“ Brand: Ambienté / Type: Bird Bath „
THINKING ABOUT A WATER FEATURE My husband and I have thoroughly enjoyed our garden this summer, and we still are. This is surprising really as spring came so late to the U.K. and summer certainly looked dubious. But the season has turned out well and we are having the hottest and driest summer for a few years. I have been very pleased that we put the time and effort, as well as expense, into our garden. But sitting in the garden, sipping at a glass of Rioja, and looking around, I thought that there was just one more thing to add to the garden to complete it, or at least one more thing for this year. I was thinking of some kind of a water feature. After all, what can be more relaxing when sitting in the garden on a warm summer's day, or evening, than listening to the trickle of softly running water? But we don't have yet have a power supply in the garden which limited our choice somewhat.Our garden now has many sets of solar lights which work well and we have been very pleased with these but I did wonder if a water feature run by solar power would work efficiently and be worth the cost of the feature itself. JUST WHAT I WANTED Once the idea was in my head I had an on-line search for solar powered water features. I really had no idea of what was available. After quite a thorough search I had a look at the Primrose web site, remembering that I had already purchased bark screening from this site. The ordering process was easy and the company certainly seemed reliable. I saw just what I wanted on this site but before ordering I first had a good look around for a bargain. There were a few solar powered water features that appealed but I thought that the most suitable for our garden and our pockets was the 'Ambienté Victoriana Solar Water Feature Bird Bath With LED Lights.' I thought this purchase at £99.95 was perhaps a bit on the extravagant side really. I did think that I should maybe abandon the idea, so I gave up looking for a week or so. However, the thought of some sort of water display persisted. I told a reviewer friend of my wish for a water feature and she said that she used to have one in the garden of her old home and she missed it now that she had moved house. I went back to the Primrose site and noticed a request for customers' photos showing products purchased from the Primrose site in customers' own gardens. Primrose will pay for these photos if they are deemed suitable for their site. I considered it was doubtful that they would want any of my photos from my small, ordinary garden, but I thought I would send them through some photos of the bark screening, which I had previously purchased, just in case. If they did decide to buy then that would be like getting a discount on my water feature, I thought! While I was waiting to hear if they wanted any of my photographs I decided to take a chance and go ahead with this purchase. If I was going to buy this item I thought there wasn't much point waiting as the weather could change; I wanted to enjoy the feature now while summer was still here. The website did in fact buy some photos from me and so, in a way, this made my purchase seem not so expensive. After a few weeks of enjoying my fountain I again emailed some photos and these were also purchased. Altogether, the fountain wasn't such an expensive buy, in my opinion. ORDERING I knew how to order from the site as had already ordered bark screening from this company. I had found it simple to order and so on this second time of ordering the process was even easier. However, the bark screening had been delivered by Royal Mail and was free but there was a charge of £4.95 for this particular item which would be delivered by courier and should arrive on the next day. DELIVERY I was kept very well informed of the delivery process both by email and text messaging. Tracking is available but I didn't need to enter any details myself as I was kept well informed without there being the need to track. On the day of delivery I was sent two text messages, one saying that the order had been despatched and a further message saying that my order was with the courier and gave his name and also said that the package would arrive between 10.30 and 11.30 that morning; if I wasn't in it would be left in the pre-arranged safe place. The order did arrive within this time frame. I received an Email containing the same information. I thought that Primrose gave an excellent delivery service. PACKAGING The item was delivered by DPD courier and Dave the named courier carried it into my hallway. It arrived in a large strong cardboard box and on opening this well-sealed box I could see that my fountain was carefully packaged in both plastic and polystyrene. The box was fairly heavy but not too heavy for one person to lift, although being large it was just slightly awkward but that's to be expected with an item of this type. ASSEMBLING There were several parts to the water feature and these needed to be fitted together. Assembling this water feature was very simple and straightforward; it didn't take long at all. I would say it took no more than ten to fifteen minutes. No tools were needed to assemble the body but my husband did use screw driver to help with fitting the batteries in the solar panel. One bowl (reservoir bowl) had to be fitted to the pedestal and then the top bowl or tier (sprinkler bowl) had to be fitted, and then came the solar plate. The pump had to be fitted onto the solar panel which fitted to the very top of the feature where it would catch the sunlight. All three pieces of the fountain/bird bath proper interlocked. The water could now be poured under the solar panel and under the top tier. The manufacturer, Ambienté recommend that the water feature be left to charge for two days so that the pump can fully charge before use. The batteries have to be placed into the rear of the solar panel. INSTRUCTIONS The small instruction leaflet which is included was quite good and definitely adequate. Instructions for assembling the unit are numbered and each stage is simple to follow. All parts of the feature are shown on diagrams and are numbered and labelled. OPERATING Once the unit is fully charged it is ready to go. It really is so simple to use. We tried out the various nozzles/jets and liked the one that gives a good fountain spray. There are three fountain jets which give a choice of a different amount of jets (7, 12 or 13). The fountain can be programmed to come on at the same time every day and run for two hours but we prefer to just turn it on when we are out in the garden. I like the on/off mechanism which is a small magnetic switch that is camouflaged on the rim of the top bowl. It simply needs to be removed from its place in the rim and run over the panel to switch on or off. It can then be replaced in the fountain. SOLAR POWERED A big plus for us is with this water feature is that it is solar powered. Even if we had an electricity supply in our garden we would choose a solar powered device as this makes the feature more economical to run as well as it being environmentally friendly. The Victoriana water feature has a battery back-up. Most days that we have wanted the fountain to be operating have, in fact, been fairly bright but now and again we have sat outside when the day has been overcast and it is reassuring to know that the fountain will work even if there hasn't been much sun around to charge up the feature. The battery back-up will help purchasers to get many days of enjoyment of the fountain. We were pleasantly surprised by how well this water feature works when it is solar powered. Several guests have also shown surprise that it isn't run by conventional energy. The water flows well and the lights are bright and stay on for as long as we have required them to. APPEARANCE SIZE: Height 79cm (2ft 7in) Diameter 53cm (1ft 8¾in) The website refers to this solar water feature as a birdbath but I call it a fountain. If a bird went onto it when it was on it would get a shower rather than a bath but I expect birds are more likely to bath or drink from it when the fountain is off and we aren't around. I haven't caught my resident robin performing his ablutions in the bird bath yet, and he certainly isn't shy! The fountain has a classic look and is of a green/grey colour. Judging by its name it is obviously modelled on Victoriana. The water feature is made of a strong and heavy plastic but it has the appearance of stone. It isn't too heavy that it can't be moved but it is solid and weighty enough to not be easily knocked over and it would take a heavy wind to move it too. I like the appearance of this fountain even when the fountain or lights aren't in operation. It still looks attractive, in my opinion. I chose the Victoriana over a few other solar features that were in my price range, as I felt that some fountains by their shape, somehow reminded me of gravestones, whereas this particular model seemed more '''secret garden''' than '''memorial garden''' to me. LIGHTS I chose this fountain for the solar powered fountain effect rather than the lights but I can now say that the lights are a lovely feature. They definitely are an added bonus. When dusk approaches, and the fountain is operating, the fountain lights up. I was so pleased when I first saw this water feature light up. It actually put me in mind of sparklers fizzling on top of the glass of a summer cocktail drink. It is very pretty indeed. The LED lights are positioned under the water stream and so the fountain is lit from underneath. This gives a somewhat magical effect. PRICE/AVAILABILITY The Ambienté Victoriana solar bird bath is available from: Primrose ( www.primrose.co.uk). I paid £99.95 plus £4.95 postage and packing. It is also available from: www.amazon.co.uk for the price of £104.90 http://www.topcashback.co.uk for £159.99 http://www.all4gardening.co.uk for £122.90 MAINTENANCE The Victoriana bird bath/fountain is easy to clean and to maintain. Really it is virtually maintenance free but we have tended it a little. And the water does need to be kept at a good level to keep the pump working well. The feature can be wiped clean with a damp cloth as can the solar panel. Instructions are given for pump maintenance. The manufacturers recommend using a product such as 'Fountain safe' which will help with maintenance by slowing or stopping the build-up of algae in the feature when added to the water and frost free so that water in the fountain doesn't freeze. If water in the feature does freeze then the expanding ice could cause cracks in the unit. I think we will probably disassemble the fountain and store it safely away for the winter. OVERALL I love my water feature. I asked my husband today, while we were enjoying our garden, along with a glass of wine each, if, now that we had become used to the water feature, if he thought it was worth the money or had been an extravagant purchase. He replied that he thought it was worth the money as it had, in his opinion, enhanced our garden and we have (and hopefully will for some more weeks) enjoyed seeing and listening to the fountain, and our guests also seem to have enjoyed the feature. We discussed its merits and both thought that the following points are worth mentioning to any possible purchasers: The Victoriana water feature has a two year warranty. Orders from this company can be returned within sixty days. The fountain was delivered the day after ordering. It is solar powered but with battery back-up. The feature is economical and environmentally friendly to run. It is frost resistant. The white LED lights are an excellent addition to this water feature. The water feature adds the finishing touch to any garden small or large. In fact I think it would also look good on a balcony or veranda if there is a sunny spot to place it in so that it can soak up the sun and recharge.