Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop – Entrance Gardens

– Posted in: Garden Design

Front of House early July 05

This month’s Design Workshop topic was inspired in part by Great Garden Gates, a recent post by GGW Regular Contributor Debra Lee Baldwin. In there, she shared a gallery of photos showcasing over a dozen great-looking gates: some cute, some quirky, some classy, and all inspiring. Gates like these do double duty, adding personality to their gardens and making the experience of entering the gardens into an event.

Gate into labyrinth midJuly 05Here at Hayefield, I have lots of fences and hence many gates, but most aren’t the charming kind: they’re utilitarian wooden and metal gates for getting animals and equipment in and out of the pastures. The half-dozen gates to the garden and meadow aren’t all that photogenic, either, largely because I have a habit of propping them completely open or removing them during the busy part of the gardening season so they don’t get in my way. Still, I love the idea of gates as entrances and transition areas, and I enjoy the experience of opening and walking through them in other people’s gardens.

Of course, gates aren’t the only way to welcome visitors and mark transitions in the garden. Plain old posts (sans gates), arbors and arches, containers, and ornaments are other objects that can grab attention and say “Come on in!”

Linden Hill Gardens

Dramatic plantings, too, are an elegant way to frame an entrance, drawing the eye and inviting visitors to see what’s on the other side.

Cady's Falls Nursery

So, how do you like to dress up the entrances to your home and garden?

  • Pot Narcissus and Muscari May 5 06Have you created plantings to mark the end of your driveway or to flank your front walkway?
  • Have you turned part or all of your front yard into a garden to create an attractive, welcoming setting for your home? (We’ve covered the topic of front-yard gardens before – you can find the posts here and here – but new or old posts on the subject would work for this month as well.)
  • Have you chosen a special arch or arbor to accent a street-side entrance or a transition area within your yard? (We’ve had a GBDW on this topic too – the link is here – but feel free to share new or old posts for this topic too.)
  • Do you have a favorite way to bring the garden up to your front door, with pots that change with the seasons or a variety of garden-related accents and ornaments?

If you’d like to share your ideas for this month’s Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop, write a post on anything related to entrance areas on your own blog and give us the link below, or simply leave a comment if you don’t want to do a separate post. If you’ve written about the topic in the past, those links are equally welcome; it’s not necessary to create a new post to participate.

I’ll gather all of the links into one summary post for easy reference. It’ll go up on March 30th, so please try to get your links in by the 27th.

If you’re interested in checking out previous Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshops, you can find them here.

Nancy J. Ondra
Nan gardens on 4 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In the firm belief that every garden ought to have a pretentious-sounding (or at least pretentious-looking) name, she refers to her home grounds as "Hayefield." There, she experiments with a wide variety of plants and planting styles, from cottage gardens and color-based borders to managed meadows, naturalistic plantings, and veggies--all under the watchful eyes of her two pet alpacas, Daniel and Duncan.
Nancy J. Ondra

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9 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Sylvia (England) March 4, 2010, 5:25 am

Great topic Nan, we planted two conifers either side of a new front path when we moved in (10 years ago) but they have overgrown the path. Middle age spread? Soon the postman will have problems getting between them, especially as they have suffered this winter and branches are sticking out! I wish I had planted Irish yew which can be cut back. Gates are not allowed – unfortunately as I love gates. Looking forward to seeing the posts.

Best wishes Sylvia (England)

Your story brings back memories of the two arborvitae that flanked the front door of my childhood home – a lesson in the consequences of poor plant choice if there ever was one. But it’s just so easy to forget that cute little plants can quickly grow up to be monsters – unless, of course, they are very rare or expensive, in which case they are likely to die within a season or two.

Frances March 4, 2010, 7:09 am

Hi Nan, this is a wonderful idea for posts! While we have notebooks full of gate shots and drawings even, and ideas swirling, we have no gates. But we do have entrances, although they do not get the attention or design they deserve. I look forward to seeing inspiring posts that might help correct that. 🙂

I look forward to seeing what we get this month too, Frances. Hopefully some of our readers can pull something from their photo archives. It’s tough finding good subjects for this time of year.

Dave March 4, 2010, 8:38 am

I think I can jump in on this one! I really like that last picture of the green grass pathway through the rustic fence with the weeping trees. It just invites you in to the garden. Where did you take that photo?

That’s from Cady’s Falls Nursery in Morrisville, Vermont. They have gorgeous gardens and even more amazing plants.

Cameron (Defining Your Home) March 4, 2010, 8:54 am

Great topic and I look forward to seeing what is posted.

Visitors have to walk through our cottage garden to get to the front door. I think I’ve already covered this (ad nausem) with last month’s on fences where I showed the two gates in my front cottage garden, which is our entrance to the gardens. I do have one more gate in a vine-covered arbor between the fragrance garden and the pool, but that’s hidden away from the front entrance.

We are doing a makeover of the guest parking area. I’m no where near writing a post on that one until spring gets here and I can get to work. No one uses the guest parking until our family parking area is filled up, so I’m converting it into a garden (permeable paving instead of solid paving).


Quite right, Cameron – your post Garden Walls and Fences works perfectly for this month as well. Your new project sounds very intriguing. Maybe you could write it up at some point and come back to leave us a link?

Gail March 4, 2010, 9:29 am

This is a great topic. I’ve been wondering just how I can utilize a gate or entrance to this garden…It’s a suburban lot and as such has limits so the posts shall be mined for ideas! gail

I hope you find some inspiration, Gail. Maybe you’ll share some as well? C&L certainly appears to be a welcoming place to visitors.

Jayne March 4, 2010, 2:35 pm

Great post Nan, We have a typical suburban home with an open front yard and a fenced in back yard. We haven’t been in there long, but I’ve done some work on the large foundation bed that the builder put in. You can see what I’ve done here:

Thanks for the link, Jayne. Your project may have turned out to be more complicated than you expected (as tends to happen with gardening projects), but you must be very pleased with the results.

Matti March 5, 2010, 5:00 pm

Wow, 2nd to last photo…anybody know what those tall weeping conifer trees(?) are? Matti

I don’t recall, Matti, so I’d hoped someone would chime in with an ID. If anyone does, I’ll e-mail you the info.

Jay Chua March 8, 2010, 1:11 am

wow..beautiful. Thanks for sharing Nancy.
I live in the city, and this is something a city man always dreamed of..retired and live in magic kingdom like this 🙂

I am particularly fond of the green garden entrance. It also gives me some ideas on how to re-design by backyard.

Thanks Nancy, and look forward for more beautiful garden, yard pictures + postings

Jay Chua

Thanks for visiting, Jay! I’m glad you found some ideas for your own yard.

Claire, Plantpassion March 8, 2010, 4:31 pm

I planted a wildflower meadow on the verge outside my gate last year, no more mowing for me, and the spring crocus are just appearing with muscari to come. my posts were and

Wonderful, Claire – a great solution for a troublesome site. Thanks for sharing the links.

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