Entrance at the entrance
A first experience can set a standard or expectation for what is to come. Be it in business, a new friendship or the first time visiting a place.
Any discussion about landscaping would not be complete without considering the garden entrance itself.
In her 1918 book Garden Ornament, Gertrude Jekyll explains that “an honest relationship must exist between the entry and what is entered.” The phrase “honest relationship” is of course subjective but giving a bit of thought to the design of your entrance will go a long way to helping it tie in with the rest of your landscape.
An entrance is a transition point between the outside world and your garden or different areas in your garden. This portal may even be a point at which the garden style changes hinting at what lies beyond. For example if you have a walled oriental style garden, a circular Chinese moon gate suggests what lies behind it and as you get closer you can see through the ‘eye’ of the gate confirming what you expected.
The decision to have an entrance gated or not will be determined by the role it is to serve. If it is simply to identify the preferred way to approach the property or another part of the garden, then a break in a hedge or fence will suffice.
If the entrance is a break in a garden bed, a structural element may be required to identify its purpose. A post or pillar each side of the entrance, possibly with a short section of fence each side works well and a pathway through or from the entrance helps.
Gates, on the other hand were once constructed to protect cities and estates from marauding hordes or wild animals. They are still used as a part of the security for individual or collective properties. The level of risk in the neighbourhood will determine the style and construction of the gate. A simple gate, while not providing significant security, will indicate to the public that your garden is your private space. Many years ago, I lived in Brunswick, an inner suburb of Melbourne. My garden was small though intensely landscaped and planted. We didn’t have space to gate our off-street parking without compromising the design. As a result, access was nor restricted people would often be found in our garden, wandering around or taking refuge from the blasting sun on the way home from the shops. What really took the cake was the day we returned home to find a bridal party adding to their wedding photos in our front yard. It was a cheeky kind of compliment.
When installing gates, whatever material they are made with, the most important consideration after design is the support posts. If the posts or their foundations are inadequate for the gate, the gate will sag, preventing it from closing or swinging fully. Then it will be left open and not perform its’ role properly. Also, many of us have reactive soils which will swell and contract according to the moisture content. This will affect the posts and therefore the gate function. The more reactive the soil, the more substantial the gate foundations need to be.
Garden entrances also offer a great opportunity to introduce an artistic element to your landscape. Wrought iron, masonry and timber are materials that offer structural integrity with the ability to be manipulated into a work of art. Arbours, bridges or even a change in the path material will tell a visitor that they are entering a new space.
Your garden entrance is the front door before the front door. With a little planning, you can make it something special.