Pink Fire Pointer Garden Gates

Garden Gates

Have you ever noticed how enticing a garden gate is?

It is an anticipation of the pleasures in store, hinting at what lies beyond.  It brings to mind the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett which may be the most evocative book for anyone who loves a garden and, if you were a dreamy, bookish sort as a young person when you read it (like me), one that lingers in the memory forever.

It is the transition between two spaces, the threshold into the retreat that the gardener has created.  A whiff of honeysuckle may hit us, gravel crunches under our feet, a pathway beckons us to move forward.   Expectations, garden secrets, surprises, the dazzle of a fountain, the language of flowers, the poetry of herbs all take us back to a childlike wonder as we contemplate the garden sanctuary just beyond the gate.

And there it is.  This private Eden created by the gardener.  We enter this magical spot, this outdoor room.   We are bathed in sunlight (if lucky) and inspired by color, texture, and scent.  The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the fragrance of rosemary wafts through the air.  A place to think, to dream, to reflect on the beauty of nature.  A place to count our blessings.

Photo from "Gertrude Jekyll and the Country House Garden"

This is the time of the year when gardens start to come into their own.  Garden tours will be happening all over the country.  Go here to find out about the Garden Conservancy Open Days program which allows access to more than 300 stunning properties across the country.  And if you live in Los Angeles, don't miss The Robinson Gardens Annual Garden Tour.

Visit the public gardens in your city, enjoy your own garden if you have one, or think about starting one of your own.  A small vegetable or flower garden is a great way to begin.  There are wonderful how-to books to get you started -- The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch is one -- and also inspiring books for the armchair gardeners out there who just want to admire --  Gertrude Jekyll and the Country House Garden by Judith B. Tankard is another.  And when you travel, be sure to find out where the gardens are.  I will never forget my trip to Paris when I was 21 and spent part of each day in a small garden on the Ile de la Cite reading my mail and writing postcards.  The time in that garden is one of the most vivid memories from the trip.  Visiting a garden will slow you down, help you recharge, and figure out what's next.

Spring is right around the corner!

First four photos via Pinterest