissance style water spout as a refill.  A hose bib timer is set for it to come on at noon for five minutes, marking mid day. 

Many SDHS members can relate: Gabrielle Ivany’s burbling fountain is a bird magnet.

Gabrielle Ivany (92128): I've had this small fountain in my back yard for many years.  Birds love it, from hummingbirds to finches to doves.  They come to drink and bathe (the bathing I'm not too thrilled with since the water gets dirty quicker).  But the splashing sound is very inviting.  I also have a bird bath, and that gets also used a lot. Now that the weather is so warm it's good to have a source of water for the birds.   

Marilyn Wilson: Marilyn Wilson has used a solar powered fountain for years.  Birds drink from it when no one is watching (they leave droppings to show they have been there).  It has to be cleaned fairly often, but it's worth it -- no thirsty birds in the garden.

Marlys Vespe: We have a fountain in our courtyard which many birds enjoy bathing in! Love watching them!

Leslie Nelson (92110): I have a Mediterranean style two-tiered fountain in my garden. Six small streams of water overflow the top tier and fall into the larger basin below creating a very pleasant, soothing sound. The goldfinches and hummingbirds are frequent visitors.

Gerald Stewart: Water features have been integral since the 1990s. The first was an urn with a copper watering can pouring water into it. Then came a traditional 3-tier fountain. Then an above ground pond formed by concrete cottage stones with a concrete fountain I bought 30 years before, in high school, that had never had water in it. That was followed by a larger above ground cottage stone pond that was about 2' deep so I could have water lilies, except it turned out waterlilies needed more square feet of surface than the pond had. Finally, in the early 2000s, a smaller pond that was shallow was made, in the same manner as the other two, so I could grow marginals. Then I started, by myself, caring for my father, followed by my mother, both with dementia. One by one the water features went out of service due to lack of maintenance. Last year the little pond was put in working order when some water plants arrived after waiting a year from order placement. In the last two months orders have been placed for more colorfully-foliaged water plants. I now have about 30 different colorfully-foliaged water plants. The big pond has been renovated and is full of the plants, including a miniature waterlily that will only get to 2' across. By the time this is published, two more miniatures should have arrived. Two of the waterlilies have purple leaf markings, and the third has splashes of white, pink, and purple. Water snowflakes have floating leaves and flowers like waterlilies. Two types of them have white flowers. Another has yellow flowers, which reminds me of the common comment about yellow snow. I know the Yellow Water Snowflake is going to entertain me, and, once we get through the pandemic, guests, when I spin the tale of the Yellow Water Snowflake. The fun of the water features, and pleasure of listening to the splashing water at sunset, are my favorite things about the water features.

Tina Ivany is happily retired from a career in IT and enjoys puttering in her drought-tolerant English Cottage style garden in Rancho Bernardo.

  

Our Mission  To inspire and educate the people of San Diego County to grow and enjoy plants, and to create beautiful, environmentally responsible gardens and landscapes.

 

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