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News: Terminology: A Gateway to Garden Elements


March 06, 2020

Gates are a good example of a garden element with distinct parts.

From The Garden Club of America Collection at the Archives of American Gardens.

When cataloging new garden submissions, the Archives of American Gardens’ staff always has a glossary of terms nearby to ensure that the most accurate words are used to describe garden elements. Many features have various components or vague definitions, which can lead to them being labeled with the wrong term. Gates are a good example of a garden element with distinct parts, which can be described using specific nomenclature.

Gates can be a simple and practical garden element or an elaborate focal piece for a property. It is easiest to think of a gate as the hinged element that opens or closes an opening into a garden. A gateway is an archway or structure that frames a gate and can be created out of  materials such as stone or wood. Gateways are not to be confused with overthrows, which are iron designs reaching across the top of a gate. Overthrows may be used to add identifying elements to a property, such as initials or motifs related to family history. Other components, which can accompany a gate, are gate piers, or structures flanking either side of a gate. Gate piers are often made of stone or brick and act as columns marking the opening for the gate.

(left) An overthrow in Filoli, Woodside, CA. c. 1920s-1930s.

(center) Gate piers at Woodland Garden, Columbus, OH. July 2007. Janet M. Oberliesen, photographer.

(right) A stone gateway in Grey Gardens, East Hampton, NY. c. 1920s-1930s.






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