Creating harmony, simplicity and peace in the landscape......

"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.

Gardening is an instrument of grace. "

May Sarton
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

A January Moon Gate Reverie



Once, driving along a road in open farm country, I watched as the January full moon rose over a snowy landscape....

The large white disc shining brightly in a liquid gray sky was spectacular! I now understand why animals howl at the moon - it must be a sympathetic show of appreciation and awe.




The grandeur of the full moon made me reflect on moon gates, the traditional Chinese circular entryways that lead into contained gardens and cities. The rounded opening alludes to the full moon and the Chinese adage that says, 'Flowers are more beautiful when the moon is full.'

Enid Haupt Gardens - Smithsonian


Stepping through a round portal is symbolic of so many things. Like our entrance into this world, an enveloping enclosure calls to us to see what is on the other side. This sort of entry speaks to us of mystery and delight - no soaring Calatrava-like bridge or ornamented portico -  a moon gate beckons quietly, saying 'all is well, come see for yourself..."

moon gate by Richard Hartlage, Redding, CT


One of the most lovely moon gates that I have had the pleasure to step through is the gate in the Chinese garden at Naumkeag in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.


photo by Jan Johnsen

Naumkeag is a shingle-style 'country house' estate designed by noted architect Stanford White in 1885. As all Gilded Age homes, it is filled with finery and art, but, to me,  it is the gardens that make this public attraction memorable.



Sitting on 8 acres of landscaped grounds surrounded by 40 acres of woodland, meadow, and pasture, the property was originally designed by Nathan Barrett then expanded by noted landscape designer, Fletcher Steele (what a great name!) between 1926 and 1956.  The moon gate is part of Steele's Chinese Garden (1936-1956) and was added as the last piece of the puzzle in 1956. 

photo by Joene


The most wonderful aspect of this particular moon gate is the masonry. The wall, of which it is a part, is built from dark red brick and gray fieldstone. The gate itself is brick topped with lovely brickwork and a wooden roof. 

The masonry is quite different from traditional Chinese moon gates which are often fashioned from smooth stucco or finished stone.  

Here, the large round gate fits in with the native plants of this region perfectly and does not look ersatz or slightly out of place as so many Chinese gardens appear to be in my part of the world.

Btw, it is said that a moon gate brings good luck to all who pass through it so, with that, a summer visit to the Berkshire Mountains and the stunning Naumkeag may be just what you require!

This photo taken from the naumkeag official website


Naumkeag photo by Joene




6 comments:

  1. This entire post has been borrowed by Stem Leaf Bloom. http://stemleafbloom.com/a-january-moon-gate-reverie/ You should check their site and Facebook page for more of your work.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know Christopher! Is that your website?

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    2. No Stem Leaf Bloom is not my site. I was informed that multiple post from my blog had been borrowed by them. Without my permission or even asking. I contacted them to remove my content and posted on their FB page that this was copy righted material that they had no permission to use and it was removed. I am guessing they rely on the owners not finding it.

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    3. Got it. Thanks so much! I will follow your lead and the same right now - Thanks!

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  2. I love moon gates and these are wonderful.

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