Fences Ornate And Functional

Traditionally, fences, hedges, walls, defined land boundaries, contained pets and livestock, adorned the landscape, and  secured property. Fences are often a status symbol of wealth and standing in the community.

The ferns growing from this brick wall add a touch of softness. It makes the fence living and inviting. Fences were often used to protect flower and vegetable gardens. These gardens are not always hidden away but placed in the front yard where everyone can enjoy the beauty.

Not all brick walls are solid. Different patterns with an open weave are perfect for growing ivy and other vining plants. The fence above is adorned with Creeping Fig.

This stone wall is built to retain the soil. It’s also a barricade and privacy barrier against the street traffic.

Brick or stone walls are often combined with decorative iron fencing. The picture above shows a retaining wall made of brick topped with an iron fence serving to set boundaries and display a decorative addition.

Part of this property has a solid brick wall for privacy. It extends to the front of the house becoming more ornate and combines both brick and iron.

Creeping Fig is growing on this picket fence.

Wide open fences are more boundary defining than containing. They allow you to peak through at the treasures beyond. They welcome you in to the world of the homeowner but keep you at a distance also.

This fence is open but can contain pets or children.

Plants grown closely together set boundaries and the one pictured above has a nice white gate as its focal point.

Here is a wall that serves as a fortress, retaining wall, defining a boundary, and setting a status.

The more ornate and elaborate the fence it is likely the owner of the property was prosperous. Here this gate shows class and invites you beyond the gate.

Why not make the gate a completely different color!

The photos above were taken during my trip to Wilmington, NC. Many of the boundary walls in this town were built with ballast rocks. Ballast rocks came from ships traveling to Wilmington to pick up goods for trading. Ships need weight for balance and smooth sailing.

It is interesting that China did not load ballast rocks but instead delivered china to Wilmington. The china weighed as much as ballast rocks and made the trip less wasteful. Many of the pieces of china are still found in the museum homes and antique shops of Wilmington.

Once in Wilmington, they would unload the rock to the shores. The local people began to make walls and build small buildings from them. Ships today still use ballast materials to evenly distribute weight but are no longer allowed to empty those foreign materials on our shores.

Ballast material can be water or solids and must be dumped so many miles from our shores to ensure that any marine life included in the ballast will not contaminate the area. Marine life from foreign waters can cause havoc because they have no natural enemies here. It can upset the natural balance of the shore life and cause some species to become extinct.

It helped that Wilmington had an ironworks in town. It would cost a small fortune today for such elaborate work. Within the original one square mile of town, almost every home has a fence or wall of some form or fashion. It is a charming touch.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Kathi says:

    How blessed you are! you’re in the midst of such history that many take for granted or don’t even know or care about. I never knew of such history until I moved to Nashville and gained such a huge interest in history, I can’t get enough. Thankfully many folks are into preservation. Wonderful history you’ve shared, I enjoy it so much Anna.

    Kathi 🙂

    There is a lot to share all over our country and I think much of the history could be told the same. My part of NC has much of what is in Pennsylvania. It’s coming back too. Lots of new neighborhoods being built like long ago.


  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I have thought of doing a series of gate drawings and this post is certainly an inspiration. I guess I love iron gates because I know I could never afford them. The artistic/physical prowess that it takes to do such work is amazing in my eyes.

    **** It’s good to have you at my blog. I love gates and fencing also even if they won’t be connected. They look pretty when they stand alone as a focal point. I think you should do the gate drawings. I worked at a garden center and they fly off the walls. They were very popular.


  3. linda says:

    What a beautiful fence post Anna! ;~)

    I think your house would look great with a split rail fence.

    I can tell from the way you designed your new home how much you love old houses. Your home has so much character, charm, and architectural interest that you don’t see often enough in new homes.

    ** Thank you Linda! The older I get, the more I like old. I want some stone too. My husband says to quit thinking of more stuff to do. He wonders if a gardener ever runs out of ideas–well…what do ya’ll think?


  4. Les says:

    Hello again, I thought you had disappeared from the blogasphere. I stumble upon your new site from Edenmakers.

    This was a fascination post. I love Wilmington, it has reminded me of a smaller version of Charleston or Savannah, and your pictures are great.

    *** It is good to see you too!! I’ve been at this site for about 3 months give or take. I had to shut two of my blogs down by strong suggestion from our sheriff. He thought it may have led to the recent attempted break in to our home. The burglars didn’t make it in cause our Schlage dead bolts held.

    We fear we may have been home when it happened or they would have just broken the glass. It happened twice. But then they discovered it was a bunch of teenagers who were bored looking for quick cash. They think?? but still don’t know.

    It’s good to see you too. I think it looks very French/European because of the merchants and sea captains who had the money to be lavish. The main market at that time was pine tar. Pine tar is used between the boards on ships to keep them from leaking. It was a constant need. Wilmington also was connected to the inner cities of NC by The Old Plank Road. Tea, rice, grain, and hard goods were transported inland.

    The Old Plank Road was actually many roads with the longest going all the way to Winston Salem, NC. I live off the other end of the road. It was the main wagon trail for merchandise before the railroad took over.

    The 12 years right before the Civil War were the most prosperous for that area. After that, the railroad came in and goods left the port and went straight to Winston Salem. You can still see parts of the Old Plank Road today.

    Just down the street from me is a stagecoach station, made in to a house now. That home has ruts in the front yard where the heavy wagon loads wore it down.

    There was another surge in Wilmington in WW2. They were major ship builders. Today it is a thriving community with a more modern downtown away from the original historic area. They just led the way and went all digital before anyone else. I was a tourist downtown that day and the courthouse was a flurry of media reporting. I thought someone really famous was on scene. But no—-they were just changing the whole town over to digital and off analog.


  5. Jan says:

    What lovely photos of fences. Many of them remind me of the fences in the older sections of New Orleans, esp. the wrought iron ones. I just love the look of the old fences and would love to have one surrounding my property.

    Always Growing

    *** Jan that’s exactly what I told my husband when we were out walking about. The buildings down along the port really do look New Orleans or French. But their roots are moslty Scotch, I think. But then again…lots of people come to a port to settle. The sea captains and merchants did come from Europe.

    I would go more often if it wasn’t almost 5 hours from my home. NC is such a long state running East to West.


  6. Gail says:

    Sometimes I still dream of a garden with a courtyard. It has a nice fence and an inviting gate! Fabulous post Anna, Gail

    *** Thank you so much. I love My NC and anything associated with keeping it full of memories. I’m so emotional about it too. A pretty garden or the sorts of things I’ve been posting lately—make me want to cry with joy. I bet gardeners are the only ones who understand that.


  7. cindee11461 says:

    I just love old fences. I love the old weathered look. That door is really neat too. I have an old door I just stuck in the garden I have thought about painting it…I might just do that.

    *** Your sink turned out great so I’m sure the door will too. Haven’t we seen the door before? I think I’ve wanted one ever since;) I love anything old, but I can’t live in an old house because of allergies. I would never survive the renovations. I do support preservation though.


  8. Anna, thank you for this beautiful post!


    *** Jennifer–I was so hoping you would come by. I’ve felt badly since I left you with a broken link on the old homes. By the end of this week, I’ll have the tobacco homes moved here also.
    oxox back at cha!


  9. Cinj says:

    Fences are so intriguing, aren’t they? There aren’t as many fences up north here. None are allowed in my neighborhood either. I love both the rock and the iron fences, they are so intricate and beautiful. I have seen the second largest stone wall in the world. It surrounds the jail around the St. Cloud federal prison according to my uncle.

    ** We can’t have closed fences in our front yard. That makes sense though. It wouldn’t be much of a neighborhood if everyone was behind closed walls. I am going to put up a split rail. For the longest time, I wanted a picket but I think split rail goes more with the style of my home.


  10. Racquel says:

    All beautiful examples of how a fence can give a garden structure & personality.

    ** And to look down a long street and see them all lined up is beautiful.


  11. Anonymous says:

    What a lovely post, Anna, and stunning collection of charming fences … great photo subjects. Are these all in Wilmington?

    ** Hi Joey, yes, they are all from Wilmington. I have about 100 more pics of them cause they adorned every home. I’ve never seen a place so quaint.


  12. Wanita says:

    Anna, thanks for the interesting post about the fences. They are all pretty, but I’m especially partial to white picket fences. I also enjoyed reading about the ballast material. Although ships are required to dump it so many miles from shore, I wonder if they do since we hear news reports about foreign species invading our waterways.

    I hope your day is blessed.

    *** Hey Wanita—I’m sure that some ships probably get away with it but I heard there are stiff fines. I like any kind of fence. I want a split rail for this new house. My neighbor has a split rail between us and it has weathered so nicely.


  13. Thanks for the beautiful fence presentation.

    ** I’m glad you came along. Next time, we’ve got to stop and eat lunch at one of the tea rooms. The atmosphere is very Victorian and lacy. We would have a blast.


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