Gardening Teamwork

What do you get when a lawyer, world traveler, plantsman, and surf photographer walk into a garden?  A fountain.  No joke.  Here's how it unfolds.

During our 4th Annual Garden Party, a husband [lawyer] and wife [world traveler] stated their goal of planning a garden next to their new barn. They liked using plants from Wildwood within the limitations of zero shade and heavy deer traffic.  Before they started planting, they wanted to build a  fountain.  Did we have any ideas?

I suggested two local statuary stores. In my mind, the word fountain conjures up images of tall, formal, tiered, classic water features.  They frowned, mumbled and the wife asked about something a little more in tune with a California aesthetic.  I asked for an example and the husband pointed out a stone water feature we have at Wildwood.  Visual examples are an important part of establishing a concept.

The Wildwood water feature gets its name from the 300lb centerpiece.  I harvested this rock from the fields around the nursery and drilled a 5/8" hole in the center.  Jon [the surf photographer] stretched out a pond liner and we lowered the rock onto blocks.  Jon used more blocks to create a triangular wall, filled it with water, and plugged in a pump that spills water over the sides of the centerpiece.  The level of the rock is such that half the rock is wet and half is dry.  The Yin Yang Fountain.  Trust a surf photographer to know water.

This story motivated the lawyer to get on his tractor and harvest rocks from his hillside.  I visited the property for a rock consultation.  Of course, they wanted a bigger fountain than the Ying Yang Fountain.  They wanted to drill vertically through 36" rocks to create a taller spillover effect.  That would be easy for Rio Tinto to do at one of their mines but not in a backyard.  The lawyer suggested sandwiching a pipe between two matching rocks to create an illusion.

However, rocks don't match. If you find two twin rocks, buy a lottery ticket.  The final centerpiece is the result of lots of cutting and underwater blocking.  There are actually five rocks that make up a six foot wide and four foot tall centerpiece.  Water plants complete the disguise.

The wife decided an irregular shaped exterior wall would look better than a formal square or oval.  Containing water is tricky because it looks for weak spots.  Framing and fortifying an organic edge requires the flexibility of cinder blocks and bender board to hold concrete.  The surf photographer created a half oval, concave teardrop shaped wall that is pure genius.

The world traveler found a reddish brown thin flagstone that matches the rock from their property.   The flagstone cap is the only flat linear surface on the entire fountain.  It simultaneously frames the centerpiece and the dry stack rock wall while paralleling the water level.

The fountain could stand on its own with no embellishment.  Plants are the feather in the cap for the whole project.  A tall thin papyrus, wide leafed Tropicanna Canna, and low grasses break up some of the 'weight' of all the stone.  They play nicely with the plants that are outside the fountain.

Teamwork is like gardening.  It's not what plants one decides to grow.  It is the combination of plants that creates a garden. A lawyer, world traveler, surf photographer, and plantsman make a pretty cool combination.