The Best Garden Gates for a Great 'Entry Experience'

Writing about portals allows me to wax philosophical.

Portal = entryway = moving into a new space = change of venue = a new outlook...

In other words, a portal announces that you are about to have a new experience which may change your perspective on things.... Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, an entry experience is the transition from known to unknown.

And like that long rabbit hole, if you elongate or expand the portal area it makes the transition even more tantalizing. How to do that, you ask?  The best answer is through pictures....

The gate above was in a property that I redesigned...The clients loved this old garden gate so we renovated it with new hinges, roofing and paint.  I installed a bluestone threshold beneath and extended it out into the peony garden. The gateway leads down into the new pool area and therefore I salvaged the existing brick steps as well. 

This is a portal supreme. Overhead roof makes a grand statement. The white color stands out against a green world. And the steps extend the entry experience - the transition time - and allows you to survey the pool area below as you enter.

(BTW, the steps also announce your arrival. Like Scarlett O'Hara descending the steps to a waiting retinue, a visitor's entry can be viewed by all lounging by the pool...not exactly the same effect for sure but the impact of entering from an elevated point is the same....)

If are interested, that is Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki' or Japanese Dappled Willow on both sides of the brick steps. It is a great plant for pool areas as its striking white-green foliage moves in the breeze and brightens up any sunny area. Cut it down to a foot or two above the ground in late fall and watch it grow back through the summer!

Too much of a good thing can spoil a scene and so it is with grand portals...Here is the second entry into the same pool area (a contained space should always have at least 2 access/egress points, if physically possible..), it is a simple white gate that leads to a set of steps ascending into the pool zone.  This is not meant to be an elaborate entry, rather it is a quiet spot, off to the side.

I placed two pots of purple annuals on top of the wall...These protrude above the fence and add a bit of color to entry.

This portal is more of a suggestion rather than a command.....

above gate, wall and garden designed by Johnsen Landscapes & Pools ( click on link)


  1. Very nice! Very inviting feel of a new adventure beyond the gate. Beautiful! I've turned my Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki' into a standard form because space was limited. Nice color

  2. Oh I love this description of the portals! Paricularly because I love the experience of transition and transformation. You, again, describe for us the experience of the sacred and the spiritual in natures designs and your designs with nature. As always, you inspire us all to touch and feel the experience of the garden -- the serenity. Thanks for this.


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