• Roger Waterhouse

Greenwood gate

Our house is built into the hill.

As a result, the roof at the back comes down to three feet from the ground.

The track you can see is a public bridleway and a popular footpath for residents of Ashover and beyond.

When Demonsdale was a working dairy farm, at the end of the house where we are standing there was a concrete slope which led down to the left, to the milking sheds.

When we bought the Farm twenty odd years ago there was just rubble where the sheds had been. We turned it into a garden, which we screened from the bridleway by planting a beech hedge.

That presented us with a design problem.

To screen us effectively from horse riders, the hedge needed to be at least 8 feet high, so how to link that aesthetically with the roof which sloped down to 3 feet? And we wanted to get down that side of the house, so we needed a path and a gate.

Our solution was to grow an arch from the beech hedge to the roof, plant a rose up the side of the building to complete the arch, and install a gate which echoed the shape of the arch.

We were partially successful.

The beech hedge grew well and provided an excellent screen. The rose on the building never really flourished as a second side to the arch. And what was meant as a curved top to the arch, turned into a square. But I made a gate, out of green wood, of which I was rather proud.

But that was nearly 20 years ago, and by the time this photo was taken the gate had rotted at the bottom.

So I decided to replace it.

The critical design factor was to find an appropriately curved piece of wood which would act as the top of the irregular frame. I sourced one from a decorative hazel, which needed

pruning anyway, and got it approved by the local building inspector.

I then needed to source the frame members and planks, which I did from a recently felled beech tree.

I was happy to leave the planks with bark on, but the frame I needed to shape on the shaving horse.

I chose mortise and tenon joints for the corners of the frame, but the really tricky thing was to make sloping joints at the two top corners which just followed the curve of the wood.

The joints fitted as roughly as was appropriate for the style of these greenwood joints, and all I needed was my three year old grandson to bash them as hard as he could with a mallet (New word - 'MALLET")

Frame assembled, we had to do some trimming of the planks.

And, hey presto, we have a lopsided gate.

And this is how it looks in situ.

And this is how the design issue is currently resolved.

It will look better when the wisteria ( which has superseded the rose) gets bushier, and when the gate has a post to close against.

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