White Picket Fence – The Good Life


Montpelier Mansion Garden

It’s that time of year when people start thinking about sprucing up their homes and gardens, and a white picket fence makes a crisp backdrop to set off a landscape. Ahh, the good life.

While white picket fences are more commonly seen in cottage gardening, this post shows three gardens with white picket fences at homes of different size and design. From a small village home to a great mansion, the white picket fence can make a statement.


Buffalo Garden

Not all white picket fences are used to protectively delineate the boundary of the home though. Above is a summer example of the fence enclosing the home and separating the garden between public and private space. The flowers have no regard to public and private space as they peek out between the rails.

In these three creative examples from this May, the fence is used a bit differently, yet each is very welcoming to the visitor.


Lewiston Garden

You will find many design “rules” telling you how to plant around your fence, but as you will see in this post and Fence It, my previous post, many ways to plant along a fence are possible. The previous post addressed the nostalgia around the white picket fence and other fencing styles.


Charles Cresson Garden

Form and color lend a pleasant contrast against the white of the fence readily seen from both inside and outside of the garden, so flowers stand out.


Montpelier Mansion Garden

Although not shown in the three examples in this post, vining and trailing plants look great draping a fence or arbor. See this in the post Fence It. Trees planted adjacent to the fence, over-hanging branches spilling over the fence is also a nice designer look.


Montpelier Mansion Garden

You can see many spring bloomers in these images, but look closely and you will see the summer flowers just starting to appear in amongst plants in bloom. Keeping blooms sequencing through the seasons is recommended to keep visual interest throughout all four seasons. Often you see Christmas wreaths decorating white picket fences in winter.

In the post Fence It, the images are all from summer and many different gardens.


Montpelier Mansion Garden

The garden above is at Montpelier Mansion in Maryland. The theme of this garden is to tell the time by the sun. The mansion is shown below. The white picket fence garden is free-standing in the lawn area – a formal parterre garden with gravel paths. Although formal in design, it has a looser informal, almost cottage feel.


Montpelier Mansion

Below is the remarkable garden of Charles Cresson, a renowned plantsman in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. I have much more on his garden to come.


Charles Cresson Garden


Lewiston Garden

The fence helps to keep overzealous growers contained in addition to creating a border for the garden to aid in defining the space on both sides of the fence.


Charles Cresson Garden

Separating an entryway from the lawn and garden, a white picket fence creates an airy garden delineation, shown below.


Lewiston Garden

The Lewiston garden is owned by a friend of mine. She is a garden club member and I thought her fence was done up beautifully in spring bulbs. Many summer bloomers are on the way also. I bet she will feel very special being included with these two well-known gardens.  Deservingly so too.

Another thing a fence can do is frame a view like shown at Montpelier. Here the house is on axis.


Montpelier Mansion Garden


Charles Cresson Garden


Lewiston Garden


Charles Cresson Garden

Don’t you just love the iris against the white fence? One thing you might notice in this post and Fence It, is that many flowers used are considered old-fashioned standbys like you may have seen in your grandmother’s gardens. Nostalgia slips in, but it is also that these flowers just look “right”. Look at the roses in front of fences in Fence It. They seem so naturally “right”. But so does many other flowers and shrubs. No need for design rules…


Lewiston Garden

Next post is one I was promising before my trip to Pennsylvania. It is a series of landscaping posts showing properties that do landscaping in the woods quite well. The woodsy series has some great ideas for those of you gardening in the woods. Plus, sculpture and art on wooded paths, a unique way to make the woodland experience memorable.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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44 Responses to White Picket Fence – The Good Life

  1. mjarz says:

    One type of fence, several design ideas. Thanks for the useful posts on gardening along fence lines and what the classic white picket evokes. Loved the photos.

  2. Great views. Thanks for pointing out the design elements that make these work.

    • I think no one can really go wrong with these fences. The design choices are so numerous. One thing many folks do is not vary plant height, like the proper way shown in these gardens. Many times they use tiny plants so they don’t cover up their new fence.

  3. gauchoman2002 says:

    I always liked the white picket fences, not because of any fence qualities but the way they really make things stand out. The trees hanging over or the flowers peeking through on either side are a unique visual that you can’t get many other ways. As always, great photos and some very good ideas.

  4. Lin Celoni says:

    I love my ‘fake picket fence’. It serves no purpose but to make my border garden pop. You are right about the iris. When should I replant the surprise white iris to another place away from my white fence? The yellow and purple can stay 🙂

    • Early Spring is best, but after bloom is brown is another good time. Honestly, I replant them even in bloom, but I should not be telling you my bad gardening habits. I never lost one either, even those dug in JULY. As a Master Gardener, I am only supposed to give the “good” advice. As a busy design professional, I move a lot of plants in bloom. I just make sure and dig a large amount of surrounding soil.

  5. Nell Jean says:

    Fifty years ago, our house boasted a white picket fence made of cypress, mostly to keep cattle out of the yard. We need a few sections again for decor.

  6. Debra says:

    These photos have left me re-evaluating the picket fence. I think I had a mental impression of them as exclusive but these examples show a different side. They contain and border but the feeling is open and airy. The tall privacy fences really do give off an unfriendly aura in comparison.

    • Privacy fences are necessary in many situations. They need to be designed on whether the client wants to keep people/animals out or create a screen to block a view of beyond. Large properties can be done with plants, but rarely small city lots for instance due to space.

  7. Pat says:


  8. Bindu says:

    What lovely gardens! And the fences add to their beauty.

  9. acuriousgal says:

    Just beautiful, Donna! The white picket fence brings back lots of memories and the ones you’ve shown here are simply stunning

  10. My Heartsong says:

    Always fun to receive your e-mail, read the intro, then get hit with a blast of colour and nostalgia as I am led to your link. Great photos and interesting how the image of the white picket fence is etched into our psyche.

  11. Such beautiful gardens and great photography! Loved your photos. The garden in the mansion certainly looked like a cottage garden to me. Beautiful color combinations. The spring bulbs add a nice splash of color when we most need it- after a long winter!

    • Than you. If I could be on a ladder, you would notice the symmetry and geometry. I think what makes me think it informal and loose was the different heights og plants, plus the peonies and iris.

  12. What a lovely subject matter Donna!

  13. Beautiful examples of those lovely fences. I especially like it when flowers and plants are spilling out to break the symmetry! 🙂 Happy new week, Donna!

  14. debsgarden says:

    Thanks for these inspirational views. I have always been drawn to picket fences. One will immediately upgrade a garden. Even a messy garden can look great when enclosed by a picket fence. I look forward to your series on woodland landscaping!

  15. A.M.B. says:

    It’s interesting to see what different designers do with the same raw materials. I love how the flowers peek through the rails, softening the edges. Beautiful!

  16. alesiablogs says:

    Something about a white picket fence is inviting. It is also so romantic.

  17. Alisha says:

    very beautiful, I love white color.

  18. Beautiful pictures. I love this time of year when everything is waking up from the winter.

  19. Love the arbor! I’m a sucker for the white picket fence look. We have white fencing around our front porch and the side gardens–the cultivated parts of the property. White fencing gives a place an approachable, cultivated, yet naturalish look. And as you say, the colorful flowers really stand out!

  20. Lovely photos of Charles’s garden. I have always thought about putting a white picket fence around my raised beds under the birdhouse but didn’t want to create another maintenance job. White picket fences must be pristine.

  21. Stunning examples Donna and always such creative information. I am hoping to get my gardens looking a little less wild and a bit more form around the fences…..but I do love white picket fences!

  22. bittster says:

    I love a nice white picket fence, but the faded wooden ones also just pull me in. I always imagine lichen encrusted posts with roses overhanging, and maybe a beach nearby… and a cottage garden of course. Nostalgia maybe? or am I just trying to avoid all that painting 🙂

  23. What wonderful settings! Sadly, our subdivision forbids fencing in the front yards, and it wouldn’t make much sense to fence in our back yard, because we like an open view of the woods behind us.

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