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     Marijke & Piet.

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Replenishing the Turtle-island lakes, bird bath

Topping up or replenishing the Turtle-island lakes in the front garden is a semi-automated task. During these hot summer days, due to evaporation and the dozens of birds (and cats aahhh) drinking and bathing, the water level in the lower reservoir can quickly get too low. Too low, not as such an immediate danger to the birds but to our pond- or fountain pump. We would not want it to run dry.


This small pond, or perhaps more a bird bath, is one of the great joy’s in the garden. Not only for the birds but perhaps even more so to us. We really enjoy the diversity of birds that come to drink and bath in this small pond, every day again, even during the winter.
Currently we have one blackbird that comes to bath itself some 5 times per day, sometimes sitting in the water of the ‘upper lake’ for over 5 minutes. In a later post I will show some of the bird diversity.

The idea for this scene was based on an advice given in the Sakuteiki and inspired by the high laying lakes we have seen around the world, specifically those of the Azores Islands.

Visualize the famous landscapes of our country and come to understand their most interesting points. Re-create the essence of those scenes in the garden, but do so interpretively, not strictly.

In: Sakuteiki. I. The Basics (p. 152) in Sakuteiki: Visions of the Japanese Garden.

The Azores islands are actually the peaks of several of the tallest mountains on the planet, breaking the surface in the mid-Atlantic (as measured from their base at the bottom of the ocean). This is a group of 9 relatively small but high islands. Most of them have one or more craters, that form the highest points on the islands, filled with water and hence are large deep lakes.

Source: www.azores.com

Unfortunately the photo’s we made are on slide. I do not have a proper scanner so hence this Azores photo is not one of our own pictures. It does however show verry wel the essence of the landscape scene.


The ‘lower lake’ is the reservoir from where the ‘upper lake’ gets filled up. The “lower lake” contains about 200 liter (52 gallon US) water and needs to be replenished substantially during hot periods in the summer with little or no rainfall as it can easily lose 10 liter or more per day. If the lower reservoir needs some filling up that is is done with a watering can. For a full or substantial replenishment we connect a hose to the irrigation outlet on the island that normally contains a sprinkler. We unscrew the sprinkler and connect a hose to it, as shown on the photo. Then we switch on the garden pump and it will take only 5 minutes or so to completely fill it up.


The water in the “upper lake” gets continuously replenished and refreshed by a small fountain that takes the water from the “lower lake” that serves as a reservoir.

The construction is based on the overflow principle that we also use for the main garden tsukubai.

Related: the front garden, Turtle Island lakes construction, Constructing the Main Tsukubai and Turtle Island lakes, Watering supply and irrigation or sprinkler-system.