Do people think enough about gates? I am not entirely convinced many do. Gates can vary from this grand, modern entrance – electronically controlled from the distant house. Being in the UK, these are more likely to be constructed from oak rather than the utility tanalised pine favoured in this country. I regret to say that it did not occur to us at the time to inspect how much and what type of bracing went in behind to hold it true and flat.

At the other end of the spectrum, this unused little gate between us and the neighbours never fails to delight me when I walk past it, even though it has probably not been used in four or five decades. It often makes me think of the very famous Heaven’s Gate at Hidcote. I don’t seem to have a good photo of it from our one and only visit. In the photos we had seen, it looked like a *focal point* – a visual punctuation point which served no other purpose than to terminate the red borders. In fact, it was an entirely logical gate when we saw it in person – leading to another garden area but also framing a glorious borrowed view of countryside beyond. I will not deride a gate that frames a worthwhile borrowed view.

Modern urban gates – I have a few photos. This expensive, utility model makes me think of a prison gate and I have no interest in walling myself into a voluntary prison.

This one is a utility, modern take on older styles. I probably noticed it enough to photograph when we were discussing gate design because what we settled on was a combination of old and new.

The gates to our swimming pool were the first set we had made. Swimming pools in NZ must all meet stringent fencing and gate standards to avoid accidental drownings of small people.

I must acknowledge a debt to my sister for our gates. For historical reasons, there is so little antique iron lace in our nearest city, New Plymouth, that I have never even noticed any at all. But the old Dunedin cottages in the 1860s were routinely adorned with iron lace verandah decoration, even the simplest workers’ cottages.

We only ever close our driveway gates when we are controlling the flow of garden visitors but I do like the look when they are closed

I was told – and I have no idea whether this is true or not – that this cast iron lace came out as ballast in the ships that came to Dunedin in the goldrush days. From the docks, they found their way onto modest cottages. In the early 2000s, that same iron lace found its way from cottages being renovated for the new era to the wreckers’ yards. My sister went around all the demolition yards and bought all the iron lace for me. I can not recall now if it was $21 or $23 a piece but it was a bargain.

Marigolds in a window in the wall

It was not as cheap to get some of these iron lace pieces set into welded gates but I have never regretted the expenditure. I love our gates and window. None of them match. Sometimes even one side of the gate is not a perfect match to the other side but that quirkiness adds to the charm. These are all corner pieces from verandahs that we have turned upside down to make gates so the designs are sometimes inverted.

Thistles in the low gates in to the courtyard

For the technically minded, I think the old iron was first sand-blasted, then welded onto made to measure gate frames, galvanised and commercially spray painted to get a finish that would last down the years. I looked at modern iron gates and they are very simplistic compared to our mix of old and new.

I think I worked out that we have enough pieces to do another three sets of gates and a couple of single gates, should we feel the need of more

Should the need arise for further gates, we have a little stash of iron lace still waiting to be used. One of the children may end up inheriting it. As time passes, these are probably becoming ever more collectible, as is said.

I pass this one driving to town. No longer in use but genuinely old and honest in its modest ornamentation

10 thoughts on “Gates

  1. Paddy Tobin

    We have commented regularly on recent gate and door design which more and more resembles a style previously found in commercial rather than domestic properties and certainly lacks any interest or beauty. Your old-style gates are far more interesting and ornamental.

  2. Pat Webster

    Gates and fences and bridges — the design of all of them has a huge impact on that illusive ‘spirit’ of a garden. I like your iron lace pieces very much. They wouldn’t suit my garden but in yours, they feel very much at home.

  3. Wendy Bogue

    Gates can add so much character and beauty in the right setting. Thanks for sharing. During a personal tough change in my life my minister at church told me to get off the top of the uncomfortable picket fence and choose which side to get off to. As a helpful tool to guide me through the other side that l had chosen, l laminated a beautiful picture of open picket fence gates at the end of a beautiful garden leading out into a new world of different gardens and hence my new life. The analogy has always made me aware of the effect great gates (new or old) can have in our environment and lives.

  4. Victoria Mackisack

    Having always adored iron lace gates and admired them both here and abroad, I do think your gates are deeply enviable and enhance your property beautifully. Hang onto your stash and keep it well out of sight! :)

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