An Alameda Garden: Waterworks

Sunday, August 20, 2006


I've been wanting to set up a small fountain in my garden for a long time and I've been working on it bit by bit, trying to do it as inexpensively as possible. I found a small bamboo spout and filter/pump last year for about $20, but it took much longer to find the right size and type of container. I've been searching for things to use in the garden that have a bit of an Old California look, which means a Mexican style (which is influenced greatly by Spanish style, which is influenced greatly by Moorish style, etc.), but I couldn't find a glazed pot with no drainage hole in that style. The closest I could find was a large pot at Cost Plus for about $25. It looks to me like it's Southeast Asian in style (Indonesian perhaps, or Thai), but the face on the pot reminded me slightly of the Mayan face carvings I saw years ago in the Yucatan area. At any rate, it was interesting, the right size, and the right price, so I got it.

I set the fountain up a few months ago, using a pot of horsetail reed as the only plant in it. It looked a little bare. And I'm afraid I was a little slipshod about the maintenance recently, resulting in a lot of nasty algae building up. A pond with algae loses much of its appeal, although Linus the cat seemed to like playing with the gross green scum floating around in it.

So this weekend I made it my mission to improve the fountain. In order to make it look a bit more lush I purchased a variegated acorus to go beside the horsetail. This morning I took the whole thing apart, scrubbed it out, and reassembled it. This is the result:
You will notice the slightly handicapped concrete frog to the right of the fountain. This frog used to reside in my grandmother's backyard in a little grotto that my grandfather built in the corner. When I was about nine, we moved to a house that had a pond in the backyard that had been filled in. We spent an Easter vacation digging out the pond, cleaning it up and refilling it with water and fish, and then my grandmother brought the frog over to stand guard at the edge of the pond. When we moved from that house several years later, the frog went back to my grandmother's house, where in an unfortunate accident the gardener accidentally amputated its forearms with a weed-whacker. After my grandmother died and the family was closing up her house, I brought the frog back to my apartment where it lived in a cramped hallway (and then after I'd stubbed my toe on it a few times, in an even more cramped closet) until I moved to this house four years ago. At long last, the concrete frog, now named Venus de Frog-o, has found another pond to stand guard at.


  1. yuriko11:57 AM

    I love the venus de frogo story, one's spaces should have history and meaning and your frog gives your pond/planting that. I think you stubbed your toe because he wasn't very happy away from water, now he should be very pleased! The pot has the face of the Buddha, the half closed eyes and the long earlobes are symbols of wisdom and enlightenment reached through meditation. OOOmmmmm

  2. Venus has a wonderful history... I love that story, but my jaw did drop when I read about her getting amputated by a weed wacker! Eek.

    The pot is gorgeous, and I love his variegated "hair" coming out the top.

  3. Lovely froggy, and a nice story to go with him too.Sound painful being hit by a weed whacker.I like your pot, it is very Mayan.Hope Linus enjoys the new plant...

  4. Nice blogg and photos! I've marked it in my favorites to check back often.
    Just new at blogging myself and can learn from you and others.
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Why can't I seem to source any cool pots with international flavor here? As far as garden pots go, the local nurseries don't stock many, so the big box stores are about all the choice we have. Nothing as fun as what you found though....

    Christine in Alaska

  6. Hey, that is one very lovely vignette you have. The tones are muted and attractive. Inspiring! The Tale of the Frog is delightful and made me smile. So very important for that frog to be with you in this home. BTW, the prices you quote for pots in Calif are much better than the prices we find here in NY! Good for you. I'm just getting my NY balcony set up and I'm debating whether just to purchase a small fountain or to do the large bowl or pot as you've done. Thank you for your post.


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