Magazine article Sunset

Gate Ways

Magazine article Sunset

Gate Ways

Article excerpt

Sunset readers open up about their garden gates

A good garden gate makes you want to sneak a peek at the landscape beyond. But a great garden gate goes further. It makes you want to meet the people responsible for its design. That was our conclusion after we asked readers to tell us about their one-of-a-kind garden gates, and the snapshots came pouring in. Regional character, handsome design, wit and whimsy-those things we'd expected. But we weren't prepared for the wonderful stories that came along with these gates. A few of them follow; perhaps they'll inspire you to look at gates in a fresh way as you choose one for your own garden.

CELEBRATING THE ONION *

Aptos, California . Cristie Thomas and Scott Lindberg, who design and fabricate arbors, gates, and other landscape ornaments under the name :L:M:N:O: Arts, describe their professional style as "eclectic and graceful." So what is the couple doing with this delightfully silly fence in their own backyard? Having a good laugh, says Thomas. "We were harvesting Walla Walla onions-we've been growing them for at least a decade-and I was suddenly struck by how beautiful they were," she says. "The wispy little roots, the sensuous bulbs, the floppy tops." So, on a whim, Thomas took several onions to the studio, made templates from them, and created this fanciful steel gate. The onion tops are made from flat bar, the roots are old welding rod bent to shape, and the gate frame is solid square rod. IM:N:O: Arts (831/728-3998 or www.lmnoarts.com)

ZEN AND THE ART OF TIME MANAGEMENT

Centennial, Colorado * "Garden projects keep me off the psychiatrist's couch," says dentist Kent Sellers. With the pressure of staying on schedule all day long, Sellers craves slower-paced, contemplative tasks on his days off. Designing and building Japanese-inspired gates for his tea garden, for instance. This gate, one of three in his garden, is made of Russian olive branches and twigs from trees cut down along Interstate 25 in Denver when sound-barrier walls went in. "I'd been looking for wood with lots of joints and curves to inspire me," he says. "When I pulled over and saw these, I knew they were perfect." Sellers doesn't re-create any particular Japanese style. Instead, he lets the wood dictate the design. Because each junction is screwed in by hand, the gates are labor-intensive. Not that Sellers minds. Sometimes, time is not an issue.

A TRIBUTE TO MURIEL

Ross, California The spirit of Muriel Waltz still haunts the land that Juliet and Ashford Wood live on. And that suits Juliet just fine. "Muriel has captured us completely," she says. From the 1940s through the '60s, Waltz was a famous fuchsia hybridizer who had a commercial nursery on the Woods' property. Juliet honors that garden. She's retained most of the plants, built a stone wall around the perimeter, and put in a gate-exactly in the spot Waltz had imagined, say Muriel's surviving friends. Muriel, we think, would have loved it. The gate is a tree of life design made from hand-forged steel and hand-tinted ceramic tiles, a trademark combination of Lake County gate designer-maker Brian Kennedy. The blooms, appropriately enough, are fuchsia buds. The Freedom of Craft by Brian Kennedy, Lake County, California (707/928-5124 or www thefreedomofcraft. com)

FRAMEWORK FOR A FAMILY

Olympia, Washington The gate Walter Penwarden made for his home in South Pasadena was a backdrop in family portraits for decades. …

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