International Styles

Decorative Garden Water Fountains for Outdoor


Sources of water, were respected or held sacred, from very high antiquity in Eastern nations, as is recorded by historians both sacred and profane. The Greeks, Tuscans, and Romans also, employed statuary water fountains as useful and decorative architecture; and hence they were adopted by the Italians and the French. In the formation of the celebrated gardens of Versailles, they were introduced in profuse magnificence, and became a prime feature in all the varieties of falls, fountains and jets-d'eau. Fashion immediately took them up, and water was spouting every where; no place was complete without a fountain, and the first recommendation of the tasteful towards the decoration of a garden, court, walk, or alley, was "certainly place a fountain there." But in art, as in matters of less importance, it frequently happens, that fashion encroaches upon, or supercedes the more steady patronage of fitness and propriety; and in her vacillating progress, adopts or discards, equally without reflection; and, in her dismissal, the subject, which was hitherto her pride and boast, becomes as obnoxious to her distaste. Thus it was with the fountain in ornamental gardening.

Water Fountain

As in other cases where fashion predominates, its fullness produced its fall; their absurd adoption in most instances, with the incessant repetition of them, occasioned satiety and disgust, consequently they were demolished with as little regard to fine feeling or sound juJgement as was bestowed upon them when first erected. Time has now banished the impression that was fatal to such designs, and their beauties are again correct subjects for garden decoration, when circumstances permit an unforced use of them. Water is rarely otherwise than desirable; and the motion and sound of lightly falling water gives liveliness to a place however secluded, that is not readily obtained in its absence.

To make the proposed fountains it is necessary to have a body of water at an adequate height to produce the jet, and it must be something higher than the altitude proposed, because of the resistance the jet meets with, and among others, from the pressure of the air, and in striking against its descending waters: the aperture at which the water escapes must be proportioned to the height of the reservoir, and to the diameter of the conducting pipes. The following table will give the practical results, in feet, of the received theories on this subject.

These proportions of conducting pipes are suitable to jets removed from reservoirs not exceeding five hundred feet; but if the water requires to be brought from a yet greater distance the pipes must be of larger diameters.

Unless the bends in pipes of communication from the reservoir to the aperture or ajutage be easy and bold, the escape will be proportionally impeded; and to produce an even and regular jet it is necessary to apply a suitable air vessel near to the ajutage, the making of which is well known to manufacturers in copper, of which material they are usually constructed.

The decorative designs are simple in form, and consequently limited in show of water; but if the jets were amply supplied, the overflow of the tables would produce the effect desired. Designs of this kind are now usually manufactured in artificial stone, or sculptured in Portland stone; as they were formerly of lead, the convertibility of which valuable metal undoubtedly assisted in the rapid disappearance of fountains as soon as they fell into disrepute. The present rage for cast iron will probably supercede the use of such leaden works, and as iron would offer no premium for their demolition, they may be expected to enjoy a longer triumph of fashionable importance in our gardens.




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