SLIDESHOW: Fountains of Glory

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Small fountains can be among the most beautiful elements in the landscape, especially when created with sensitivity to the homeowners' tastes and the character of the setting. Here, Senior Editor Eric Herman offers a visual celebration of waterfeatures that draw their aesthetic appeal from the power of simplicity.

To fully understand water's power to transform human experience, all one has to do is consider the potency of the words used to describe it: "tranquility," "absolution," "purity," "recreation," "invigorating," "soothing," "contemplative," "spiritual," "quenching," "turbulent," "shimmering" and "eternal," to name a few.

In the pool and spa business, we tend to take those descriptors for granted. We simply assume the power of water is a given while we struggle to grasp its sublime chemistry, dynamic physicality and how to build the perfect vessel. Often, that means thinking big and selling big as a way to maximize both the dollars and psychological impact of our industry's products.

And make no mistake, the world of social media, mass marketing and commercial communication is brimming with spectacular examples of residential and commercial spaces filled with elaborate features suited for the most high-flown recreational desires. To a large extent, we are in the business of spectacle. Yet there's another side to the character of water that too often goes unsung: The beauty and power of simplicity.

For many clients, it's the most modest applications of decorative water that have the greatest enduring impact and emotional appeal. Perhaps it's the sound of a delicate cascade, the intimate view of birds splashing in a small pool, or the way the presence of water transforms a common artifact into a subtle work of art.

All of that is why we've decided to offer a few examples of the modest magic of small to medium-sized residential fountains. The following set of images illustrates both the sublime beauty of smallish features while also revealing the multiple roles water can play in the garden. Some are artistic centerpieces that define the space, others are adjuncts to more grandiose elements, some function as destinations in the landscape and others are purely for the purpose of delighting those who venture near.

They all play their role in creating a habitat of human experience and pleasure; all are examples of water's rich lexicon of the senses.

Comments or thoughts on this article? Please e-mail [email protected].

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