Drunk on Fountains – Part 2 of The World Tour

Who cares if fountains only serve water?

Actually, some do better than water. Check out this fountain and guess what material the Bellagio Casino is featuring………..


Yes, that would be four different varieties of……..Chocolate. 😉

What a Hijack! I admit I tried breaking in but was caught, handcuffed and led to the Pay Section where they only had 450 different chocolate items. They mentioned the scores of Choco-holics who gathered around this fountain and that my behavior was not the slightest bit unusual. They have a Drool Patrol who are often called in for clean-up purposes.

So where were we? Oh – sure! Lawns.  No?  Oh, fountains again? OK, just to say we did, here’s an unusual one, found right smack in the middle of Chicago:


Spanish artist Jaume Plensa designed the Crown Fountain to be a tribute to the people of Chicago. The faces that appear to spit streams of water out from the towers are those of 1,000 Chicagoans rotated at random. Though water only flows from mid-spring to mid-fall each year in consideration of Chicago’s often nasty winter weather, the LCD screens are on full time. This one and the next one – Andres Heller-designed – have been shown in here before, but their fascinating uniqueness deserve a reprise. In my opinion, there are some things which never get old. This is from the entrance to the Swarovski headquarters in Wattens, Austria.


William Pyea killer website here – is another searcher taken from among the multitude of artists featuring water in fountains as well as in actual works of art – or both. His work typically is most identified for his incredible Vortex Water Sculpture called Charybdis – here it is:


Other works of Mr. Pye are clearly constructed by someone who is utterly fascinated with water and its effects, such as this gorgeous work below and a more distant perspective of the same work taken from farther out. This work is called “Canyon” and it fits:


Please enlarge these to get their fuller effect –


Other William Pye works include this gorgeous metal piece outside of Lloyd’s Shipping in London, a work entitled “Argosy”:

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Pye’s ultimate fascination did indeed result in ways and means to watch the kenetic properties of rushing water as it appears as a flowing entity over different surfaces and at different pulsations. He was also hugely interested in how light performed in and through water, a gift he dealt out very lushly.

Below is a 6 story drop of a cascade which is attached to a wall. It’s pretty long but totally worth the look in here:


The cascade consists of a vertical rill of water flowing down six stories of bronze panels that are sculpted to create a ripple effect in the water. Four glass panels forming the water wall are suspended from a cantilevered tubular structure, which both holds them in place and acts as a conduit for the water supply. Water is distributed evenly along the length of the panels and flows over the back and front surfaces of the glass. The water is caught in the shallow granite pool into which fibre-optic lights are set. These pick out the colours in the bronze backdrop and highlight the shapes created by the rippling water.

Pretty cool!  😉

Back to chocolate………………..

ChocolateFountain Cologne

This “Chocolate Fountain” you can actually dip from. It is from a place with the Other-Worldly title of the “Cologne Chocolate Museum” which, in itself, is enough to drive certain persons I know to light-headedness. I have therefore supplied a link here – Chocolate Museum – so that they can verify its existence and plan accordingly.

My advice is to wait a week.

A small bit of distraction, first……….. I always hate omitting Tivoli, simply because I think rather ancient stuff rocks:


But then, I was in Korea for a while in another life and what they did to this bridge I can’t help but be proud of and to absolutely adore:

Here is a very cool video of this – Banpo – bridge in operation:

High End Landscaping – Workin’ For The Rich Folks

Landscaping at the lunatic fringe of wealth, like carpeting at the lunatic fringe of wealth, or any other contracting trade, is its own class. Whereas it is a most heavenly possibility to help relieve these people from their overburdened wallets and bank accounts, the results can be disappointing, sad to say. Let’s just leave it at the point that not every encounter with the Uber-Wealthy is a positive experience. In fact, it’s about 50-50, the truth is.

I will absolutely not name names in my blog, other than referring to conversations of a casual or humorous nature. But I can tell of stories where people were strikingly miserable who were wealthy into the hundreds of millions and even billions. They’re people too! They need landscaping and all that stuff. Let’s just say – on a personal level – in many cases people get predictably suspicious of others when they have a lot. There is something to the adage that plenty yields some paranoia. Sometimes, a whole dam lot of it. In some cases, it becomes a threat to your own security. The rich play by their own sets of rules. In fact, many is the time that they make them up!

Anyway, rather than continue this line, knowing nothing we can say will change things that much, just know that merely working for impressive people with “beyond-impressive” homes is not some automatic entree to becoming rich one’s self. You can also go broke working for them – and almost just as easy. Sometimes – through no real fault of your own.

Here’s the third most expensive home in the US: (weighing in at a mere $100 million)

all pictures enlarge by clicking them


Here’s the pool! That’s marble, by the way.


Now, I admit, that was something of a freak show. In one case, it may well have been the most nervous time I ever spent landscaping. We literally had to transport ourselves in a huge excavator, complete with about an 8 ton boulder in our grasp, for placing in a water feature I regret to say I have no pictures of. The slightest rock or article in the way as we crept inside could have tipped the machine enough to scar the walls – or worse, of course – of the granite facing, there was that little tolerance. In fact, we graded and raked towards a perfect finish underneath, just so we could get that monster machine between the walls without incident. It was a white knuckle experience, right off the get go. In fact, as interesting as this project might seem to an outsider, it was a small version of Hell in many ways, there were so many eyes, including the owners – on us at all times. Nor did we last – lol, there were a total of 5 different companies who worked on the project, jettisoned one after another like players on a chessboard. Some projects are not worth the trouble, frankly. And that’s a tough lesson.

Now here’s a mere 17 million dollar home. Now we’re slumming!! Actually, this homeowner was in the dumps at various times for reasons which were his own, lol. I confess, I never really cared for the dude. He once referred to it as a “dump”. Go figure. Fortunately, we were contracted by the builder, rather than the owner, so we almost got paid completely! Oh – I almost forgot – it’s rare to get all your money with many of the more miserable of these types. What really makes that odd is the generation of higher prices to begin with for the proactive contractor, familiar with their ways. I once literally gave a rebate to a client in this category of wealth because he paid his bill in full. I’m not kidding, either. It may well have been the best few bucks I ever spent too. He sent more people my way than I had time to do.

So here’s what $450,000 worth of landscaping will get you: (bear in mind the more open areas were filled with perennial and annual plants and some very gorgeous lamps and lighting which were articles of beauty on their own at about $250 a piece, copper tulips, in fact, with blooms for lights, all multicolored. It is typical of this site that my pictures are made either during construction or soon – like real soon – after completion. We then move on.)


That waterfall there is a two part deal, branching out at the top and going in both directions. Here is the other side of it:


From the street, here is a longer range view:


Nor were these the only water features! We installed this one up by the front door.


It’s rather hard to make out owing to the fact that our drip irrigation  sprayers were on at the time. Those Aspens, by the way, were our additions. 30′ feet high, it was a mighty tight fit putting them in so close to the house. They each weighed a couple of tons and were placed by a monstrous hydraulic tree spade, along with some Noble and White Firs we placed at other locations nearby.

Anyway, here is what the little water feature looked like in process. From this:


To this, then the finished product above. What was funny was that we decided to toss this in as a “toss-in”:


It had one humongous rear patio of stamped concrete:


The stone work was a triumph, however. These walls really add to the overall ambiance terrifically:


The driveway was an interesting mix of brick pavers and stamped concrete.


I really enjoyed the brick work on this project. It worked out outstandingly. Note the Firs in the picture above. Those we also planted, same with the Aspens. Here is a look at the large trees we inserted before we worked on the pavers. One is before we finished the project and the other is after. Of perhaps even more interest is a look at the wild numbers of electrical wiring, pipes and the general traffic in underground services, shown only slightly in the picture just below. Wiring for lights was inserted at the same time as the irrigation piping, irrigation wiring, electrical for the pumps running the water feature (220V) and even power for the heat tape and security gate which goes under the brick driveway:



Stressful at times, yet often resulting in sublime satisfaction for purely selfish reasons as an artisan and tradesman, projects such as these are what we literally die for.


I have a few of these cataloged and I await some pictures from my brother which include other outrageous projects, all of which mixed pleasure and pain in ample amounts – and in every conceivable way.



Many More Before and After Pictures – Misery Beautified

Why not? My oft-stated and not-so-secret love affair with dirt, rocks, machinery and design reflects my equal regard for the one Greatest Human Quality Known To Man:  Occasional Silence.

These sorts of things don’t talk back. They don’t criticize or try and take my Pot of Gold. They sit and wait for my touch in a way that is most yielding and totally compliant. I can pick them up, drop them – in place or on the way – and they’ll just wait to get picked up. I swear, if “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”, then large rocks, lots of dirt, a piece of blank paper and a gorgeous mini-excavator are this Man’s Best Friends.

OK, my bad.

And this guy:

Alenababy and lobo

(click any image to enlarge)

Let us proceed…………….

My reminiscences about all these projects are filled with a definite sense of accomplishment, I readily admit. Probably compensatory at that, so yes, there is an egotistical sucker underneath all this nice guy persona. But I still enjoy sharing!!

Let me take this moment to remember as well those guys and the gals who worked along beside me, doing stuff I am almost positive I could not have done at my best. Patient, long-suffering and dedicated work mates made my trade (and still make it so) my own version of pleasure in the most wholesome and healthy ways. Every day there were huge laughs – great explosions following someone’s screw-up or a joke told at an incredibly poor time.  Ironies and lying were often featured, carrying monstrous weight as elements of the day. Patient and hilarious, one often waited for the “catch”. Hiding among trees or behind machinery was great sport for a sneaky physical attack. A true phantasmagorical experience, working with dirt and mud among people who just knew they should know better. There is a farmer with a sense of humor in all of us. We got to exercise that homely Beast. And, hey – Hardly a day passed when I did not bless my good fortune at sharing all this – no matter how brutally grim and dismal it sometimes seemed. In fact – all the more so at those times. I have always felt richest in the people with whom I have shared the labor than in any other category. Driving home at the end of a day – endorphins irradiating all my available and very exposed pleasure centers – I often wondered if life got any better.

The accomplishment of a team working towards a goal has few equals in terms of pure social pleasure.

To me, there have been dismal days in the field. Good Lord, working in the North West of the US of A is a constant reminder to me that I have probably forgotten more about mud than anyone I know will ever learn. I have added sod on top of liquid dirt many times. I’ll never forget my first day working in Portland, during a complete 8 hour day trenching for irrigation while the area collected 2 inches of rainfall. The next day was worse! And, yes, to answer an obvious question – I asked myself: “I’m doing this for what?” Those are pretty stunning working conditions, fit for the remaining amphibious gene in all of us. It was a wake-up call for all you kids who make bad grades and think not getting a degree is smart!!  😉

Here is a perfect example. We made this nice-looking water feature for a genuinely cool older Italian couple in Portland, Oregon. I always enjoyed the outcome and it won a State Award to cement its status as ‘pretty well done’. Let’s admire the “After” pictures because it’s going to get ugly showing how we got there.

Here’s the view from the deck above –


These gorgeous “Full Spring” shots obscure some pain which led to the accomplishment. This:


Came from this:


Here’s how we got there………


We began dry enough. It was with bawdy optimism, in fact, that we undertook a challenging and well-drawn chore of rendering a waterfall and 3 levels of ponds down this hillside and which is also featured in the “Pages” section of this very blog under “Construction Of A Waterfall”. In that bit, I neglected to mention a few – um – impediments behind the gig.  Anyway, here was our very sunny beginnings, dry, sunny, unseasonably warm October days –


Whilst I scratched around, digging holes and relocating existing stones, the guys went and grabbed the rocks delivered by evil, stinking truck drivers with a penchant for loads of rocks which were too big too handle. By using a ball cart for huge plants, Leo and Samuel were able to huff them all – and we are speaking about pretty much 40 tons of materials – to the rear by the fashion shown below. Dry, it was not that challenging, in the end. Rain of course presented another set of problems altogether. Here’s a dry look at our most modern technology!

150 feet of “carting”, down a hill and not all paved makes a strong guy. I’ll leave that there.


Down the hill……….


I mean, we were incredibly diligent! Never took a minute off – well……….except once. 😉


We did our thing, shaping dirt, getting ready for liner and then the business end of Finishing:


We added the liner –

Picture11Note the nice and rather dry conditions!  We were STYLIN’!!


So there were we were – ready to roll – and then it got nasty outside:


It had all seemed so smooth – until it wasn’t. And it got cold – almost forgot to mention. 😉


The cleanup’s at the end of each day were tons of fun!


Well, it finally cleared but not before making things rather dismal, in today’s understatement of the week. We applied our level best to it all – and got very detailed:


Even a sudden and random outbreak of “Male Pattern Baldness” did not deter us from inspecting each and every little rock we inserted into this edifice.


Still working…………


Finally, it led to a semblance of order – one could see it taking shape in a much more physical way (and here we have added compost to the surrounding soil, yet to be tilled in):


I believe the attention to detail really paid off well and is a large part of why it was so critically well-received:


In the end, it looked darn good – and we were proud of what we’d accomplished – in spite of our liquid impediments. 😉




Pond and Fountain World – My New Buddies

Pond and Fountain World (link)

I have a new bff. I think that’s the Internet term, for new bestest friends. 😉  When I first moved to Louisville, almost a year ago now, I kept noticing this place with all the fountains, their big ol’ sign sporting their name and logo. Well, it didn’t take long for me to visit, needless to say. It’s not as if that’s not completely right up my alley or anything. Wow – I was pretty stunned. They admit they are crowded but who cares? What a treat. They have Koi!

(click images to enlarge)

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Browsing Pond and Fountain World’s headquarters was a wonderful refreshment for me – they display a phenomenal number of their products but they have far, far more. There are water pumps pretty much everywhere, running the fountains they feature – we’re talking well-hidden electrical cords galore. But the incredible water falls, ponds and constructed displays are also off the charts. We’re talking “The Natural Look” side of things, ala this blog’s many water features. These guys are brothers.

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I rudely introduced myself and dropped my name and this blog’s presence. I actually got to speak with the owner, George, at that time, but he was as distracted as any landscape business owner would be at that time of the year. He did, however, say he knew of me and wanted to speak further. I was intrigued. Finally, we actually produced a get-together and they mentioned they might want me to blog for them as well. This could happen. There is a definite synergy of interests there.

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What I was really interested in was selling their products in other blogs and George mentioned his eBay page and such, which would work just fine for me as an affiliate of eBay. This I intend to do unless we produce a blog together – which we are talking about now. We’ll see. In any event, I like the place and the folks there.

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It’s a fascinating resource so close to home for me and they do so many things I have done. It’s also wonderful to watch someone else deal with the stress of business, I confess, while I now possess this newer identity as a “blogger” who can stay in his pajamas all day long if he wants. I suddenly feel like The Grateful Dead. 😉  Or is that Cheech and Chong?

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It’s definitely crowded. It reminded me of those cemeteries in New Orleans, with all the closely-clustered and sculpted graves and statures. Ironically, it’s still possible to imagine any fountain or feature sold there on its own, at the same time. Plentiful, gorgeous and quite satiating for the water fanatic in us all. Check out these two Bronze items from Italy:

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At any rate, they reminded me not just of the glory of fountains, per se, but also of the human love affair with water itself. Water as art, water as a movable feast for the eyes and the ears and for the soul – and all the different ways the civilized human species has devised to present water as a kinetic art form.

Me likey.  😉

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