Archive for December, 2010

The Outdoor Room – Arbors

December 30th, 2010

Arbors are defined as simple archways, much less complex than similar landscape carpentry projects such as Pergola’s and Gazebo’s. Arbors are relatively simple constructions – which is very cool because of what a small amount of material and effort they take to construct compared to what they add to an outdoor environment. Pond And Fountain World has a very intense interest in these constructions because we generally offer a full-service package with everything we market – from design to installations. To that end, we are increasing the number of products relating to landscaping carpentry projects within our website.

Arbors can be a virtual gateway to an entirely different landscape element:

(click any image to enlarge)

What a structure such as this accomplishes, with so little energy, is an entire mood-setting change, allowing a break between garden elements. In the picture above, we go from a large, thickly-planted lawn and garden area into the more narrow side yard where first impressions and overall beauty got a chance to develop over a longer period of time.

Below, we have another example of a “mood change”, this time from a very open area for circulating and dining or partying, breaking to a more intimate and far more private area, simply by the use of a separating structural design.

Needless to say, both arbors but especially the second one, will benefit and provide more privacy with the coming growth of planting up and around them. The one directly above was obviously pictured at the very end of the construction project. The plants and setting is very immature at this stage.

As this image from the Portland, Oregon Japanese Garden suggests, over time, the benefits of plantings are something else entirely. They make the entire arbor much more than how it began.

Here is the Springtime look at the same arbor:

(Picture credit for this: (http://travel.webshots.com/)

As we can plainly see, the merits of simple arbors are generous. Small, elegant structures can define a landscape. The Japanese have always excelled at these, providing stunning entrance ways, providing simple yet quite elegant and privacy-inducing formal entries to residences. The clean lines of the best Japanese classical settings date from medieval times, incredibly enough, and have supplied the grist for many designer’s ideas and concepts:

Once again, from this blogger’s travels to the Portland Japanese Garden:

One can easily see why such designs provide the basics for so many more modern projects and installations of landscaping. The straight line was not a secret to the Japanese, even 1,000 years ago:

Arbors are entirely satisfying. Once again, they are rather simple to construct, with designs as numerous as one could want. Pond And Fountain World (click here for access) has a stunning lineup of pre-made arbors coming online soon. We are tremendously excited to share our love for garden structures to coincide with our obvious love of water in landscapes. We feel this is a completely natural cooperative effort. Thank for reading!

The Outdoor Room – Pergolas

December 29th, 2010

Among the many features available to designers and homeowners, invested in creating a wonderful outdoor experience, garden carpentry projects – by oneself or by others – can produce perfect accompaniments with simple designs and a relative ease of installation. Pond And Fountain World is preparing to provide an entire array of products exactly like these below on our website and showroom. For our designers as well as for those to whom we supply so much, these are exciting days.

Pergola’s

Relatively easy to install, these shade-giving edifices are now made of an incredibly wide range of materials – plastic/vinyl, fiberglass, wood and even metallic structures come in pre-fab pieces which one can install himself or which can be handily done by others. These may also come in a stunning variety of forms, suitable for free-standing shade and privacy mechanisms or for attached additions to walls, serving much the same purposes.

Attachment to a wall can also serve a splendidly permanent “awning-like” purpose, particularly for windows with occasional – or worse – glare issues.

These gorgeous structures can be delightfully pretty in their own rights, as shown above, or they can have additional flourishes provided to inspire other moods, such as this gorgeously Antebllum sort of style surrounding this outdoor ‘porch’.

These seem as simple as they actually are. One has absolutely no end of options with which to adjust a pergola to taste, including the single most wonderful addition imaginable which is a feature on our oldest Pergola structures, from the time of the Greeks – plants.

The next picture was taken during construction of a project in Reno, Nevada. Being such an insanely Sun-rich environment meant shade was definitely something to shoot for. Here we can see the angle of the thick boards at the top of the pergola served perfectly to provide shade while still leaving the gorgeous open sky above. Simple, relatively huge, it was quite heavy, but very effective.

(click to enlarge)

Pond And Fountain World is embarking on a real in-depth cooperation with the manufacturers of such garden products. It seems the very natural thing to do, especially inasmuch as we already cover so many bases in the designs and the installations of many outdoor rooms. We are working on  more features to be hosted on the website, complete with examples and pricing. This is a terrific pass. We are deeply into the entire mode of Outdoor Rooms and the pleasure they provide.

Outrageous Fountains, Part Deux

December 26th, 2010

To cope with the overwhelming influx of commentary regarding my most recent post (Thanks, Helen!! ;-)   ), I have ratcheted things up yet another notch, into the purely impractical zones which do not exist anywhere except – well – except in the real world. Let me take a moment to bow solemnly to those Imps who not only design but who also fund these marvelously eccentric and utterly bizarre edifices. (bowing).

OK, done. Now for the meat and potatoes……………

Having seen this spoon and fruit in real life, I can vouch for its surprising presence as not only unusual but also as gigantic. Minneapolis needs to be proud of this incredibly useless and serendipitous item. My Pond And Fountain World hat is off to them!

Fountains For Effect

The next two fountains betray our non-serious side momentarily as they reveal an understated “effect”, achieved by the simplest of means but with a near-maximum of accomplishment. Both use minimal resources to create ‘near-living images’, the first one simply defining the beauty of form of dashing porpoises and enhancing it, the second crating an action-piece by the simple placement of a few gurgling little pumps placed under some magnificent sculptures.

Far be it from me to maintain an adamantly serious side. Having said that, we may now recommence with the utterly outrageous. The combination of fire and water typically results in smoke. However, here, below, we find they can coexist in a rather outrageous fashion, producing motion of two elements which are not generally seen together.

For sheer outrageous lushness, these gilded sculpture fountains in St. Petersburg, Russia have few, if any peers:

The “Friendship Fountain” in Moscow is somewhat wild and somewhat expensive………

I’m thinking you won’t make this at home. ;-)

Finally, I would be remiss if I left out the various water-colored arrays from the world’s vast and various fountains, such as this “Blood Fountain” in Romania -

Romantic, eh?

Outrageous Fountains?

December 24th, 2010

Silly idea, isn’t it?

Already, we have the most outrageously designed fountains and have had for long decades. The absolute whimsy of these constructions proves that we have a sense of humor in the design and contract-awarding phases of our selection committees. Sure, I am positive some artists have sneakily inserted anarchic notions after giving conservative expectations. At least I hope so. Let’s visit some outrageous fountains, just to say we did.

The Stravinsky Fountain And Center, Paris, France

The weird and wonderful Stravinsky Fountain on Paris is animated by some bizarre, colorful and imaginative sculptures. The strange composition was created by a lady named Niki de Saint Phalle (for her fascinating biography). It was created  in 1982, together with the aquatic mechanisms of Jean Tinguely. A bright blue hat twirls manically while an elephant spits water; the figure with the golden corona was inspired by Stravinsky’s Firebird. This might just take the “weird” cake.

Here’s a winner in the weirdness category, an oft-photographed Austrian troll

Looking like either a set from the 1960 film The Time Machine or Dr. Evil’s  lair from an Austin Powers flick, this huge, troll-like fountain is actually the entrance of the “Swarovski” headquarters in Wattens, Austria.

Below, the World’s Largest Chocolate Fountains runs steadily in Las Vegas’s Bellagio Hotel. Having stumbled across this while mining for pictures of their magnificent fountains recently, my mouth took on a watery and rather drooling sort of character. Naturally, I decided to see if I could inspire such visceral reactions in you.  ;-)

I am nearly ashamed to admit to a frightful number of fountains dedicated to body functions. Indeed, I won’t show any today. Suffice to say, there is more than a few. No, instead, I’d rather stick with the weird -

Let’s finish with a flourish!

OK, now’ we’re runnin’ on gas!

Drink?

Whoa!!  Stop!!

OK, then. A drink.

;-)

Biofuel Gel Fire Features

December 22nd, 2010

Outdoors

Among the more interesting developments in the design of fascinating new ways to appreciate Nature’s elements, the modern “Fire Feature” has taken on a far more-approachable cast. We have been adding fire and its warming power to landscapes forever – by constructing pits, for example, then by designing new ways to feature fire with gas feeds. Outdoor areas have discovered radiant heaters which can combat cool weather with style and comfort in affordable and attractive ways. From attractive and warming “fire tables” to standing lamps feeding warm air downwards, new technologies are really opening up.

Indoors

But it is in the indoors where the real magic seems to be most alive. New “flue-less” technologies, using gels for fuel and encapsulating flames inside clear glass panels have opened a design dimension that is fairly staggering.

These fire features are powered by biofuels. The heat energy supplied goes straight into the room instead of being lost through a chimney. What is coolest of all is that biofuel fireplaces need no fixed installation and are totally mobile. These fireplaces spread a moderate and pleasant warmth right from the start and in contrast to wood-burning there is nothing to clean once the fire has burnt. When the burner is cool it can be refilled and used again – lighting a fireplace is pretty darn  comfortable and easy.

These guys also are made for outdoors, by the way.

Pond And Fountain World is featuring these soon on the home page. They are for sale currently through the website. There utterly remarkable new designs are the very latest in fire technology. Click here to check out these and any other of the long list of products featured.

The “Outdoor Room” in Landscaping – Part 2

December 21st, 2010

As we saw in Part 1, the concept of the outdoor room is drawing attention as not only a design element but also as a life-enhancing experience and a deeper drink of our own home and leisure time. Americans work very hard. Many of us are surprised to have leisure time and we often don’t know what to do when it shows up – miraculously – right in front of us. True psychological health does include the ability to see outside ourselves. Who knew?? What I advocate in all this silliness is to offer ourselves some eye candy and maybe something especially our own so that we can secretly make ourselves more whole. Yeah – having fun is a huge part of this.

The times now are not so tough as to exclude ideas – and these are the best times of all to plan. It’s Winter, it’s cold, the economy has been better – Bob’s yer uncle. Anyone with a piece of territory of their own can make a small world of their own – be it an apartment condo patio shoved out into space, 30 stories above the ground, or someone with ten acres of black dirt in Central Illinois out the back window running as far as the eye can see. We are merely as creative as we allow ourselves – or our designers – to be.

Maybe we’ll create a working garden! Fill it with herbs, flowers and some of those fabulous Yellow Grape Tomatoes. Make an interesting design, pick up some rocks and dirt and make it ourselves. Lose 10 pounds at the same time.

Conversely, we could set up some way to stay nice and warm outdoors at almost any time and take advantage of a great view – no big deal, get a few rocks and a neat fire thingy, turn it on and grab some weenies.

Of course, if we wanted to get all extravagant, we could go for the more exotic views and include an Infinity Edge water feature. The owner of this “cee-ment pond” had a little Jed Clampett in him. I once went by to check on some irrigation issues and – there he was! – he’d sank a chair into the pool portion and was sitting in the pool, reading.

He was a chef in Reno, Nevada at one of the high end casinos. Don’t ever visit him if you’re worried about your weight. Ever.  ;-)

But most of all, we should acquaint ourselves with what is possible. So many folks cut themselves off from items or concepts they later wish they had considered while designing or while building their outdoor environments. A familiarization with elements of outdoor living could range a long, long way, I admit. From water features to pergola’s and gazebo’s, from bubble rocks to Dawn Redwoods – the seemingly endless possibilities sometimes threaten to overwhelm us. Don’t let that happen.

Enjoy the journey.

Think big.

Bigger…………

There ya go……..

Biggest………..;-)