Because the fountain’s seeming simplicity belies the complexity of its design. Because the builder meticulously positioned the stone for untold hours to achieve the intricate chrysanthemum pattern. Because the design conserves water as much as it celebrates it. Because the Arizona flagstone’s buckskin hue echoes the home’s adobe walls. Because circular swaths of lavender and sage radiate from the fountain like ripples in a pond. Because every garden should have a surprise at its center.

Designers Tony Exter and Mark Bartos of BEM Design Group in South Pasadena, Calif., had their clients going in circles over this flagstone fountain — and they couldn’t have been happier.

The centerpiece of a Southern California front yard, this chrysanthemum-shaped waterfeature, surrounded by a ring of flagstone slabs, inspired the circular patterns found throughout the garden.

“The idea of the flower itself came up rather spontaneously,” says Exter of the 4-foot-diameter waterfeature. “We tried to develop something symbolic of the plant material in the garden.”

The fountain’s three-tier bubbler sends a gentle spray of water into the air, which then percolates through the layer of vertically stacked flagstone into an underground basin. Echoing the traits of the garden’s drought-tolerant plantings, the fountain uses a minimal amount of water.

“We wanted the [water basin] to be covered by the stone work,” Exter says. “It cuts down on the evaporation … and gives the illusion that there’s more water being used.”

To achieve this effect, contractor Tom Poplin of Horizon Landscaping in Pasadena first excavated a 4-foot-wide-by-10-inch-deep basin, which was covered with a pond liner to hold the source water. Poplin then began the painstaking process of tightly laying the stacked stone end to end atop a metal support grate.

“It was a bit labor-intensive,” Exter says, “but we felt the overall effect would be worth it.”