Great Garden Gates

– Posted in: Garden Adventures

Scottie gate resized

The door has swung open on a new decade, so I’ve decided to swing open some garden gates. See if you don’t agree that each gate hints at the garden beyond and the owner’s personality and style.

My dog’s silhouette is similar to that of a Scottie, so I’m starting with a gate I wish were mine. I like its color and watering-can door knocker, too.

Veg gdn gate resized

This fence surrounds a vegetable garden. Can you tell the owner also enjoys growing and arranging flowers?

Potager gate resized

Bienvenue to the potager of a French chef who loves to entertain. The fact that each fence post has a different finial hints that Monsieur Grumel doesn’t take himself too seriously.

French villa resized

And speaking of France, this gate leads into the courtyard of a French-style villa in Rancho Santa Fe. The gate suits the architecture, and light-colored gravel behind the ironwork makes the pattern stand out. From here, you can see and smell a field of lavender.

Allen gate resized

The white gate compliments the roses and other perennials that my friends Bill and Pat Allen enjoy growing. Their initials are in the gate’s wrought iron, and their home, a gabled stone cottage, looks like it belongs in a fairy tale.

Elaborate wrought iron and bright red geraniums are in keeping with the thick walls, white plaster and terracotta tiles typical of Spanish-style architecture. Doesn’t this gate make you want to explore the sundrenched garden beyond?

This gate, sheltered by an angel’s trumpet tree (brugmansia) is in my neighbor, Cindy Payne’s, yard. Beyond the gate is her daughter’s garden and playhouse…

…Cindy’s sister, professional artist Julia C.R. Gray, painted a butterfly on the post. A butterfly net adds whimsy.

This gate—or rather the wreaths—appear in my books, Designing with Succulents and Succulent Container Gardens.  Succulents tolerate growing conditions that would fry most plants.

A gate here in Escondido, CA, leads into the tropical garden of palm collector Jeff Yaeger. Jeff ornamented the gate with round-head brass nails and sheets of brass cut to size.

No surprise that this San Diego garden has an ocean view and the owner collects sea-themed items.

Before there was a gate and wall, the house, on a downward slope, was exposed to passersby and a busy street…

…And here is how the same gate looks from the home’s front door. Now the terraced garden is completely private.

Summers Past Farms, east of San Diego, is a great destination for gardeners and families. The sign on the gate shows owner Sheryl Lozier’s sense of humor.

Last but not least, a gate by Ingrid Rose, once one of San Diego’s most brilliant garden designers. This blog post is dedicated to her memory.

Debra Lee Baldwin
Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored the Timber Press bestsellers Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified. Debra is a regular contributor to Sunset and other publications, and her own half-acre garden near San Diego has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens. Debra specializes in showing how to use architectural, waterwise and easy-care succulents in a wide variety of appealing and creative applications. www.debraleebaldwin.com.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin

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Darla January 7, 2010, 5:14 am

I have never thought about connecting one’s gate to their personality and style. These are somefantastic gates here and how I would love to stroll through the gardens!!

Thank you, Darla. A great gate does set the stage for the garden beyond. Debra

Shirley Bovshow "EdenMaker' January 7, 2010, 5:18 am

Hi Debra,
Great selection of gates. Love the different personalities and styles.
Shirley Bovshow

Hi, there, Eden Maker. Why don’t you do one of your Garden World Report online TV shows on gates? Debra

Lisa at Greenbow January 7, 2010, 5:57 am

Each and every one of these gates has such character. What an inspiration to anyone that is thinking about a new gate.

It does make you stop and think: What sort of a gate might I design that would encapsulate the character of my garden, and/or my personal style and taste? Debra

Debi January 7, 2010, 7:54 am

Stellar gates! I cannot choose just one as a favorite as each hold great appeal in their individuality. Such fun – thank you! I feel warmer looking at all the flowers and sunshine as well.

Hi, Debi — High praise, coming from such an accomplished photographer. I love the way your photos each tell a story, and offer intriguing insights into the natural world. Debra Lee Baldwin

Pam/Digging January 7, 2010, 7:54 am

I love how garden gates simultaneously set a garden apart and invite you in, plus they always reveal a bit of the gardener’s personality. These are great examples. I did a post on peekaboo gates myself last month: http://www.penick.net/digging/?p=5383

Yes! Anyone who craves more great gates should definitely see Pam’s lovely photo essay on her blog. Debra

Janet January 7, 2010, 7:57 am

These are wonderful. I especially like the seahorse one. Such a work of art.

Hi, Janet — It’s fun, isn’t it? Hey, interesting fungus on your blog. I don’t know what I’d think if I ran across it in my garden. Debra

Liz (aka Nutty Gnome) January 7, 2010, 8:25 am

There are some great and quirky gates there, but I think my favourite has to be the last one – so simple yet so elegant!

I like the blue-green gate dusted with newly fallen snow on your blog, Liz. Lovely. Debra

Nancy Bond January 7, 2010, 8:38 am

These are all beautiful, but I think I like the first and last ones best of all. Great inspiration here. :)

Thanks, Nancy — Love the snow shots on your blog, btw. Debra

misti January 7, 2010, 8:48 am

The angel trumpet one is making me wish I had a nice late spring warmth right about now.

There’s nothing like angel’s trumpet to create a dreamy mood in the garden. It’s a fantasy plant come to life. Debra

Teresa O January 7, 2010, 9:49 am

Wonderful picture story. Each gate harbors a secret garden that I’d love to sneak in and explore. I found myself imagining what the gardens looked like beyond the gate.

Yes, these gates are invitations more than barriers. Debra

Hilda January 7, 2010, 10:51 am

Gorgeous photos! When fencing is used for strictly utilitarian purposes, it’s so easy to forget that the gate can be a design feature in its own right. I have to admit my gates are functional and boring — both are located in narrow side yards that I’ve never turned my attention to.

Hey, no pressure! Debra

Mr. McGregor's Daughter January 7, 2010, 11:36 am

Great post! I’ve been thinking a lot about my gates since fall. Now I can’t wait until spring to gussie them up.

Well, now we hope you’ll take photos and blog about it! Debra

Marlene January 7, 2010, 2:44 pm

This is one of those posts that sets the wheels in my brain a-spinnin’! I don’t have a fence or a wall around any of my garden but now I want a gate. Thanks for sharing these; now I must consider the possibilities. . .

Same here. I have a split-rail fence around the garden. No gate needed. I’ve always wanted a walled garden—well, ever since reading The Secret Garden as a child. Debra

Layanee January 7, 2010, 5:18 pm

Gates are closed opaque windows to each garden, aren’t they? A little bit of information about what lies within. Love these shots.

Thank you, Layanee. I like a gate with enough mystery to make me wonder what’s beyond, but not so much that it feels unfriendly. Debra

Jack January 8, 2010, 1:14 am

Gates and gateways are one of the most effective and natural ways to ornament a garden, and you have chosen some lovely examples. A Great post!

Thank you, Jack. Btw, I enjoyed the lovely tribute on your blog to Phineas and Frans, who served as your foreman and assistant at Sequoia Gardens. Debra

Lois J. de Vries January 8, 2010, 4:01 pm

Hi Debra,

Great minds think alike :-) but with different points of view. I recently did a series of posts on rustic, antique, and custom gates: http://loisdevries.blogspot.com/search/label/Arbors%2FFences%2FGates

Lois, I really like the advice you gave in your post—hope you don’t mind if I quote it here: “For those with more modest purses, make a sketch of your idea and look for an iron-welding or other metalworks firm. Unless a metal artist is very well-known, his day job may be as a fabricator of spiral staircases, fire escapes, or other utilitarian objects.” Debra

Jane Auerbach January 8, 2010, 4:03 pm

Lovely photo essay, Debra! One of the gates most admired among my own photo collection is this handmade rustic gate in a Santa Monica garden.

Hi, Jane — I visited your Flickr page and your photos are gorgeous. That composition of succulents in the rusty urn (Robinson Gardens, Beverly Hills) is so good, if I’d known about it sooner, I would have asked you if I could have included it in Succulent Container Gardens. Debra

Dee/reddirtramblings January 8, 2010, 6:07 pm

Really lovely gates all. I have a few gates at my place too. I find I love them for rose draping. :) ~~Dee

Yes, but don’t you agree the best gates for rose or vine draping should be simple? You don’t want to conceal a gate that makes a strong design statement. Debra

Christina Salwitz January 8, 2010, 6:18 pm

What a lovely theme for a blog post!
I am always impressed at how creative people can get with the details of the garden that make them so individual and personal.

Thanks, Christina. And isn’t it nice to know that we can “collect” such things as great garden gates, without actually owning them? Debra

Connie Williams January 8, 2010, 6:38 pm

Ooooh! Nice article, Debra. The gates are all wonderful, but the last is my favorite…..a touch of mystery, yet just enough privacy, contrasting colors and textures…..really lovely!

Connie, you’re a wonderful artist—I treasure your comments. Yes, Ingrid Rose had a remarkable eye for design. And she was from England…can you tell? Debra

Whitney Freeman-Kemp January 8, 2010, 9:26 pm

This is a great collection of gates. And isn’t it amazing, the impact of just focusing on one garden detail and looking at all of its incarnations? I recently did a study of stone walls, but didn’t take pictures, now I think I should! What a great source of inspiration! Thanks for sharing!

Doors are wonderful, too. I was looking at a salmon-pink front door today on a Spanish-style home with clay roof tiles the same color—striking. I wish I’d shot more doors when in Santa Fe, NM. Debra

the inadvertent farmer January 9, 2010, 1:02 am

Wow…those are great! I have the wood sitting in my garage for 6 gates, you have inspired me to add a little personality to each, thanks! Kim

Hi, Kim — And you’ve inspired me as well. Re your Jan. 9 blog post, I love the reflections in chrome. My city (Escondido, CA) has a “Cruisin’ Grand” event once a week, where owners of classic cars park along Grand Ave and cruise this main street. Now, thanks to you, I can’t wait to take my camera and shoot some chrome. Debra

rebecca sweet January 9, 2010, 1:33 am

What a beautiful idea for a post – love the concept of a gate swinging open to the new decade! And I LOVE the ocean gate – just stunning!

Those succulent wreaths…gorgeous! I ordered one for Michelle G. (Fine Gardening) this past Christmas from a woman down your way (dessert succulents.com) and as we were talking she said some of her wreaths were featured in your new book – what a coincidence!! (she said you were just ‘lovely’, by the way…)

Thanks again for the great photographs!

Thank you, Sweet Rebecca! If I had a garden gate, it would definitely be adorned with a succulent wreath, or perhaps with a flat-backed pot filled with succulents. Debra

Jane Auerbach January 9, 2010, 5:24 pm

Thanks, Debra, for that lovely compliment! I’m honored that you’d consider my photos for your book, especially as I own “Designing with Succulents” and love the photography in the book.

As a Master Gardener, I visit a lot of amazing private gardens for our continuing education requirement, and have photos (much more than is online) encompassing some particularly gorgeous and/or unusual plants and plantings–let me know if there’s ever something particular you’re looking for.

BTW, since the HTML on the rustic grapevine fence didn’t work, here it is: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nowhereonearth/2684965148/in/set-72157607762820328/

Hi, Jane — Intriguing idea, and very colorful. Thanks! Debra

Lois J. de Vries January 9, 2010, 5:29 pm

Thanks for the quote, Debra.
Regards, Lois

And thanks for your good info! Debra

healingmagichands January 10, 2010, 7:10 pm

I love all those gates, especially the wrought iron ones. I wonder what you would make of the “gate” into my back yard that isn’t really a gate yet since the actual gate hasn’t been built! That actually gives quite good insight into the procrastinators and very busy people who live here. . .

Then there is the gate between the inner back yard and the outer part that is actually never closed now that Ruby has learned to stay in her own yard. That also speaks to the people who live here who get tired of opening that gate every time they need to hang a load of wash or go out to the vegetable garden.

I like the gates that are embellished with living plants, although I have to say that I have enough plants in the ground demanding my attentions (and not really getting enough) that it would never occur to me to put one on a gate in a container so I would then have to tend to it every day. I suppose it would never be neglected, though, since I go through my gates numerous times every day.

I’ve seen ivy growing on a gate that was opened and closed several times a day. The ropy stem of the plant was flexible enough to withstand the movement. Plants are nothing if not resilient! Debra

Jan (ThanksFor2Day) January 10, 2010, 11:34 pm

Great gates, photos and thoughts, Debra;-) I need to replace gates on both sides of our yard (next to the house) and this has given me food for thought. Mine needs to be quite simple but I have a couple of ideas already!

Hi, Jan –I love your wildlife photography and the premise for your blog—so uplifting. Thanks for stopping by, and do let us know how those gates progress, OK? Debra

commonweeder January 14, 2010, 12:01 pm

I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum in 2008 where they were having a temporary exhibit of garden gates created by local artists. Amazing.
http://www.commonweeder.com/2008/09/11/

Very cool. Thanks for letting us know! Debra

Jayne (Green and Serene) January 18, 2010, 12:16 pm

What a wonderful collection of gates. While I don’t think we could have a fanciful gate in our suburban neighborhood, you’ve given me the idea of creating a fence and gate within the garden, from the main garden to the, as yet unstarted side garden. Thanks for the inspiration.