Old world Spanish influence isn’t always about stone and dark wood. This recently finished Scottsdale landscaping project features a tile outdoor fountain reminiscent of Moorish and Mediterranean style. Cooling cobalt blue provides an excellent foil to the expected colors found in many yards throughout The Valley. It’s bright and vibrant, a surprisingly beautiful accent to a courtyard or outdoor living space.
Technically, this style of landscaping water feature is known as a pool fountain, because it’s a fountain with a pool basin, which is totally different than a swimming pool fountain. A prominent feature in arid climates since the days of ancient Egypt, pool fountains were used for everything but taking a dip for hundreds of years before there was such a thing as a swimming pool. Which is why you take a dip in a swimming pool and not a pool fountain. Originally, pool fountains in public places were the place to fill your buckets and pots with water for household use. On an estate, they might be a cooling feature in the courtyard, along with supplying the garden’s water needs. But if you wanted to take a dip, you needed to go to the river or lake, or visit a public bath.
This particular outdoor fountain project is done in hand crafted cobalt and patterned Mexican Talavera tiles. The bright yellow four-petaled flower pattern pulls familiar blooms and greenery together with the color of deep, cold water.
The long, aged copper fountain spouts used on the central column bear both a graceful curved neck and a curved, split mouth that suggests the open beak of water fowl. The spouts are firmly anchored in an acanthus leaf escutcheon or wall emitter – depending on retail catalog you consult. Technically, an escutcheon is a back plate around a keyhole, door handle, or light switch that protects the surface finish. It can also bear a coat of arms or heraldic shield in clan metal work. At some point in misty history, the decorative back plate of a fountain spout may have born the symbols of royalty and lords, but today they are purely ornamental.
Still, the bracketed fountain spouts emerging from acanthus on the column is perfect for connecting this outdoor fountain to the tradition and history of Scottsdale and the Southwest, and it’s Spanish heritage.
A water feature has been an expectable element of Scottsdale landscaping for as long as civilization has existed. As have hand painted Talavera tiles, whether they came from just across the border in Mexico, or arrived via ship from the motherland several hundred years ago.