Meet your new home, little Snow Fountain

Through heat and humidity and even a little drizzle, my dear wife Karen and I finished the weekend mission in the front yard of our Little Bitty in the Syracuse city neighborhood of Eastwood.

All we needed was a spade, wheelbarrow, potting mixture, wanna, a metaphorical X to mark the spot and, the star of the show.

Click on any photo in a gallery for a description.

After the careful planning, I grabbed the shovel and started the digging. Karen had researched how large she wanted this hole to be: About twice the size of the ball left with our new addition.

My first task was to remove the grass from the spot. I attempted to keep the chunks as big as possible, and Karen carried them to spots — mostly in Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle’s backyard domain — that could use a little turf-building.

Grass out.

Grass out.

Then the real work started. I knew I needed to make this hole as deep as the ball of the new arrival, and also loosen the earth underneath that depth for a good bit of breathing room as well.

I removed two wheelbarrows worth of earth to the most remote spot we could find in the backyard. I filled a third as it rained upon us. It was quite a hole.

Measuring down.

Measuring down.

Much to my surprise and delight, Karen said she thought I’d gone deep enough with my digging. We carefully dropped our new baby down to check. And my dear wife was right.

Purchased the day before on our return trip to Hafner’s Garden Center in North Syracuse, the little Snow Fountain was almost ready for its new location.

We bettered its odds by filling the bottom of the hole with half a bag of Miracle Gro potting mix, full of nutrients and stuff trees and plants love. Then Karen added the remaining half bag to our earth taken out of the hole.

This we placed around the Snow Fountain in the hole. OK, I had to go back to the pile out back for more of our dirt. Twice. I tilted the wheelbarrow, and Karen placed and patted, gently, until she was satisfied. It had stopped raining. She watered with the garden hose.

I asked for my picture to be taken with our new arrival. After our several hours of hard work, my dear wife politely declined my request to pose.

Our cherry tree and me.

Our cherry tree and me.

Yes, in the two weeks since our scouting trip to check out the various species of cherry trees, we’d changed our minds about the size and where we wanted to put our piece of the memory of our Easter Weekend getaway to Washington D.C. 2015. Instead of a bigger Snow Fountain that would grow taller than the fence that borders Good Neighbor Tim and his Wonderful Wife Lorraine’s backyard, we picked the small version up front instead.

We don’t have to worry about Ellie B digging it up. We became more and more enamored with the thought of its white petals taking their spot in the blooming rotation between the yellow forsythia and pink crabapple, with the bright fuchsia peony on deck.

It gives depth to the front of our Little Bitty. We hope.

Up front with the new Snow Fountain.

Up front with the new Snow Fountain.


Here’s the link to my post about cherry tree picking.

Here’s the link to my post about our trip to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

What’s the biggest hole you’ve dug, and for what? (OK to think metaphorically. Would you have stayed with the backyard spot or gone with the front, and why? What’s your favorite photo, and why?

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70 thoughts on “Meet your new home, little Snow Fountain

  1. When I bought my first house in’78 I felt the need to “update” the finger system to my septic. I dug a trench 50 feet long, over 4 feet wide and 4 feet deep. I think the front yard was the better choice. Share your little lovely with the neighborhood. My fav shot is the one with proud Papa standing by the new arrival. I hope you and dear wife Karen have many years of pleasure with your Snow Fountain.

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    • That was a lot of digging, Benson. In the first house in another life the septic went, and the only choice was to have a big yellow Caterpillar dig it up. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Yes, this spot and this tree will make us happy for a long time, knock on wood, thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. You’re so cute, Mark. Oh, that wasn’t the point, I realize. I’m so glad you didn’t install an actual fountain. What a pain those things are at least in my garden. But I can’t seem to do without the sound of running water. Anyway, back to the point. Of course you placed it in the front where all of its glories can be shared with the neighborhood and it will brighten up the Little Bitty each spring. Be sure to give it a good layer of mulch before winter sets in. You knew that, I’m sure.

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    • Thanks for all of your points, Barbara! ๐Ÿ™‚ The reminder about the mulch in the fall will be heeded. As soon as the special watering is done, this new tree circle can be red-mulched along with the hourglass garden it sits so near.

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  3. Aww that’s so nice. I planted one in GA but it didn’t live but a few years. A real disappointment. I think it was too hot there for it. Even though I watered it.Was really pretty though.

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  4. Planting trees is a lot of work. We’ve planted some seedlings – but when it came time to plant to 8-foot pear tree that we bought, we paid the nursery guy to not only deliver it but also to plant it for us. It was worth the extra money – as we get older, my husband and I are less and less willing and able to do the heavy work.

    Your little tree is going to look fantastic in your front yard.

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    • I agree that planting trees is a lot of work, CM. The delivery and installation was a wise move for you and hubby. This baby was only four feet? Three? Anyway, it fit inside the SUV.

      Our skinny little crabapple of three springs ago was at least eight feet high. We had to leave the back gate open, I hung on for dear life the four blocks up from the big box, and Good Neighbor Tim demonstrated and loaned me better tools to dig the hole, which did not need to be nearly as wide though deeper. (A big metal rod to loosen the earth! I’d never even seen that. Yeah, that was a harder dig, and I was younger then. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  5. Beautiful little cherry tree Mark. It is a wonderful addition to the Little Bitty. That was a fine hole you dug mister. I can say that with confidence as I am a hole aficionado. ha! I have always loved holes in the ground Mark and find myself drawn to them where ever I go. As i have grown up, I have had very little “reason” to dig holes but when i was young I was a virtual groundhog – digging everywhere I could. One spectacular hole was dug by my friend Doug and myself in an empty, undeveloped piece of land adjacent to a local church in Moncton NB. The soil was sandy and the digging easy. I was about 10 and we got the hole so deep that we had to dig stairs in the side to get out when my Mum called us for lunch. I can clearly remember the minister ringing the door bell while we were eating (creme of tomato soup and toasted tuna sandwiches). he spoke with my Mum and said that some of his parishioners cut across that empty lo on their way to service and asked us to please fill in the hole. I am ashamed to say that the image of elderly people disappearing into the hole one after the other in a Monty Pythonesque manner cause me to giggle at his request. My Mum was upset both by the visit and by my apparent callousness, She chastised us and we had to go and fill in our masterpiece a soon as we were done lunch. She could see the yard and the hole from the front window so there was no faking it.

    The hardest hole I’ve ever dug was 4 feet deep and about 18 inches across to set a basketball pole in cement. It was beside our driveway and 6 inches of topsoil covered heavy clay. It took me hours to dig it even with the right tools. Our neighbor decided to install the same pole shortly thereafter and he only dug down about 18 inches – he scoffed at all my effort as being a waste of energy. But his hole was insufficient and within two ear it started to lean – and he had to take it down a year later before it fell on a child. The most amazing hole I’ve ever seen has to have been the Grand Canyon. I classify it as a hole because of its sharp edges, the view of the layers of earth down the far side. and the fact that both sides are about level. I don’t know if you have ever seen it up close Mark but it is awe inspiring. For the first time in my life I realized that as I stood there on the edge, I no longer had the perspective that I was looking AT something – but rather it felt as if I was above looking down on both myself and the canyon. Incredible. it is so big that I did some ciphering and realized that you could pile in every human who had ever lived and every building we had ever built in history and still not fill the canyon.

    Over the years I have had some odd encounters with holes – some even funny. I lived for a while in a subdivision in suburban Ottawa. One day i was going to the local grocery store when i noticed a work truck and a half a dozen men standing around a small hole in the parking lot. I had to walk over to see what was going on and realized that they had uncovered an old steel pipe sticking out of the ground . They had dug around it in a 3 foot circle about 2 feet deep – so it stood like a miniature flag pole in the middle of the hole. One worker was stepping down into the hole with an acetylene torch – the tanks being secured on the truck bed. I asked what they were doing and the supervisor explained that this pipe was breaking through the pavement every spring and damaging cars. So they had been tasked with cutting off the pipe well below the surface to prevent that from happening again. As the worker lit the torch – i asked in a surprised voice: “Are you sure you want to do that?” they all looked at me quizzically as the supervisor asked “:Why Not?”. “Do you know where the pipe leads?” ” No, but what difference does it make?” “Well, I haul gas for a living and that looks suspiciously like a fill pipe for a fuel storage tank. This may have been a gas station at one point and the tank may have been left in the ground. There could be gas fumes in that pipe and you might blow yourselves up if you touch it with that torch.” they all looked at the pipe and the guy with the torch turned it off. I left them all standing quietly pondering the pipe.

    Another time, i was trucking in Newfoundland one very wet and rainy spring. There were many feet of snow melting in the pouring rain one day when I came across a road closure. The Mounties were directing all the two lane highway traffic into a local restaurant/ service station. I parked and walked over to ask the Mountie what the problem was. He told me and I had a hard time believing him, so he directed me to walk up the closed road to see for myself. Sure enough there was a loaded Department of highways plow sitting in a hole where the road used to be. It was so deep that only the flashing blue light on the roof showed above the pavement on both sides. the road itself was gone. Apparently a culvert under the road blocked with branches and the rushing water hollowed out all around the outside of the culvert and when the heavily laden plow drove over the road collapsed, dropping the truck straight down 12 feet. There was no alternate route around this hole so we had to wait for two days while they built a dirt bypass around the problem area.

    Another time when I was in university, a car fell through a local road in Halifax and into an underground stream. When the authorities (and a bunch of us curious students) arrived to look into the hole, we realized that the underground stream ran from the nearby public park – for the car was surrounded by quacking ducks floating in the stream and inside the partially submerged car.

    Anyway Mark I could go on but this is way too long already. Just to say that you dug a fine hole as assessed by a connoisseur of holes. ๐Ÿ˜€

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    • As always, you amaze me with your depth of knowledge, Paul. In a short time since I posted my little story that included one hole, you wrote a whole recap of your history of holes and how you dig them, literally and figuratively.

      As a kid, my friends and I also dug a down-fort in the woods instead of going up for a treehouse. They were more of the pioneers of this project, a bunch of brothers all just a few years apart and all around my age. It was directly behind their house, maybe 25 feet back into the woods. They threw plywood up on the sides of the hole and over the top so nobody had to worry about the earth collapsing — and for privacy from their mother, I suppose. Anyway, the only downfall from their well-laid plans, as I recall, was how that sucker quickly filled up at the first Long Island summer downpour.

      Two yards up from their house, on the edges between our yard and that woods, was the saddest hole that I’ve had to dig. That’s where my first dog, Taffy, still lies in the earth where I dug his final resting place. He passed when I was 14 and he was 10. I had no help at all for that one. My little sisters were 6 and 4, standing above the hole crying with me as I worked the shovel.

      I’ve often thought that whenever I saw somebody dig such a narrow and deep ditch that it would be difficult to maneuver the tools in such a constricting space. Good for you to do it properly to support the basketball post, and not surprising to me at all.

      I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, Paul. What a hole that must be to the eyes and the soul. The memory of it brings out the stat man and storyteller in you, both!

      Thanks for the whole hole story, Paul. I dig it, too.

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      • That is such a heartbreakingly sad story about Taffy, Mark. Some holes are sad, for sure. I’ve buried a few of our kids pets but they were all creatures like fish and rodents (hamsters, guinea pigs, etc.) – not the same as a beloved dog or cat. When I was growing up my Dad buried and pets that passed. I only came to that task as an adult – it breaks my heart to think of a young you and your sisters having to bury your dog.

        Thanks for the memories and the great response. After I wrote the comment I realized that it would make a better post than a comment, but I let it it go. Thanks for your understanding.

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      • I think it made a fantastic comment, Paul. The Hole Story. Thank you as always for that one. And for this one. Yeah, we kids had a tough time with Taffy’s demise. Interesting about my memories of it: No parents involved after my father’s stern warning at the start to dig the hole deep enough for health reasons and my mother’s eye roll at him. Then they both left us kids alone.

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  6. Lovely placement!
    I would rather not think about metaphorical holes, because all terrible, whereas gardening holes are joyous!
    I think you made the right decision in choosing the front. I add the prettiest bits to the front of my house. Realtors call it curb appeal, I call it smiling from ear to ear when I come home. My house is just so happy looking and that’s part of the energy you want when you come home. Pulling into the drive, smiling at the tree y’all added, ready to enjoy the peace and comfort of home ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • I like your curb appeal attitude, Joey. My dear wife Karen and I used to really enjoy the show of that name on HGTV, in fact, and you never saw the crew of fixer-uppers concentrate on the backyards of the lucky recipients, that’s for sure. (Oh, how I wished they’d come to my block and pick the Little Bitty.) Yeah, the little Snow Fountain will make me smile at every driveway pull-up from here. Great energy spent on planting day for greater energy delivered thereafter. I’ll take it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. Fav pix: measuring down
    This looks exactly like what life is… a hole that you’re trying to fill but never seem to get it exactly right hahahahaha .. u keep digging and measuring and filling. Then dig and measure and fill… forever.

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  8. Nice, I hope you show us the progress of that tree. Have to say, I like the pic of you with the tree. Such a sense of accomplishment. As for the hole I dug, I’d have to go with that body….oh never mind!!

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  9. I think you picked the perfect spot for the tree. two favourite photos – karen pointing out where to dig ( this is exactly how Steve and I garden!) and the final photo. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • I love that you and Steve garden the same way as Karen and I, Rachel. Imagine how great it would be if we were neighbors! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for giving me a big happy thought today.

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    • You must make sure to take care of your health still, No. 1, Kim. Nevertheless, seeing you feel good enough to post again, and release your new book, has been one of the best things about May, my friend. โค

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  10. Mr. & Mrs. B, this is so impressive. Your teamwork paid off. I love the pictures of the whole process showing the before and after. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am so happy for you. The tree will have great significance in that it will take you back to DC every time you look at it and will be enjoyed by you for many years to come. Amazing what planting a tree can do to your psyche. Looking forward to following its growth. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thanks, Mrs. B. It was quite an adventure, from start to finish. You’re right. It will remind us of our D.C. trip every blooming spring! And I’ll be sure to show it off with photos, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  11. You must name the tree Mark! Maybe put it out to your readers?
    I think you guys made the right decision for a smaller tree in the front. It does add depth.
    Are those crocs on your feet? โค
    Diana xo

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  12. Well done Mark and Karen, a great achievement by you both, teamwork can never go wrong.
    Would love to see its progress over the years, at least with the pics you both can look back on your memorable occasion.
    Cheers.

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  13. nice work, the two of you. not an easy task. tree and it’s location look great and really add something special to the yard. i hope it gives you many years of enjoyment –

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  14. Such a great way to remember your Washington D.C. trip with cherry blossoms each Spring in your very own front yard. I love the way you both work to make a special yard and place to feel at home at. The plants and grass look so bright and ‘new’ with Spring blossoming in many parts of your yard. It does give ‘depth to your front yard,’ Mark!

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    • After careful consultation with Karen, Rachel, we think you mean either the square wheelbarrow with the dirt-Miracle Gro mixture in it, the plastic pot the tree came in from the nursery, or the shovel I used to dig the hole. ๐Ÿ™‚

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