Three timeless fountains start with great pots
Falling waters
Deidra Walpole

Pleasure isn’t complicated. Omar Khayyám celebrated that fact in The Rubáiyát in his famous lines: “A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread – and Thou / Beside me singing in the Wilderness.” Softly burbling fountains, which bring so much pleasure to gardens, need not look complicated, either.

Tons of boulders, miles of pipes, and truckloads of statuary are not necessary to create a beautiful fountain for a patio or courtyard. The timeless fountains pictured here all can be reduced to a few elements – a great pot, a pump, some pipe, and a spout to splash the water back into a reservoir. Their look is simple but elegant.

Oil jar classic

This glazed blue oil-jar fountain sits on a tile-covered concrete pedestal framed by a 20-inch-deep pool in the Hollywood, California, garden of Laura Smith and Michael Doret.  A submersible, recirculating pump housed within the pedestal pushes water through a galvanized pipe, which fits through a hole in the jar’s bottom; the water then trickles over the jar’s rim into the 3 1/2-foot-square, concrete-lined pool. A rubber gasket and galvanized washer and nut hold the pipe in place and seal the hole. The pump runs on standard household current (120 volts) with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet for safety.

DESIGN: Frank Perrino, Woodland Hills, CA, and Laura Smith, Hollywood. Jar from Gladding, McBean (916/645-3341, ext. 202). Tiles from Los Angeles-based California Pottery and Tile Works (323/235-4151). 

Big bowl fountain

This rough-textured pot would look as appropriate in an ancient village square in Italy, Greece, or Spain as it does in this garden owned by Robert and Carolyn Volk of San Marino, California. Water recirculates through a pump placed in a fiberglass pond liner beneath the pot; stones cover the liner. The pot is from Al’s Garden Art in South El Monte, California.

DESIGN: Mark Bartos, BEM Design Group, South Pasadena. 

Urn of stone

Water spills from an antique French stone urn into a rectangular pool and a narrow, 18-inch-deep channel in this San Clemente, California, garden. A pump recirculates the water. The design, a joint effort of Larry Steinle, a Laguna Beach landscape architect, and Lew Whitney, chairman of Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar, is the focal point of a garden corner that invites quiet contemplation. Scented geraniums and other foliage plants grow nearby.

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