United States of America, Iowa, Polk County, Des Moines
Three Gates (Des Moines, Iowa)
The 2.5 acre property Three Gates has a 3,500 square foot gated garden surrounding a cottage-style house designed by architect Amos Emory in 1938, while the rest of the property has broad lawns, and woodland. After installing 8-foot iron fences in 1998 to keep out deer, garden designer Barbara J. Lyford laid out the main garden geometrically in a vesica picis (a common area shared by overlapping identical circles into which a pentad or five-pointed star is placed) centered on crossing walkways. Sixteen foundation plants were placed along axes radiating from the pentad with the seventy-two degree angles of the star determining placement and spacing. These structural plants include yew, arborvitae, peonies, hydrangea, and several roses. Numbers of the Fibonacci sequence determine the height and length of the fence and width of the flagstone walkways. The designer applied spiritually significant principles, such as the pentad (symbolic of life and regeneration), the Fibonacci series (a self-generating number sequence that mirrors the growth pattern of nature), and the golden spiral (outward growth reflecting organic growth), to create a unified and peaceful garden.
A White Entry Garden is planted outside the fence leading to the front of the house. It contains many deer-resistant perennials in white, silver or green shades, such as yarrow, bleeding heart, geranium, iris, and peonies. A European beech tree fills one corner, and ornamental grasses and evergreens are planted outside the fence. Peonies, planted in the 1940s on the neighboring property owned by the family of the builder of this house, Ted Lovejoy, were replanted at Three Gates. Other plantings outside the deer fence include ornamental grasses, juniper, spiraea, and hop. Box is planted on the top of the main garden walls, and in a tiny knot garden. Containers on the terrace are planted in summer with herbs, vegetables, and fruits, as well as flowers. Numerous varieties of annual flowers, perennials, shrubs and trees are planted throughout the property, and are labeled.
The pre-existing garden was designed Bill Heard when the property was owned by Dwight and Margaret Brooke.
Persons associated with the garden include Dwight and Margaret Brooke (former owners, 1938-1989); William R. Heard (garden designer, 1939-1989); Barbara J. Lyford (garden designer, 1989 to present) and Amos Emory (architect, 1938).
The folder includes worksheets, photocopies of articles, and other information.
This property is featured in Welcome HOME, "A Garden of Symbols," article by Denise Van, December 2003