Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Get the Look: The English Garden Gate, 10 Ways

Search

Get the Look: The English Garden Gate, 10 Ways

December 12, 2017

As English garden designer Ann-Marie Powell put it, “Gates are the portal between public street and a secret garden space.” They are the visitor’s first and last interaction with a garden, and so a good gate—one that is beautiful, useful, and in keeping with the style of the space where it stands sentinel —will leave a lasting impression.

English garden gates in particular have a certain hold on the imagination. We love their unmistakably recognizable silhouettes, from the blue iron gate that leads to the rose garden at Sissinghurst to the gates of our literary imagination, including the picket-edged cottage gardens of every Miss Marple novel and the locked gate of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.

The good news? You don’t need to live in England to get the look. Here’s a cheat sheet of garden gates of all shapes, sizes, and styles:

Photograph by Britt Willoughby-Dyer for Gardenista.

Borderline Gate

  The term &#8
Above:  The term “gate” originates from the Old Norse word gat, meaning opening or passage. Modern gates can delineate the edge of a property without obscuring the view of what lies within. Here, stone gateposts ensure this gate isn’t going anywhere.

The half-moon design on this borderline gate elevates it to something charming: as Stafford Cliff writes in his book 1000 Garden Ideas, gate design should be thought of as “a chance to add a little design flourish that would be inappropriate on a larger scale—like a stamp on a letter.”

Five Bar Wooden Gate

The five-bar field gate with diamond bracing, shrunk down for a domestic setting, lends this garden a rustic, solid air that is in keeping with the timber-clad house beyond. One fully expects a gaggle of geese to poke their heads through at any moment. Who was Tom Clarke? I don&#8
Above: The five-bar field gate with diamond bracing, shrunk down for a domestic setting, lends this garden a rustic, solid air that is in keeping with the timber-clad house beyond. One fully expects a gaggle of geese to poke their heads through at any moment. Who was Tom Clarke? I don’t know, but I want to go in and find out.

Scalloped Picket Gate

wooden gate green reverse arch by Britt Willoughby DyerAbove: The sage green of this gate melds beautifully with the mellow color of the high stones walls alongside. With no top rail to shuck off rainfall, this gate may not last as long as its more refined and sturdy counterparts, such as the tongue and groove gate, but its scalloped top line makes a stylish frame for what lies beyond.

“Secret Garden” Gate

In the classic children&#8
Above: In the classic children’s book The Secret Garden, the locked boundary to the garden in question is in fact described by writer Frances Hodgson Burnett as a door rather than a gate. The mystery of a door in a wall remains a powerful symbol: English garden designer Jinny Blom put a “door to nowhere” in a gap in the wall of her London garden. “The hide and seek of not knowing what happens next makes the experience playful and intriguing,” she writes in her book The Thoughtful Gardener.

Arched Gate

An arch is a triumphal symbol, and the style this gate references its ancient antecedent, the rounded Roman arch that offered quiet support to a surrounding structure.
Above: An arch is a triumphal symbol, and the style this gate references its ancient antecedent, the rounded Roman arch that offered quiet support to a surrounding structure.

English Cottage Gate

This gate has a touch of the Gothic about it, with a pleasing echo of the front door of the house. Note too the way that the span of the gate exactly matches the width of the porch of the house, with the gables pointing down to the gateposts.
Above: This gate has a touch of the Gothic about it, with a pleasing echo of the front door of the house. Note too the way that the span of the gate exactly matches the width of the porch of the house, with the gables pointing down to the gateposts.

Half-Moon Gate

Half-moon gates are generally inviting to the casual snooper, but this one has a sting in the tail, with wrought iron spikes filling in the empty space. This gate says yes, you may look, but don&#8
Above: Half-moon gates are generally inviting to the casual snooper, but this one has a sting in the tail, with wrought iron spikes filling in the empty space. This gate says yes, you may look, but don’t even think about trying to climb me.

Double Gate

Garden access is a thorny problem, as anyone who has tried to do significant building work on a plot will attest. A double gate is the perfect solution, allowing mowers, mini diggers, and everything in between easy access.
Above: Garden access is a thorny problem, as anyone who has tried to do significant building work on a plot will attest. A double gate is the perfect solution, allowing mowers, mini diggers, and everything in between easy access.

Traditional Picket Gate

The cheerful, traditional picket gate is unpretentious, welcoming, and thrifty. It may not last as long as the home whose boundary it marks, but it is the perfect perimeter marker for cottage gardens.
Above: The cheerful, traditional picket gate is unpretentious, welcoming, and thrifty. It may not last as long as the home whose boundary it marks, but it is the perfect perimeter marker for cottage gardens.

Woven Panel Gate

Woven panels offer tantalizing glimpses through willow or reed, but won&#8
Above: Woven panels offer tantalizing glimpses through willow or reed, but won’t give passersby a chance to ogle your grubbiest gardening gear. The weaving won’t last as long as the gate it is set into, but it can be renewed every few years.

N.B.: Learn more about English garden gates:

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0