Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Making a Grand Entrance

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression."
 Unknown quote

The cold, snow filled days of early winter are a perfect time for gathering ideas, looking through seed catalogues, and planning next year's garden. What wasn't working and needs to be moved? What new plants should be added? What needs to be updated and changed?

I am unhappy with the entrance to the garden at the very back of our property and that has got me thinking about garden entrances in general. 

Why fuss over the entrance to a garden? 

Well, for one thing, it is the first thing you see. It makes a statement right up front and can set the tone for the rest of the garden.

A garden entrance is also a perfect place for a gardener to express their unique personality and design aesthetic. 

The possibilities are simply endless. An entrance can be everything from rustic to sophisticated and formal, spare to romantic and vine covered.

Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans, with its bright orange flowers, covers the arbor entrance way in this Niagara-on-the-lake garden. While the vine is attractive and a magnet for hummingbirds, gardeners should plant Trumpet Vine with some caution because, it can be invasive.

Incorporating a structure like an arbor at the front of your garden can impart a sense of order to the natural chaos that is a cottage style flower garden. 

Covering that arbor with a flowering vine makes it all the more dramatic. The visitor passing through the arbor is enveloped by greenery on all three sides. 

I knew from the get-go that this garden in Niagara-on-the-lake was going to take my breath away.

Artist and interior designer Eleonora Roberts designed this arbor to echo the peaked shaped of the roof of her Streetsville, Ontario home. I will be showing you more of her lovely garden in the coming weeks.

Arbors can come in all shapes and sizes. They can also be opened or gated.

Private garden, Waterdown, Ontario. A Climbing Hydrangea covers the lower part of the wall on the right side on the garden gate.

A gate is a perfect place to display accessories like a bell, a welcome sign or a decorative wreath. The hinges, latch and handle are adornments that can dress-up even the most basic garden gate.

Building materials offer a wide range of design alternatives. If wood seems too rustic for your tastes, wrought iron is another classic option.

Gate at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, Ontario.

Garden gate at Canada Blooms 2011.

Private garden, Mississauga, Ontario.

Wood and metal can also be combined beautifully.

Private garden, Brampton, Ontario. A climbing hydrangea is on the left hand side of the gate and a Cotton Easter is on the right.

An unknown variety of Honeysuckle covers the arbor. Pink Bee Balm is in front of the arbor just to the left, Ligularia is the large leaf in front of the Bee Balm, and Gooseneck Loosestrife(caution invasive!) 
is the white flower in the right foreground.

Of course, not every entrance is at the front of a garden. A garden can be divided into "garden rooms" and can have an entrance or passageway that stands at the doorway to each of the rooms.

Private garden in Burlington, Ontario. The white flower with the greyish-green foliage that 
can be seen in the background is self-seeding Lychnis coronaria 'Alba'. 

A more rustic approach to an arbor at the We're in the Hayfield Now Nursery.

Here a hedge forms the walls of the "room" and the rustic arbor is the doorway.

This is one of the gates that David Tomlinson has used in his garden called Merlin's Hollow. An arbor stands at the entrance to each of the four garden "rooms" at Merlin's Hollow.

The same gate from the other direction. The perspective created by the arbor's geometry adds a greater sense of depth and distance from one room to another.

A closer look at one of the passageways at Merlin's Hollow. Pink columbine has self-seeded itself in the middle foreground and a pink Beauty Bush blooms in the background.

An unknown variety of Wisteria covers the arbor.

In this Mississauga, Ontario garden, an arbor marks a doorway leading to a patio area.

Plant materials can be as varied as the entrance way itself. This gardener in Georgetown, Ontario has used annual Morning Glories.

This Brampton, Ontario gardener has used roses to great effect.

There are so many options for creating a garden entrance that the hardest part is trying to decide among them!

What should I do to re-vamp my back gate? It is time to get dreaming...


  1. What a beautiful post. Now I want to get out & garden!!!!!!!!!! sigh, 4 months and counting...

  2. Lovely garden gates and arbors!
    Happy New Year!
    May 2012 be a great year in the garden!

  3. I start with wishing you a brilliant 2012. The entrances are a beautiful welcome.
    gr. Marijke

  4. A fantastic collection of garden gates. Just lovely. I hope you find inspiration to your own future garden gate.


  5. Sigh...oh so beautiful. I really need a gate in my arbour..have said so for years. Maybe this is the year. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Going to Canada Blooms?

  6. Happy new year everyone! I hope that you had a great holiday. Bren, to be honest, I was a bit disappointed with last year's Canada Blooms show, but still I wouldn't miss it for the world! After all, it breaks up a long winter.

  7. Wow - you have chosen such beautiful pictures to emphasise your post theme - I wouldn't know which to chose between them if it were my garden. Love the first Clematis picture - I have a soft spot for them.

  8. All of those make a stunning first impression!! I have gates at each side of my garden and keep thinking about adding an arbor over them, but then get busy with other things and forget about it. You've got me thinking again :-) Mine would need to be wrought iron, and I fear will need to be custom made, so possibly pricey. But I know it will add so much.

  9. Hmmm, yes, you've got me dreaming too! Thanks for all the inspiring eye candy. Wishing you a beautiful garden in 2012!

  10. I love extra deep entrance arbors or the repetition of a form if there is room. Gorgeous thought provoking images. Must dust off the table saw!!

  11. You have provided a lot of inspiration with your lovely photos! I remember when I put an arbor at the entrance to the patio. I think my husband thought I was nuts at first, but now he is a huge fan of it. The arbor is beginning to show age and will need replacing before long, and he is the one talking about what we will replace it with! I love how it frames the views in that area. Good luck with your own entrance. I know it will be beautiful!

  12. 1. Just last night I was thinking about how I wanted a metal arbor to go over both of my gates and here you go posting a fabulous bunch of pictures to make me dream and drool. It's official - you're psychic!

    2. As for the gate maybe you're just tired of seeing the same thing and need a new view. Howz about changing the door? This might sound weird, but what if you found an old head board from a bed and had it cut down to fit your gate width? It would be a cool way to recycle, the dogs would have a chance to see through the gate, which they would love,and it would be unique. Metal or wood would work and you could even paint it or let it develop its own patina. I would love to do the same thing with my gates.

  13. Jennifer, you've got oodles of ideas here, so many wonderful photographs to peruse through. A gate and arbour for whatever your inclination. I'll be bookmarking this post for future reference.

  14. Again, happy new year to everybody and thanks for your comments!

    Tammy, you have hit on the part of the back gate that bugs me the most. I hate the door! Originally, it was to be curved, but when we installed it, I knew my whole concept for the gate just wasn't working and we needed a complete do-over.

    The lot behind us is vacant and its future is uncertain. The property is designated "protected valley lands", so hopefully there will never be a monster home or tall building. The view out the gate is very pretty and so I would like to see more of it than the short gate currently allows.

    Tammy, I like your idea of re-purposing an old metal headboard. It is very creative and definitely something I will keep in mind when we visit flea markets next spring and summer.

  15. Gorgeous! All of them. Oh, I so want a vine covered arbor! I'm determined to get one! Thanks for all the inspiration!

  16. So much inspiration in your post! Now I want a garden gate but I have a mostly open concept garden. I will need to find a way to incorporate such a structure. I look forward to reading more...

  17. I want to linger over this post and spend some time on each photo -- there is so much to see and learn looking at the beautiful compositions. For now, just a quick comment to let you know how much I am enjoying all these ideas. Now I'm going back to study each gorgeous picture!

  18. Great post Jennifer! I don't think I would cover your lattice work on the sides of your arbor, it is very decorative. I am pleased with the effect I get from planting different varieties of clematis on my pergola and arbor, early ones and later ones. I love the large type 2 flowers but some years the rabbits eat them to the ground. I do type 2 Fireworks along with type 3 Autumn Clematis, cut down the type 3 in the fall, and so far it has worked out great.


  19. Wow those were some fabulous gardens. Way to much work for me but oh so beautiful.
    Sorry to have not visited in awhile but like you I too took a holiday break. - Wishing you a Happy New Year!

  20. What a wonderful and useful post---so many great entrance ideas. Happy New Year.

  21. This is such a beautiful series of images Jennifer!
    I especially love the first one. Simply gorgeous!!

  22. Gorgeous photos on this grey, colourless day! I love the hollyhocks in the header.

  23. The expectation begins at the arbor gate! Lovely photos!

  24. You have me dreaming already, Jennifer! These are fantastic ideas--simply beautiful. Every one of them is so inviting, I want to peek inside the gate and stroll further to see what lies beyond.

    A belated Happy New Year! It may be awhile before we can start gardening again, but it's a great time to dream and plan.

  25. After doing some research here are the fragrant daylilly varieties that I'm adding to the garden: Resurrection Yellow, True Heart, Sue Rothbauer, and more Sunday Gloves. I already have Hyperion, which is fragrant and tough as nails. I planted a Sunday Gloves last fall but haven't seen any flowers yet so I don't know the fragrance smells like, but it's supposed to be fairly strong.

  26. You asked about which of my hosta are fragrant but I'm rotten at remembering the cultivars names. I think the fragrant one came from a friend, so I don't even have a plant tag to look back at. I know hosta 'Guacamole' is fragrant. I hope that helps. :o)

  27. Greetings from Southern California

    I am Your Newest Follower

    Take Care & Have a Nice Day :-)

  28. Fabulous beautifully photographed entrances to the gardens. The Rose arch of the Brampton, Ontario gardener is totally outstanding.

  29. Jennifer, you have been busy visiting gardens. Did you see them all this year? I would like to add an arbor to my garden but the placement has been a problem I have yet to solve. I don't know what it is you dislike about your gate entrance (perhaps you have posted about it before) but I think it is lovely.

  30. Check out Toni's garden at She has two windows cut into a wooden fence that would make fabulous gates! Another idea!!

  31. You have provided so many beautiful examples of entrances and arbors in this post! I am especially smitten with the arbor with the blue-violet clematis and the rose allee. I think your back entrance looks wonderful.

  32. You really have collected many fine images of garden gates and entries. I think this area is filled with them on both sides of the border. This is a great post filled with ideas.

  33. Fantastic series of images. I wish I HAD a garden so that I could display the beautiful arbors I see in these photos.

  34. Jennifer you have really shared a wide range of garden entrances. I had wanted to put an arbor in my garden and haven't found the right place (the garden is so open) nor found the right arbor. I am a sucker for roses on the arbors. Love it!
    Good luck finding yours.

  35. Thank you for your comments everyone and special thanks to Tammy for the plant lists and the link to Toni's blog. Patty, you had a question and I had to look back through the photos to get you an answer. Two of the gardens came from my first year of blogging and the rest are from this past summer. Yes, I see lots of gardens! What can I say, I love taking pictures of flowers and gardens.

  36. What a beautiful post. Gorgeous gardens, brimming with ideas and oozing inspiration.


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