Photos: Great Garden Gates

Give your garden a good start with an irresistible entranceway.

A traditional brick home is complemented by a wrought-iron gate. Keep plantings simple and orderly to stay on theme.

Give your garden a good start with an irresistible entranceway

I can’t help but confess to a secret sense of anticipation when opening any garden gate. I like the latch’s click, the wood’s clunk, or the metal’s clang. I like how a well-crafted gate swings neatly. And I always wonder…What lies within? What kind of garden will I find? Perhaps stemming from childhood readings of A Secret Garden, this feeling is utterly inescapable.

Gates are not only practical, but clearly qualify as garden art. In fact, when some years ago I was drawn to one – a gorgeous rustic black with an inset wrought-iron grill crafted by B.C. artisan Dave Coyle – I didn’t even need a gate but bought it anyway. To this day I keep it propped against the fence of my patio garden as a funky and fabulous creative statement. Tiny white lights behind it add to the intrigue in the evening, suggesting a passageway beyond.

As a front gate welcomes us into a garden, it also hints at the owner’s style. Within a yard, gates create focal points or beckon beyond. Either way, a well-designed gate – whether it’s wood or metal, painted, powder-coated or au naturel – adds allure to any entranceway and is one of the easiest approaches to adding intrigue to your garden.

Gates with a fresh country feel are perfect with old-fashioned perennials.

For centuries, Chinese garden designers have used stone moon gates to separate – and frame – garden sections. This wooden version is at home on the West Coast.

Put a focal point in your gate’s frame, if possible. A handsome brick wall is set off by a simple wooden gate with heavy iron hardware.

This eye-catching gate works well with contemporary or traditional architecture. Its smoky-purple hue is picked up by the New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax ‘Atropurpureum’) beyond. Equally attractive companions would be lavender, rosemary, sedums and blue-leaved hostas.

Adding a wrought-iron grill and matching black hardware to a simple cedar gate gives it more style and is relatively easy and affordable.

Above and below: An arch above the gate offers support for climbers, such as honeysuckle, clematis and roses.

Spice up a simple gate with vertical strips of wooden trim.

Spice up a simple gate with a coat of bright paint.