Garden Lore

“It is unchristian to hedge from the sight of others the beauties of nature which it has been our good fortune to create or secure.”

Frank J Scott The Art of Beautifying Suburban Home Grounds (1870).

The brutality of the utility wooden fence

The brutality of the utility wooden fence

Wooden fences

I spent the weekend in Mount Eden in Auckland where walking the streets offers a study in hostile fencing. There is a bigger story in fencing, now that I am getting my eye in for it but I couldn’t help but notice how little it takes to turn a large wooden affair into something more pleasing than a utility, gang house-styled barricade. It seems quite remarkable that people who own a million dollar house see nothing wrong with a basic tanalised board construction of zero aesthetic merit. If you feel the need to erect a solid barrier between your home and the riff raff who pass by on the footpath, a little thought can make a big difference.

A little detailing can make a huge difference

A little detailing can make a huge difference

Incorporating the vertical supports as part of the fence breaks up the expanse of wall into separate panels. Topping the verticals with a simple finial – or abacus to go to classic terms – adds little to the expense but a lot to the design. A horizontal baseboard is both practical and adds a little finishing detail. Narrow palings generally look classier than wide ones. An unobtrusive colour in charcoal or dark grey tones mutes the impact further. It is attention that detail that counts.

Simple base boards add a finishing touch

Simple base boards add a finishing touch

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

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3 thoughts on “Garden Lore: Friday 16 May, 2014

  1. Keith

    American design might be considered by some to be “in your face”, but I’ve noticed that Americans seem to be much better at finishing touches than we are. Fences are probably not a good example because in that regard they seem to follow Frank J Scott’s idea of Christianity by dispensing with them altogether. Any of their garden ornamentations, such as pergolas, foot bridges etc seem to more imaginative than ours.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I have never been to look at American gardens, nor indeed American suburbia so I will have to take your word for it but middle class USA does seem to place a high value on kerb appea. . Fences are an interesting statement of one’s view on the world. Some like to be able to see out and to show off their property. Others are obsessed by closing themselves in. I just wouldn’t buy a house on a tiny section close to a road if I wanted privacy. We have only ever bought three houses in our life together and all were bought for location, not the house as the main driver.

  2. alii scott

    A fantastic discussion to get going – thank-you. The fact that we are all responsible together for creating a beautiful environment for rich and poor alike (Sad though isn’t that so many are condemned to poverty by their own uncaring society?)
    It used to be that a neighbourhood walk was made enjoyable by being able to enjoy the gardens on view around everyone’s house. Ugly fences are brutal offences to our sensibilities – as are many modern constructions – it always amazes me when people spend so much to go on overseas trips to ‘beautiful’ locations, never thinking that every day could be filled with beauty with a little effort in the garden and streets planting things!
    Just another case for local communities really needing to get together…
    I’m in the position of designing a garden, creating screening right now. I could let the hedge grow to 3 metres but have decided to keep it lower and create a more interesting screen of staggered and flowering trees instead. Keen for everyone to get an eyeful of a newly planted Blue Sausage tree. (Decaisnea Fargesii). Wish me and the tree luck!

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