Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Temporarily out of commission

Our backyard fountain, inherited with the garden, is a focal point.  It features prominently in many of my photos, particularly my quarterly wide shots.

This photo was taken in preparation for my last wide shots post, published in April

The fact that it's beloved by the birds is even more important.

One of many photos taken of the birds splashing in the fountain.  This one was taken in September 2021.

 

Regrettably, the raccoons like to hang out there too.

The most common sign that raccoons have paid us a visit are the scattered shells they drop in and around the fountain.  Occasionally I've caught them in the act.  This photo of a mother and baby was taken in 2020 through the living room window.  Once a raccoon even stole the fountain's filter, only to drop it yards away elsewhere in the garden.  It took us days to find it.

Last weekend, the fountain pump broke down. We had to take the entire fountain apart to verify that the pump was the problem.  This gave us the "opportunity" to clean it out.  Cleaning it is a tedious and time-consuming process.

We clean the bottom section in place after pumping out the water and scooping the sludge that's settled to the bottom after several months of operation.  We scrub each of the parts with a non-toxic cleaner and set them in the sun to dry.  This includes the concrete bricks we've used to protect the pump and the filter from tampering on the part of the raccoons.  I also clean the rocks and seashells, which provide the birds a perch on the top tier of the fountain.

 

We've replaced the pump three times before.  Getting a new one by mail order took a couple of days.  However, putting the fountain back together once it was received didn't take long.

The new pump is smaller and has no filter (which I find a bit alarming) so the addition of the concrete bricks is no longer necessary.  We did have some trouble calibrating the recirculating pump's flow to prevent it from spitting up into the air, however.  Once it was running, the birds were back in no time.


The time spent on the back patio prompted me to finally take care of the damaged Yucca 'Blue Boy' I wrote about in a "Should it stay of should it go?" post two weeks ago.

Earlier photo of my largest Yucca 'Blue Boy' showing insect damage

Cutting the trunk level to the ground was easy once I found the right tool.  I moved the pot that had been situated between the Yucca and the patio to the other side of the bed at the same time. The pot had been getting too much water from a nearby sprinkler.

Interestingly, as can be seen here, the Yucca's trunk is already showing signs of having sprouted 3 offsets from its base

I moved the pot of succulents contained Aloe brevifolia to an area that gets little to no irrigation.

I still need to properly level the pot in its new spot and fill it out with one or more additional succulents

Two chores down but of course other dominoes fell in the process.  In addition to tweaking the placement and contents of the succulent pot shown above, I need to overall the bed adjacent to the patio.  The area surrounding the fountain also needs a refresh.  While it looks fine in early spring when the Narcissi, Freesia and Iris are blooming, it looks somewhat sad at other times of the year.  It looks sadder still after being trampled during our fountain repair effort.  Both areas are among the driest in my garden but succulents aren't the best choice, at least not around the fountain given that it requires cleaning at least twice a year as well as periodic repairs.  I need to give some thought to alternative planting schemes.


All material © 2012-2022 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


18 comments:

  1. I love your bird bath/fountain and have been on the lookout for something similar. Contemplating how I could make one as not having much luck. Feels satisfying to get little tasks done. I remember my grandmother cursing the 'coons' when they messed with her garden. However, I still think they are very cute but then we don't have them here.

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    1. The raccoons are cuter at a distance than when close up, Elaine. The adults, particularly mama raccoons, can be quite fierce when confronted.

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  2. Glad it's all sorted and back together now. And funny how one chore can lead you to pay extra attention to that area which leads on to more activities.

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    1. Actually, today the focus shifted again as we discovered me have a leak in our irrigation system, a bad one. All the effort I put into saving water and poof, it's gone :(

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  3. Oh boy, 3 offsets of Yucca 'Blue Boy'! The prospect of them filling in the vacated area is exciting.
    The raccoons in the fountain are "postcard cute"... in real life I find them rather creepy.
    Chavli

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    1. You'd never want to go up against a raccoon, Chavli. Mama raccoons in particular.

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  4. Looking forward to seeing what you work out for a dry/semi-walkable area, aka my front yard. Have been much inspired lately by Jonathan Froines' dry succession garden in the field notes on his website (no promo, just a fan). Yay for bird water; so important in CA drought :)

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    1. Thanks for the reference to Jonathan Froinees. I checked out his site.

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  5. That fountain is such a nice feature. Glad it has been brought back to life.

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    1. I've toyed with the idea of turning the fountain into a large succulent container but I can't bring myself to do that to the birds. However, if the water situation significantly worsens and/or the fountain's structure decays (it's already required periodic repairs to the concrete base), that could happen some day.

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  6. You can get little intake screens for small pumps that you can screw on to the intake. Depends how much space you have.

    Hopefully your 'Blue Boy' comes back strong, healthy, and beautiful.

    We got a little surprise rain this morning, perhaps a tenth of an inch. Every drop helps.

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    1. Thanks for the tip on filters. Congratulations on the rain! While we got about that amount a week ago, we got no measurable rain out of this thunderstorm, just lots of thunder, a little lightning and heightened humidity.

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  7. Three pump replacements seems like a lot, but seeing that you run it 24/7/365, I suppose one can't hope for more. The birds certainly need and appreciate it! Eliza

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    1. While we do run it every day, we don't actually run it all day. It's on from 8am until 5pm and shuts off automatically in between (unless we have evening guests). The prior owner left 3 more pumps behind when he moved so clearly they didn't have much of a track record. This one is a different make so it remains to be seen as to whether it will be better, worse or about the same.

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  8. I’m sure the birds appreciate all the care that goes into ensuring a clean water supply for them. And it must be satisfying job to get over and done with.

    I’ve never seen a racoon before - they’re soooooo cute looking (although I totally get that they are maligned by US gardeners for the damage they do). Here we have possums (also cute but destructive) as well as rats. In more rural areas, bunnies and kangaroos are an issue. Roos especially like to eat rosebuds! Horticat

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    1. Everyone has some kind of critter problem it seems, Horticat. We have possums too - they've actually caused more headaches with their digging than the raccoons this year. In addition, we have coyotes, rabbits, skunks, gophers and the occasional peacock. This year, the rabbits have been the biggest problem for us as their normal predators seem to have fallen down on the job. I can't even imagine dealing with something as big as a kangaroo, or deer or bears for that matter.

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  9. The birds look so happy bathing - it's a joy to see. Glad you fixed it for them! I hear you about dominos falling... I sense it with every fibre of my being... Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever catch up...
    Exciting about the three new Yucca shoots!

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    1. I keep reminding myself that gardens are never, ever "done", Anna. We should probably all be glad about that, even when some of the bumps along the road are annoying ;)

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