I read in a magazine recently that the entrance to your property should tell visitors what kind of gardener lives within. Quelle horreur! I can’t imagine what conclusion a visitor to our place would draw from the stack of fenceposts-inwaiting, the mound of mulch, the trailer, the garden shed that should be attractive but isn’t and the pile of items waiting to go to the SPCA shop or the dump.
The mess is right at the start of the driveway, so I’m hopeful people may have forgotten it by the time they reach the house. The end of the drive, I’m relieved to say, is a different kettle of fish. It culminates in a parking area covered in white lime chip and edged with railway sleepers.
There’s a rectangular garden that runs along the courtyard wall, which is full of flowering annuals (these were a gift, not a choice, but they’re gorgeous nonetheless) and flanked by palm trees. To one side there’s a clump of port wine magnolias, and in front of them a blue garden seat occupied by an black cat.
Three columnar concrete pots set on white pavers point the way past the seat to the courtyard gate, while on the other side of the carpark there’s a gratifyingly successful grass garden full of carex, lomandra and blue tussock. There’s usually a Russian blue cat lying among them, too.
The beauty of it is that it requires very little effort to keep it looking smart, so long as He remembers to roll up the hose and stash it out of sight, and I remember to pick up the little piles of weeds that proliferate along the front after my superficial efforts. None of this excuses the appalling entranceway, however.
In our defence, may I just say it’s quite difficult to define the start of your property when you live in the country. Having said that, it’s likely the rules are the same as in an urban setting – it’s just the dimensions that differ. Consider these ways to enhance the entrance to your property:
Create a focal point that says “this is our place”. It might be a gate, an arch, a seat, a sculpture or a gnarly old tree underplanted with colourful blooms. If none of these options suit, a decent-sized rock with your street number chiselled into it will make a statement.
Create a sense of mystery. Let your house and garden reveal themselves gradually. Allow visitors glimpses through trees or shrubbery, or from behind walls or fences – it’s much more interesting than exposing the full monty all at once. You might need to create a curved path or driveway to achieve this.
Clearly defined edges will make your entranceway welcoming. Nothing is more disconcerting than arriving somewhere and not being able to gure out whether you’re following the actual driveway or the neighbour’s farm track. If you plan to use timber or rock edging, make your materials substantial. Small rocks or stones will look amateurish and will roll out of place if bumped by a tyre.
If you’re a gardener, your entranceway should say so. Your gateposts or fence will be hugely enhanced by a backdrop of shrubbery or a flowering climber, and one or three signature trees won’t go astray either. If it all feels too open and exposed, consider planting a hedge.
If the access to your property is via a path or lawn rather than a driveway, define it with an edge of either plants, timber or hedging, and provide inset pavers to lead visitors in the right direction.