Yesterday, the gates and fences bordering both my garden and the six and a half acres surrounding it stuck my fancy. The line “‘Good fences make good neighbors’” from the poem, Mending Wall, by Robert Frost came to mind. Later, I reread the poem and saw new meaning in it. I think Frost was poking gentle fun at his neighbor and all of us. Now, I know that Frost was speaking of emotional fences , not literal ones, but after living in the country for nineteen years, I find I support the neighbor’s point of view.
Here, fences do make all of us, both human and animals, good neighbors. Although my barriers aren’t herculean, they give everyone, including the wild dog packs which roam, boundaries. A word to the wise: if you tire of your dog, you are not doing your animal any favor by dropping it here. Before we had the wire, which lines the split rail fence, the dogs constantly harassed my animals. We used to keep horses, and the dogs loved to chase them. The wire barrier and my dogs stopped most of that.
Further, the fences and arbors I’ve placed around my main garden aren’t just for show. They stop the bunnies from eating all my lettuces, daylilies and other edible plants. Also, the deer seem to avoid the enclosed garden. The thorny, climbing roses and native grasses I’ve placed in strategic areas also seem to help. That way, they’re free to go ravage my fruit trees, but that’s another post.
As to humans, on three different occasions, including one New Year’s Eve, folks drove too fast around the corner at the edge of our property and crashed through the gate and split rail fence shown here. Later, the same fence slowed one woman’s car as it rolled three times through it, landing in the lower pasture instead of the lake. The highway patrolman said the fence probably saved her life.
Let’s move on to arbors. I am in love and have been since I saw one in a magazine twelve years ago. When I first wanted one, a welder friend of ours made two for my garden because they couldn’t be found here. Now, I think they are being shipped in from Mexico, and the ones I bought last year are fabulous. I don’t know how available they are in other parts of the country, but if you love the cottage look, and can find one, snag it for yourself. I’ve collected several, and if I could think of a way to include more, I would. They provide architectural interest, and there is something about walking through a gated arbor which makes me pause and release my breath in a sigh. They are the doorways to sacred garden space. How they are placed, and what adorns them, reflects the gardener’s personality. Most of mine have roses climbing up the sides. I used to place the same rose on each side, but I’ve decided with my newest acquisition to plant completely different varieties. I also like the classic clematis/rose combination so often shown in magazines. The French inspired arbor on the left is in shade, so I don’t know if I will grow anything on it. It is fairly complicated, so it is interesting in itself. However, if anyone has a suggestion for a climbing plant that likes shade and hot weather, please let me know.