Monday, August 01, 2011

Bold and Beautiful Fountains

I could lie and tell you that the idea for this post on cascading fountains came from reading something high-brow. But, no, the inspiration came from watching The Bold and the Beautiful. (I don't feel so guilty about admitting that from time to time I watch soap operas, especially after learning that the courtly author Shelby Foote and artist Robert Rauschenberg both watched them.) In a recent episode of B&B, Brooke was lamenting losing her husband, Ridge, because it was believed that Brooke had slept with her adult step-son while both were stranded on a deserted island. In fact, Ridge's son lied about the affair, doing so in order to become the majority shareholder in Forrester Creations (one of the world's premier fashion houses) after being promised the shares by his grandmother, Stephanie, who orchestrated the lie because she happens to be Brooke's mortal enemy. But then Ridge found out the truth and came home to Brooke's Beverly Hills estate to reunite with her, finding her seated at the bottom of an extremely long cascading fountain. Ridge, romantic guy that he is, sent rose petals floating down from the top, alerting Brooke to the fact that Ridge had come home. So you see, as transfixed as I was with the drama unfolding before me, I was equally as mesmerized by the cascading fountain.

Of course, not many people have the land nor the means to install a cascading fountain like those at Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. Now those are dramatic! My taste, though, is for something less baroque. That's why I prefer the more classical fountain at Ballyfin in Ireland (see above.) I think that a fountain like that is really quite doable, though perhaps on a smaller scale.

And going back to Brooke's cascading fountain- after a little research, I think that I've determined that the one shown on B&B is actually that at the Kern estate in Beverly Hills. The house was designed by George Washington Smith in the 1920s, although I don't know who designed the fountain. In fact, the fountain graces the cover of Jeff Hyland's
The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills. Now really, any soap that shows the fountain at the Kern Estate can't be all bad, right?

The Great Cascade at Peterhof

The Marly Cascade at Peterhof

The Dragon Cascade at Peterhof

A detail shot of the Terrace Cascade at Peterhof

A cascading fountain at Chateau de Villette in France that was designed by Le Notre.

The grand Neptune Fountain at Villa d'Este, Tivoli.

An old photograph of the cascading fountain at the Kern Estate, Beverly Hills. Ridge's rose petals certainly had a long way to travel.


  1. And of course the cascade at Chatsworth, which is stunnning.

  2. Columnist- Quite right! I tried to find decent photos of it, but the only ones I could find would pose copyright issues.

  3. Arnaud Chevalier9:18 AM

    That is so romantic: "Ridge's rose petals certainly had a long way to travel"
    Thank you for that dreamful post!

  4. Arnaud, You're welcome. And thank you for the kind comment!

  5. Here in DC we have a GREAT old park called Meridian Hill Park which has an enormous cascading fountain. If you google it you can pull up the impressive pictures of it but I have some shots from above and some others of the park on a blog post from last year -i think you'd appreciate it!

  6. Fantastic post... I love all of the extravagance... the gardens at Villa D'Este are really spectacular. I spent a day there after leaving Rome and I really don't think those fountains could have been more spectacular.


    The most eminent Jane Austen blogger posted about the Chatsworth cascade (all copyrighted but we can sneak a peek).

    Great post!

  8. Daffodil- I just visited the site and those photos of Chatsworth are beautiful! Thank you for the link!

  9. Anonymous2:46 PM

    In fact, the Kern Estate is now the residence of the Bell family, producers of that soap opera.

  10. Anon- Thank you so much for this info! Now it all makes sense. Not that I know the Bells or anything, but I love them. They also produce my other fave soap Y&R!

  11. Jennifer-
    I never fully appreciated the design aspects and beauty of a cascading fountain until you brought their beauty to light in this post. I have admired them but I took their unique beauty for granted.

    I have seen the fountains at Peterhof and they are truly magnificent. One thing that is remarkable about them is that they all work without the use of a pump. Natural springs supply the water that collects in a reservoir in the upper gardens of the Palace. The difference in height between the upper gardens and lower gardens creates enough pressure to drive the water through all 170+ fountains and 4 cascades throughout the nearly 300 acre grounds. It really is awe-inspiring.

    But after contemplating the simple beauty of the less powerful, rose-petal carrying cascade fountain of your soap opera, I am intrigued and want to see it in person. Thank you for this post.

  12. Kathy- Thank you for your comment. How lucky that you saw the Peterhof fountains in person!

  13. An excellent post, Jennifer.

    There's another grand hillside cascade north of Chicago in Lake Forest, Illinois, designed by Charles Adams Platt a hundred years ago for Edith Rockefeller McCormick. Platt created Villa Turicum & its gardens as an out-of-town escape for the brilliant & troubled McCormick, but the house was never occupied and after the McCormick's divorce & Edith's death, it gradually slid into decay. Its vandalized remains were finally torn down in the 1950s, but fragments of Platt's original gardens remain scattered among the several different properties that were created from the estate.

    In the last decade or so, a section of the original cascade--basically, the part that didn't slide down the hill and end up in what used to be a swimming pool at the lake's edge--has been restored by a local couple that built their own house where the villa once stood, and these days, more than half a century after it ceased to exist, Villa Turicum has its own fascinating blog.

  14. Simply Grand- I visited Villa Turicum's blog. Stunning!!! The restoration of the fountain is breathtaking!

  15. Anonymous6:24 AM

    The Kern Estate fountain looks alot like the fountain in the Rod Stewart classic The First Cut is the Deepest filmclip.