November 16, 2008

In Search of a Garden Gate

I've always had a fascination with gates. Like a pretty envelope waiting to be opened, a garden gate extends an invitation to look inside. I willingly accept the offer, curious to know more about the garden beyond.

A garden gate can be as individual as the gardener. It becomes part of the garden as much an object of art or a special plant.

After our house was finished in September 2005, I went in search of a garden gate. The doorway in the gable wing wall of our steep, "catslide" roof cried out for something cottage-inspired. I wanted a gate to echo the storybook appeal of the asymmetrical roof, stone chimney and cedar shakes.

For months after the house was built, I searched local antique shops and salvage shops. I talked to craftsmen in the area about making a gate. I never imagined that finding the perfect gate would be so difficult!

Finally, in March 2006, I found an online company called Pacific Gate Works in Oregon. Pacific Gate Works handcrafts custom gates from Western Red Cedar as well as iron.

Although I was concerned about ordering a gate online, the process went smoothly due to the personal attention from the company. With a wide variety of styles from which to select, I narrowed down my choice to the reverse arch from the Old World Collection, but was unsure of the proper height.

Tom Ellingson guided me through the project via email. I sent photos of our house to him. Tom suggested a height for our custom gate to fit the scale of the doorway. He emailed draft drawings and measurements to me for approval. Once the design was finalized, our gate was made and shipped to us by freight.

The cedar gate, with hardware, arrived in perfect condition and I stained it to match our cedar shakes. The price of the custom gate, including shipping, was far less than any other premade or antique gate that I had found in my search.

Immediately, I knew that we had added the right cottage gate. The patio was suddenly transformed into a private, outdoor room. The path through the cottage garden now has a destination focal point to pique the curiosity of our visitors.

Moving through the gate from the bright, sunny, cottage garden to the patio, the sound of the waterfall amplifies. I feel as though I'm stepping into a different world. The patio now feels secluded, lush and tranquil.

The perfect gate can transform spaces into favorite places in the garden.

Photos and story by Freda Cameron unless otherwise indicated. Thanks to Pacific Gate Works for their assistance.

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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