Contemporary Garden Decoration: Fountains and their Beginnings

A fountain, an incredible piece of engineering, not only supplies drinking water as it pours into a basin, it can also propel water high into the air for an extraordinary effect.

The central purpose of a fountain was originally strictly functional. People in cities, towns and villages received their drinking water, as well as water to bathe and wash, via aqueducts or springs in the area. Used until the 19th century, in order for fountains to flow or shoot up into the air, their source of water such as reservoirs or aqueducts, had to be higher than the water fountain in order to benefit from gravity. Fountains were an excellent source of water, and also served to decorate living areas and memorialize the designer. 1258_terra_cotta__77855.jpg Roman fountains often depicted imagery of animals or heroes made of metal or stone masks. During the Middle Ages, Muslim and Moorish garden designers included fountains in their designs to mimic the gardens of paradise. To show his prominence over nature, French King Louis XIV included fountains in the Garden of Versailles. The Popes of the 17th and 18th centuries were extolled with baroque style fountains made to mark the place of entry of Roman aqueducts.

The end of the nineteenth century saw the rise in usage of indoor plumbing to provide drinking water, so urban fountains were relegated to strictly decorative elements. The creation of unique water effects and the recycling of water were 2 things made possible by replacing gravity with mechanical pumps.

Contemporary fountains are used to embellish public spaces, honor individuals or events, and enrich recreational and entertainment events.

A Genuine Roman Masterpiece: The Santa Maria Fountain in Cosmedin

Archaeologists and restorers on the lookout for pagan and Christian artifacts in Rome have come upon a wealth of them in the area of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth} is a renowned marble sculpture found in the portico of the nearby basilica. Since the Santa Maria in Cosmedin fountain (1719) was located off the beaten track, it remained relatively obscure. For the most part, people stayed away from the area because it was a drab and desolate part of the city.

It was a this time that Pope Clement XI mandated the Italian architect Carlo Bizzaccheri to put up a fountain to refurbish the square outside the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Work on the church's foundation began on on August 11, 1717. After blessing of the first stone, medals bearing the images of the Blessed Virgin, for whom the church is named, and of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of water, were tossed into the foundation.

Keep Your Garden Wall Fountain Clean

Adequate care and regular maintenance are important to the longevity of water fountains. It is easy for foreign objects to find their way into open-air fountains, so keeping it clean is important. Additionally, anywhere light from the sun combines with still water, algae can develop. To prevent this, take vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or sea salt and add straight into the water. Another option is to blend bleach into the water, but this action can harm wild animals and so should really be avoided.

Experts suggest that the typical garden fountain undergoes a thorough cleaning every 3-4 months. The first step is to get rid of all the water. When you have done this, wash inside the water reservoir with a gentle detergent. Feel free to use a toothbrush if necessary for any stubborn crevasses. Do not leave any soap deposit in or on the fountain.

Calcium and fresh water organisms can get inside the pump, so you should disassemble it to get it truly clean. Letting it soak in vinegar for several hours first will make it much easier to clean. Mineral or rain water, versus tap water, is ideal in order to eliminate any build-up of chemicals inside the pump.

Lastly, make sure your fountain is always full by checking on it every day - this will keep it in tip-top shape. Low water levels can ruin the pump - and you don't want that!

Water Delivery Strategies in Historic Rome

Rome’s very first elevated aqueduct, Aqua Anio Vetus, was built in 273 BC; before that, residents living at higher elevations had to depend on natural streams for their water. Outside of these aqueducts and springs, wells and rainwater-collecting cisterns were the sole technological innovations available at the time to supply water to areas of greater elevation. From the beginning of the sixteenth century, water was routed to Pincian Hill via the subterranean channel of Acqua Vergine. Throughout the length of the aqueduct’s channel were pozzi, or manholes, that gave access. Though they were primarily planned to make it possible to support the aqueduct, Cardinal Marcello Crescenzi began using the manholes to collect water from the channel, starting when he acquired the property in 1543. It appears that, the rainwater cistern on his property wasn’t enough to satisfy his needs. Fortunately, the aqueduct sat under his property, and he had a shaft opened to give him access.

Fountains: Important in any Japanese Landscapes

No Japanese garden is finished without a water element. The Japanese water fountain is considered symbolic of spiritual and physical cleaning, so it is typically placed in or near the doorways of temples or homes. Since water is the most essential element of any Japanese fountain, the design is generally simple.

Many people also get a water fountain that features a bamboo spout. The basin, which tends to be built of stones, collects the water as it flows down from the bamboo spout. People typically make them look weathered and worn, even when they are new. So that the fountain appears at one with nature, people normally enhance it with natural stones, pretty flowers, and plants. Clearly this fountain is much more than simply a nice add-on.

If you want to get a bit more creative, try a stone fountain enhanced with live bamboo and other natural elements placed on a bed of gravel.

The aim is that over time it will start to look more and more like a natural part of the landscape, as moss slowly grows over the stones.

Anyone who has an extensive area to work with can, of course, install a much bigger water feature. Lots of people add a koi pond or a little stream as a final touch.

Japanese fountains, though, do not really need to have water in them. Pretty rocks, sand, or gravel are ideal alternatives to actual water, as they can be used to symbolize the water. In addition, flat stones can be laid out close enough together to give the illusion of a babbling brook.

Incorporate the Vitality of Feng Shui into Your Garden

When applied to your yard, feng shui design will introduce its beneficial energy into your home as well.

Size is not the most important consideration when adding feng shui design to your garden.

A huge area is great for those privileged enough to have it, but a smaller area can still be useful in feng shui design.

Feng shui tools are identical whether you are working in your garden or your residence. In order to know the energy map, or bagua, of your garden, you will first need to understand your home’s bagua.

In order to make the most of feng shui, it is important to start by comprehending how to strengthen each of its five elements.

An example of this is that Earth is the feng shui element you should include in the northeast part of your garden because that part of your garden connects to the energy of personal growth and self-cultivation. This could be the ideal place to put a meditative Zen garden with some alluring stones because these represent the Earth element in feng shui.

Southeast (money and abundance), East (health & family), and North (career & path in life) are feng shui areas ideal for a water feature.


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