‘People travel the world over to visit untouched places of natural beauty, yet modern gardens pay little heed to the simplicity and beauty of these environments, those special places we must preserve and protect, each in his own way before they are lost forever.’ Mary Reynolds
I adore the garden movie Dare to Be Wild. The film tells the story of Mary Reynolds, an Irish landscape designer and youngest winner of a Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2002. Mary’s exhibit encouraged visitors to reconnect with wild nature and featured a moon gate leading down a path to four stone thrones surrounding a fire pit over water.
Mary’s exhibit inspired me. The moon gate, which her character in the movie describes as a transition from the natural to the spiritual world, blew my mind. Popular in many cultures, moon gates originated in China, serving as inviting entrances to upper class gardens. Bermudians have featured moon gates in their architecture since the late 19th century.
I am happy to report that Chester County, PA now features a moon gate and it’s installed in my back yard where it marks the entrance to my woodland garden and replaces a temporary arch made of twigs. I adore the symbolism of the moon gate and am thankful I was able to find a talented mason willing to make my vision a reality.
Scott of KM Gardens had never built a moon gate before but was excited to take on this ‘once in a lifetime’ challenge. Scott researched construction techniques and procured the perfect Pennsylvania fieldstone to integrate with existing boulders on my property.
Scott began work in September. After a week of stone chiseling and stacking, we were excited for the unveiling. Poised in front of the structure, I began to videotape the reveal as the wooden frame was slowly removed. Unfortunately, the first attempt wasn’t successful and the grand structure collapsed before our eyes. Fortunately, no one was hurt physically. Pardon the expletives as you watched the video. As you can imagine we were shocked and disappointed!
Scott, a true craftsman, regrouped after this disappointment, revisited tutorials on construction and started over the next morning, making multiple adjustments including the angle of the stones and the addition of mortar to keep the stabilizing sides from moving. Version two was a success!
Now I’m inspiring friends with my moon gate, which has been described as gorgeous, stunning, awesome, beautiful and the coolest thing ever! I agree on all fronts and am thrilled to enjoy it as an amazing architectural accent to my landscape.
I’m pretty sure Scott’s once in a lifetime project is going to become a series of moon gates as I expect others to request his services. And I’ll continue to share Mary Reynold’s story and encourage others to invite wild nature into their own gardens.
Thanks for sharing this story . I love the moon gate and all that it represents. As I began reading, I wondered what talented stonemason you got to do this project. Then I saw that It was Scott of KM Gardens who is laying our walk right now! I gave him some unique design challenges and he has executed it perfectly. Come and see!
We are both lucky to have Scott! He is a master of his craft!
Fantastic Carol ! I’d love to see it in person !!
You are welcome to stop by. Just give me a shout and we will set something up.
What a beautiful, spiritual, idea to create such a heartfelt structure among your already fabulous garden that I have had the pleasure of visiting several times. I absolutely love this! I thought that your tranquil waterfall fountain was the icing on the cake. Who would have thought that of all structures to choose, this by far is the best! I loved that movie and remember when I told you about it which you had already seen it many times….. Beautiful my friend!
I think the moon gate and water feature work in perfect combination Joanne and I hope you will stop by to see both some time soon!
I am awestruck at the beauty of this divine architectural element, but certainly not surprised that you would accomplish this! I want one too! Thank you for being so inspiring!
Happy you found the moon gate inspirational Claire. Your not the first to say you want one and I hope you get your wish!
Oh my, that is the most magnificent structure! I am awed by the masonry, the stone, and
by Scott and his helper’s work. I can’t imagine how they felt when it collapsed the first time.
Success the second time! Amazing!!!! It looks like it was meant to be in your yard…fits right in.
According to the photos, I guess we should expect a fire pit next.
I agree Rozy – Scott built a work of art for sure. Already have a firepit, but another structure is in the works – stay tuned!
Any relationship to the ‘Moon Door’ from Game of Thrones? Good stuff, CV!
Glad you like the Moon Gate! Never watched Game of Thrones so I’m not sure if there is any relationship.
This is FABULOUS Carol You are modeling/designing in the style of the famous landscape architect Beatrix Ferrand, whose work dots Mt. Desert Island in Maine, including The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Gardens…Moon Gate included: https://landscapenotes.com/2017/11/13/abby-aldrich-rockefeller-garden-seal-harbor-maine
BRAVA, my friend!
Wow Annmarie, I had no idea there was a moon gate in Maine (my birth state). I love that I am tiptoeing into the big shoes of Beatrix Ferrand. Warms my heart – thank you!