Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Beauty and the beast

I planted this azalea a few years ago. It was a spare plant, a runner from an azalea in front of our house. All I wanted was some year-round greenery to block the ugly electric utility box. Now it has become one of the prettier bushes we have.

As is often the case, Jasper was brought in as a size reference. He is sitting on the utility box, although he wasn't quite sure why.

When I resurfaced the deck with Trex last year, the Carolina Jasmine took a big hit. I generally just ripped it off the old decking and then just stuck it back up when I was done. It certainly seems to be quite happy with its new Trex environment. Now that most of the blooming is done, it is growing its new vines at a rate of about an inch a day.

And now for a #%*&!!(# lesson in physics. A few years back, I put in this fountain. Very pretty, but quite the challenge at 800 pounds. Filled the fountain. Started the fountain. Very pretty, but very splashy. If you let it run for a day or three, it slowly, relentlessly splashes out enough water to be a problem. If you let the water get too low, the pump can burn out.

No problem for me. I are smart. I had an irrigation system and figured it would be handy for the plants around the fountain. I ran a few of the little irrigation lines into the fountain. This means that every few days, the irrigation system kicks on and the fountain should refill.

Even after doing this, the fountain was emptying quickly. I figured I must have a leak where the electric line runs into the base of the fountain. It's underneath so you can't look to check.

Before filling the fountain after the winter, I sealed around the electric cord. Fill the fountain. Start the fountain. Watch the fountain drain again. How can this be?

I sit down on the front porch and stare angrily at the fountain. It takes me a good while, but I finally get it. When the irrigation starts, it fills all the pipes with water. When it turns off, the lines downhill from the fountain act as siphons. They slowly, imperceptibly, suck water back out of the fountain. Not enough to see unless you already know exactly where to look and what to look for.

The answer was to hook the irrigation lines to the side of the fountain so they can pour water in, but not siphon it all back out. Perhaps this lesson will help someone, somewhere, somehow. If not, just enjoy my suffering.
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