Peek-a-boo gates arouse curiosity


Posting about my own modest peek-a-boo gate got me thinking about all the really fine gates I’ve photographed over the years. Most of these offer much more than a peek-a-boo glimpse of garden, yet they still provide a physical and visual separation and arouse the visitor’s curiosity to see what lies beyond it. A gate (or other opening, like an arbor or even a path between two posts or shrubs) is, in my view, essential to creating a garden, marking the passage from prosaic outer world to the beauty and magic within.

Here are some of my favorites. Pictured at top, an iron-and-galvanized-metal gate in the bungalow garden of Tom Poth.


A beautiful metal lattice-patterned gate in Lucinda Hutson’s garden


A romantic iron gate in the walled King’s Garden at Ft. Ticonderoga in New York


A charming wooden gate with peek-a-boo circular window at Bayou Bend in Houston


A wrought-iron gate painted to match the inner walls is left open invitingly at Antique Rose Emporium in San Antonio.


Photo courtesy of Michele Holt
One of the most creative gates I’ve come across in Austin is fellow blogger Michele Holt‘s gate with tree, moon, and star cut-outs.


Austin garden blogger Philip has a fantastic oversized metal gate from the set of Austin-filmed Spy Kids in his East Side Patch garden.


A classic wooden gate at Chicago Botanic Garden’s English Walled Garden


Driveway gates aren’t usually very enticing, but this one in west Austin creates an expectation of a garden to explore within.


This intricately wrought gate set in an ivy-covered wall is my favorite. It’s in the garden of Steve Hicks and Donna Stockton-Hicks, which I visited on a Garden Conservancy Open Days tour in 2006.

Somehow, someday I’m going to work a fabulous gate into my own garden. Do you already have one?

All material © 2006-2009 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

posted in Design, Gates, Walls

22 Responses

  1. Excellent gates. Thanks for posting your collection.

  2. Gail says:

    They are remarkable gates~~wouldn’t mind any of them. gail

  3. Oh yes, I have a most charming chain-link fence gate. Such style and glamor, very “designy”…I hate it! Someday I want one like these!

    I have a lot of “somedays” on my list too, Loree. No shame in that–we just have to keep plugging along, little by little, toward our vision. —Pam

  4. Christine B. says:

    No peekaboo gate yet. After checking these beauties out I am sorely tempted though. What a great statement piece for the garden!

    Christine in Alaska

  5. Nell Jean says:

    I’m sitting here reading, admiring and suddenly remembering — I have an idle gate stored behind the pumphouse!

    I bet you can find a good use for it, Nell Jean! —Pam

  6. Susie says:

    amazing gates, heavy rain today…hopefully we’re sending it your way.

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I have four gates to my back garden and not one is picture worthy.

    A cut-out is easy to do, Lisa, and makes a big difference. A nice coat of paint can work too. —Pam

  8. Bob Pool says:

    As a matter of fact, I have two of them. You can see one of them, the yucca gate on Cheryl’s blog, Conscious Gardening, as she took a picture of it when she visited last week on her nursery crawl. I did make a mistake on it in that I didn’t make it rabbit proof and had to put some mesh on the bottom. It kinda hurts the looks of it. I’ve been thinking of building another to take it’s place and selling it.

    I saw your very cool gate on Cheryl’s blog, Bob. It must be wonderful to have the artistic skill to whip one of those up when you need it. ;-) —Pam

  9. Victoria says:

    Lovely pictures, and a lovely idea. I’ve thought of swapping our side gate, which is solid timber, for a wrought-iron version, but was put off for two reasons. First, that an iron version would be easy for a thief to climb over, and second that the side passage is very handy place for dumping trash of any kind (and everyone would be able to see it)! I’d love to have the sort of garden that had a gate within it, leading from one section to another. I love that sense of hinting at a secret world.

    I see gates used within garden rooms all the time, and it’s very effective. I don’t plan to trade in my privacy gates any time soon either, but within the back garden I can definitely see using a decorative gate as an invitation from one section of the garden to another. —Pam

  10. Even though we do have a couple of great gates, I love those that are set into walls. That last one is terrific. And the swirl of wrought iron in the Bayou Bend window is charming. How lovely to be able to afford layers of embellishment like that!

  11. Not as fabulous as these I don’t. Thanks for the tour.~~Dee

  12. Cheryl says:

    Beautiful images, I love Michele’s addition!

  13. Catherine says:

    I love these types of gates, I never knew they had a name. They really do make you want to see more of what’s on the other side. I’d love to add one to the side of our yard where our pond is.

    I just call them peek-a-boo gates, Catherine; I don’t think it’s an official name for them though. There’s nothing like a tease to make you want to see more. —Pam

  14. You’ve created a very pretty focal point through your peek-a-boo, Pam. Always enjoy your creativity and thought processes. I’m an admirer of gates (and doors) and photograph them as often as possible, too. These that you’ve featured are outstanding.
    Meems

  15. Yolanda says:

    Great photos.
    Give me lots of ideas when changing my door.
    In Spain usually, the doors are too classic and the visitor can not see the garden.

  16. hostabuff says:

    I love your gate choices Pam – especially the agave design. Gates can be so inviting. Some of the prettiest garden gates I have ever viewed were in the historic New Orleans Garden District. I also heard an interesting story just the other day – an open gate in Savannah, Georgia is an invitation to step inside and view the garden. The person that shared the story said it had been years since her visit and she did not know if this was true today…a nice thought though.

    I have heard that too, Hostabuff. It makes me want to book a visit to Savannah in springtime. —Pam

  17. Cindy, MCOK says:

    The last time I was in Hawaii, I took several photographs of intricately wrought driveway gates similar to the one you show from west Austin. I love interesting gates and you’re making me think I need to do something with mine!

  18. Lola says:

    I love the first & second pics best. I’ve wanted to put a gate at my side garden even though there is no real garden there. It’s close to the house & not far to the row of large azaleas. I think a gate would give the illusion that there was more beyond.
    What do you think?

    It sounds like a great idea, Lola. Even non-functioning gates are wonderful at creating the illusion of something beyond, and a sense of separation and invitation. —Pam

  19. You’ve show some gates that qualify as works of art. It seems, though, that the most successful of such gates are those in solid walls or fences.
    I can’t do a peek-a-boo gate on the south side of the house, because that’s where I hide the garbage bins, but it does have a small peek-a-boo effect at the top made by the curve of the gate top and the lintel above. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to wait quite a while for the Thujas to grow tall enough to screen out the view of the nieghboring houses behind my property to give it a focal point worth looking at. I’ll consider some kind of peek-a-boo effect on the north gate when the time comes to replace it. That would give a glimpse into the woodland garden, which is worth looking at.

  20. Jean says:

    No, I don’t own one and in fact, that’s one of the many things missing from my front yard. I ran out of funds to finish the fence and now I kick myself (should have dug up some funds somewhere!). As you said, someday… btw, that driveway fence is amazing. I’ve never seen one like that!

  21. MNGarden says:

    Yes, they all are charming, but the last one is my favorite as well.

  22. Pam, these are wonderful! Great minds think alike: Anyone with a craving for more gates might like to visit my post on Great Garden Gates at http://www.gardeninggonewild.com. Debra Lee Baldwin