Garden Gates

Enter Into The New

As the new year stretches out before us fresh and full of possibilities many of us pause to mark the transition with resolutions, lucky foods and personal traditions.  These actions help frame our expectation of what the new year will bring.  We approach the new year nearly holding our breath in anticipation of what will come.

I feel this way standing outside a garden gate eagerly anticipating the  sights, scents and textures to be discovered once inside.

Perhaps your introduction to garden gates was courtesy of Beatrice Potter’s Peter Rabbit,  “but Peter, who was very naughty, ran straight away to Mr. McGregor’s garden and squeezed under the gate!”  Gates and fences serve a very useful purpose in protecting the treasures of the garden from all manner of dangers.  Yet gates at public gardens vary greatly in style, purpose and degree of anticipation.

Some gates are barriers, closed tight with no openings to allow even a view.  A solid gate connected to  fence it forms a barrier all the way around the garden.  Other gates are nearly transparent latched but open in design giving full view to the green just inside.  Some gates are merely symbolic designating an ideal starting point for exploring the garden though other entry points are readily available.  The gate serves as the place to pause and consider what a visitor will find within.  As a garden visitor, do you rush past? The work of a landscape architect may be the feature of the garden space yet stop and consider  the gate designed by an equally talented artist.

In New Harmony, Indiana a set of gilded gates designed by sculptor Jacques Lipchitz  frame the entrance to the walled garden of the roofless church.  Large, ornate and regal.   Inside beds of flowers and lush green grass surround  a contemporary architectural wonder open to all who care to enter.

In the high mountains of Vail CO, a figurative tree provides an entrance point to a colorful alpine garden.  With no lock or walls the gate serves only to announce former first lady Betty Ford as the honoree of this special garden.


Natural materials are often fashioned into gates reinforcing the value of treasures found in the garden that can be incorporated into our daily life. In Mendocino, CA  branches frame the gate leading down a garden path.

The Filoli Estate Garden of Woodside, CA replicates the curved entrances found in Ireland  defining boundaries and lord of the manner status.

Ornate iron work makes an unmistakable statement of grandeur at the Oldfield Estate in Indianapolis, IN.


Welcoming the new year with thought and anticipation before rushing in is a good tradition for many of us.  As you visit gardens in the coming year, take a moment at the garden gate to enjoy the artistic work that invites you in and frames your expectations.

originally published in Roots & Shoots


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