The Power of a Garden Portal
A garden gate is a portal that signifies a transition into a new space and experience. Like Alice looking down the rabbit hole, a gate leads us from the known to the unknown. And, like that rabbit hole, if you elongate or accentuate the portal, it makes the transition even more tantalizing. Here is a variety of garden gate styles that illustrate the “power of the portal.”
The Covered Gate
The old gate shown here was renovated with new hinges, roofing, and paint. I installed a bluestone threshold beneath the gate that extends out on both sides. Thresholds are very important because they prevent soggy, compacted ground beneath the gate, and they visually invite people in. That white shrub on the right is Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’ (dappled willow).
The Surprise Gate
There is nothing sweeter than turning a corner and seeing a small, surprise gate, especially if it is nestled among yellow-flowered hibiscus shrubs, as the one shown here. The lattice gate allows the breeze to flow through and is like a secret passage into the rest of the property. Hidden gates are fun features that make an excursion through a garden all the more interesting.
The Rustic Arbor
This naturalistic portal, fashioned from cedar logs, was designed and built by David Robinson of Natural Edge. There is no gate or threshold, just an opening that you pass through. It serves as a visual cue that you are entering a special place. In this case, it leads into a magic woodland garden I designed that is complete with a cascade, an artful fountain, ferns, Hosta, oakleaf hydrangeas, and more. The plant in the front right is Geranuim macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’ ( bigroot geranium).
A Circular Moon Gate
A moon gate is a round portal that speaks of mystery and delight. An unusual moon gate is in the Chinese garden at Naumkeag, an estate from the Gilded Age, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Designed by Fletcher Steele, the moon gate, built from red brick and gray fieldstone, was added in 1956. It is said that a moon gate brings good luck to all who pass through it, so a visit to the Berkshire Mountains and the stunning Naumkeag may be just what you need!
A Salvaged Gate
This enchanting gate was salvaged from a window security grille in New York City. A fence company did the renovations—a metal base plate was added to increase its height, hinges were attached, the metal was painted black, and an entry latch was installed. This gate leads into a landscape I designed. The fence it is attached to helps keep deer out.
A Solid, Double Gate
This is a good example of a simple-arched, double gate (you can only see one side here) that connects to a wall. The gate handle appears to be a one-of-a-kind metal loop. The pineapple finials atop the flanking columns are a colonial symbol of hospitality. The view out to the ocean from here is magnificent.
A Blue Picket Gate
This picket gate helps keep deer out of the garden. It is in a landscape I designed, and it is wide enough to allow lawn mowers and carts through. The property owner chose the blue color, and it looks great at all times of year. I added the long Belgian Block “apron” so that the ground here would not get all chewed up by machinery.
Jan Johnsen’s new book, Heaven is a Garden is available now! Also, visit Serenity in the Garden, her blog about plants, gardens, landscape design ideas, and more, where she shares 40 years of design and horticulture experience.