Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Farmbrook Designs - Fountain

The addition of a fountain, depending on its design, can genuinely enhance your garden space, not just for you but for native birds, insects and other creatures.

My friend Chris Hopp, of Farmbrook Designs, does some beautiful fountains, including millstone, ball, birdbath and urn fountains.  I had known for a while that I wanted to have one of Chris's fountains but I didn't know which one; more importantly, I wasn't sure where I wanted to place it for maximum benefit in the garden.

I solved the first issue at the Franklin Garden Tour in 2010.  I was next to Chris and he had with him a gorgeous fountain design his Mom, Glenda, had done using a five-gallon plastic bucket as a mold.  After removing the hypertufa from the mold, Glenda had cut into it using a flat chisel, making an irregular surface over which the water would break in an ever-changing pattern.  I was - quite literally - mesmerized by the play of light over the water, as well as the soothing sounds as it bubbled up out of the fountain and spilled over the side.  I asked that it be adapted to have a shallow basin in which the water could pool (Chris has what he calls his "Bird Bath Fountain" which has this very same feature) so the birds could enjoy it as well.

I finally figured out the location issue this Spring.  I had toyed with placing it in the back of the garden, near the bench under the yew tree; and I may still do that.  I decided, however, that by placing it near the front of the back yard, near the seating area and my bedroom window, I could enjoy it as much as possible.

So, the same day Chris delivered my two large troughs, he also delivered the fountain.  I was expecting the same five-gallon-bucket size, but he had outdone himself (he tends to do that fairly consistently, truth be told):  this fountain was huge!

These large fountains come with a large basin which is sunk into the ground, with a plastic insert through which the pump (included) is fed.  The fountain itself rests on a support under the insert and Chris puts a layer of screening (to minimize debris) between the plastic insert and the fountain, which is then covered by decorative rock.  Chris installed the entire piece, digging out the space for the basin and assembling everything for me that day.  We finished up the piece with black river rock.

I do have to watch to make sure the water doesn't get too low, especially if we have a run of really hot days.  For the first few days, the water ran brown due to the peat moss in the hypertufa mixture.  Now it's taken on a nice greenish cast from a bit of slow-growing algae; Chris has suggested we put a bit of bleach in the water to clean that up but I don't want to do that because the birds wouldn't like that one bit.

Because the birds love the fountain!  I have tons of Robins and (unfortunately) Cowbirds bathing in the fountain and the other day a beautiful male Gold Finch paused for a brief drink.  And my kitty Rameses has taken to hanging out in the bedroom on those days which are cool enough to have the windows open - he loves the sound of the water for his daily series of naps - as do I, when I have trouble sleeping at night.

Come to our Garden Tour on August 20, 2011, 10a-2p and see more of Chris's beautiful work, as well as a brief planting demonstration!

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