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 The road to optimism is paved with gratitude.  Today is a holiday dedicated to gratitude. Gratitude for the garden, For simple pleasures, like just baking a loaf of bread,  For loved ones most of all! Happy Thanksgiving, with optimistic hope 2021 is much better than 2020.

Too Many Gates/Garden Wide Views August 2020

 Rose 'Earth Angel' (Not a gate, not a wide view, but...pretty.)

One odd feature of our garden is an inordinate number of gates:  six.  
No gates out front:
Gates are a fine garden feature:  they make a visitor pause and look around.  Seductive fragrance and small-scale details right at a gate make that pause interesting.  From a distance, a gate is both a frame that contains a "picture" (what is beyond the gate)  and an architectural shape which surrounding plants complement and ornament.  All that is great, but what if you have six gates? Lots of pauses, not so welcome when you have a bucket of clippings in one hand and a lopper in the other.  

Lately I've been considering all the garden gates, and whether or not they are sufficiently pause-worthy. 
Front gate:
 Looking back at the front gate:
 The front gate plantings looks decent from both sides.  This is a highly visible and well trafficked portion of the garden, so it's gotten plenty of attention.  Austin roses 'Windermere' on one side, and 'Tamora' on the other, offer sweet fragrance.

Next gate at the entrance to the veggie/cutting garden:
 Through that gate, then looking back through it:
The veggie/cutting garden gate looks great from one side, not as good from the other.  From the first side, it is an important long view into the garden and I've worked for a long time to make it a beautiful view.  For fragrance, 'The Ambridge Rose' is within nose-reach.  

Inside the veggie/cutting garden looking back...the 'Perle d'Azur' and C. viticella Clematis on the left offer flowers in late spring and again later in summer.  The 'Cara Cara' orange tree on the right produces absolutely delicious fruit, and ripe fruit on the tree is very attractive.  A new crop of fruit is now developing.  When it colors up, it will be ornamental for many months.   Not to mention the scent of the citrus flowers, fruit, and foliage--did you know citrus foliage has a distinctive scent, and an interesting one?  This is always a sweet place to pause, even if it isn't overly attractive.    
Next: entrance to the koi/patio garden:
 Looking back
The koi/patio garden looks good from the second side, and has improved on the entrance side this spring due to additions last fall.  A Cuphea (hummingbird food!) has just been added at the base of the very fragrant 'Firefighter' rose on the right.  A 'Rouge Royale' rose on the left offers another dose of sweet scent.  On the koi/patio side, Austin rose 'The Prince' flowers are conveniently nose-high.

Next: entry to the gully garden
The gully garden gate looks good from the entry side.  The Callistemons on the left, when in flower, put on a great show, and their growth is now screening out the house behind.  When the roses, Clematis, Gerbera daisies, or Zephranthes are in bloom, there are multiple doses of color and interest.  I've always thought two tall pots perched (and for safety, secured with an adhesive) on the top of the wall on either side of the gate would be a nice addition.  Something to try. 

It is difficult to do anything to beautify the other side of the gate, which is basically a landing for a stairway, though there is no real need, because there is a vista looking down at a good part of the gully.  It's a nice vista, and a dramatic surprise for first-time visitors to the garden ("There's more?!?")  
Looking back:
From below.  The fastigiate boxwoods are intended to eventually screen the pond equipment from the property in the back. 
 Views from the landing, looking east...
 ...and west:
Another gate in the koi/patio area on one side of the house is the entry to...what can it be called?  Utility space?  The place where the trash bins and bag of potting soil live.
 Looking back:
 Tough to do much with plants amid a lot of walls and concrete.  The location is tricky for plants as well--full shade most of the time, then an hour or two of blazing hot afternoon sun.  There are Bromeliads surrounding the 'Golden Xanadu' Philodendron on the house side and a wall plaque on the wall side.  Fragrance in late spring from the nearby Trachelospermum jasminoides vine.  I've worked to make a hanging basket of succulents a focal point but that hasn't worked out yet.  That hour or two of blazing hot sun has toasted several attempts.
Trying hanging basket yet again, this time with Crassula 'Campfire': 
Next: exit from utility space to enter driveway/garage area

The archway (gateless) to the right of the gate beckons:
 Looking back from the driveway:
 Not bad considering all the concrete.  The best time of the year is when the Callistemon 'Slim', the 'Snowgoose' rose, and the Bougainvillea are all in flower. They are visible from both sides of the gate. 
 Lastly, exit driveway/garage area to outer driveway/street:

 and looking back:

Again, a lot of concrete means plantings are limited.  Both inside and outside the raised bed currently need replanting.  So far I've emptied out one side. 
And now most of the other side:  a 'Blue Glow' Agave would fit.
 This gateway is yet another tricky place for plants--full shade, then an hour or two of viciously hot sun and reflected heat, then full shade again.  For a while there was a monster Fuchsia, pieces of which are now growing elsewhere in the garden.  The Fuchsia thrived, but constantly grew into the space, dropping flowers that got squished and sticky...dangling in the way, slaps in the face, leaves and flowers in the hair...ah, the memories! 

Why oh why so many gates?  Some of it is dog safety.  A lot of it is dog safety.  Most of it, actually, is dog safety.  A little of it is geology--the gully--and a little of it is building code.  

A gate on either end of the garage/driveway keeps dogs out when cars are going in and out of the garage, and when cars are not moving, the gates also keep the dogs in the garage/driveway area.  B&N, having arrived here as puppies, proved to be enthusiastic, inventive, and talented diggers, so they never have spent much time in the actual garden, home of so many fun plants just begging to be dug up, dragged around, tasted, and torn apart.  The gate to the gully is also about dog safety as well--coyotes and snakes are visitors to the gully.  And sometimes there is mud.  B&N love mud. 

  A smaller why of the many gates is building code; the pond/patio area, with water in a pond being dangerous for children who cannot swim, must be gated.  The reason for the other two gates--the small front gate was suggested by the landscape architect for charm reasons (also, if a dog runs out the front door, which happens once a year or so, dog safety!), while the gate to the veggie garden...really isn't necessary.  In practice it doubles as extra child-safety for the pond, though loose children are not an issue around here.  And it could be for dog safety.  Or plant safety from dogs. 

Six gates in a not-huge garden are a bit much.  Whoever owns the house in the future will wonder why there are so many.   
Or maybe they'll have dogs who love to dig.


  1. Now this is my dream of a garden in the zone I will never live in, gates and all !
    I love gates because they do exactly as you describe .. they make you stop and pay attention to the area you are entering and leaving .. we all need those pauses in life but especially in a beautiful garden so we do take the time to appreciate the structures and plantings .. enjoy the scents and sounds as well.
    I love the roses you have .. I tried so many times with roses and had shameful ? (LOL) results , so I thought it better to leave those poor things alone .. but that desert atmosphere you have with such exotic plants .. totally alien to me here in zone 5b ..
    You always want what you can't have describes my aspirations ! LOL

    1. We gardeners just want it all. Me included. I love Hostas! Herbaceous peonies! Cold climate Conifers! Alpines! None of which are going to grow here.

      I agree we need to pause more. While Covid-19 is a worldwide disaster, a lot of us are findingan unexpected, enforced pause to be a good thing.

      Roses are tough in 5b. I can grow them here because they are easy here.

  2. Replies
    1. Except for the struggle involved in opening a gate while carrying multiple garden tools, a ladder, a bucket, etc etc, so do I.

  3. I was surprised when you mentioned 6 gates, although I remembered most of them as you went through your review. They're all attractive and, for the reasons you enumerated, useful. Maybe you just need a few doorstops to facilitate ease of movement when you're engaged in tasks that require repetitive movement from one area to another. We have a single gate and fencing only between us and one neighbor. I've always thought it might be nice if the back garden was more safeguarded but then that would require changing things I don't want to change...

    1. Well, an organized person would use doorstops, yes. Then there's me. There is a brick by one of the gates, for trash bin roll outs. But again, dog safety--paranoia in the defense of pups is no vice. What if I forget to close the gate?

      The neighborhood is a little anti-fence, unusual in SoCal. A lot of the neighbors don't have any fences except around pools, mandatory for child safety.

      When the Fire Authority did their fire safety review here they mentioned that the block walls are an excellent fire break, and in a disaster fire fighters can take shelter behind a block wall and have a chance of survival. So the FA likes block walls. That was nice to hear.

  4. Your garden is larger than mine and I have 5 gates. Only 4 are actually used. They are along the perimeter of the garden. Dog safety is why they are there and one wide gate for access to the back garden where we bring the truck in loaded with mulch or remove downed trees or large messes. I think your gates look great they way you have them planted up so nice. I will be rethinking my gate plantings.

    1. Hooray for dog safety!

      It was fun to think of things to have the gates "frame". The purple tuteur is "framed" by both veggie garden gates, though I don't know if anyone notices by me, ha ha!

      Thank you, Lisa!

  5. Dogs and kids instigated a lot of our gate. building too, so much so that we used to jokingly hum the Get Smart theme song as we walked thru and closed them behind us. We've been thinning the gates out and trying to get rid of the wood ones -- smart to make yours in metal from the get-go!

    1. Ha! That is what I'll be humming from now on.

      The one to the gully was originally wood. Replaced it with a metal one a few years ago. Much better. Wood deteriorates too fast here, plus fire safety. Hence, metal pergolas as well.

  6. Well, you may have a lot of gates but you've done a great job making them lovely passage ways to beautiful places. And Cara Cara oranges! Oh my gosh, they ARE delicious. I'm in Alabama and our grocery stores started carrying them a few years ago. I always keep an eye peeled for them. I don't comment often (or at all?) but the oranges make it mandatory this time. Your gardens are always a joy to see.

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Barbara!

      We chose the 'Cara Cara' because they are said to produce sweet fruit even near the coast. We are very lucky to be able to grow one. Our little tree produced a bumper crop this winter and we were able to enjoy the fruit for months and also donate well over 100 lbs of them to a nearby food bank.

      The standard 'Washington' naval is said to do better farther inland.

  7. Your garden is so beautiful I would walk slowly through it regardless of the gates. Funny how dogs, especially white long haired one, always like to play in the mud.

  8. Six gates! I shouldn't be surprised, seeing how large your property is. I enjoyed seeing parts of your property you don't feature that often.

    1. Lots of those areas not worth seeing. Have really been catching up on things--not only because of Covid-19. Oh joy oh joy our summer has been pretty mild compared to the last several. Can actually get out there for a few hours. Hope your summer is not too bad up north as well.

  9. I have three gates, all in my fence so they serve a purpose, I suppose. Then there's the fake gate into the vegetable garden. Really, who puts in a gate but no fence? I guess I do. I like all your gates and realize how different your climate and garden are from mine!

    1. Gates frame, and they are a good vertical element, so why not one for a vegetable garden?

      You are in 6a, yes that is very very different. Snow, and frost, can't image! But many fabulous plants to grow nonetheless! I enjoy you blog, read it often, don't comment much though. You keep us cheerful and optimistic--we need that these days!

  10. We have only one gate, slatted wood, double doors. It gives a whole different feeling, both closed, one or other wing open, both flung wide.


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