The White Picket Fence


The first time I moved to Mendocino was when Antonia went off to college and “mom moved to the country to get a dog.” I went from a burgeoning Marin County to a little bitty town out on the coast, directly across the street from the raging ocean on the headlands. Oh my gosh, it was noisy at night. It took some real getting used to. But there I was in the woods, oh so still, you would not believe how still. And I got that dog, my Moxie, now on the other side, bless her heart. And Mendocino, the most beautiful of small towns, became my central hub. So I am always thrilled at the opportunity, as happened last weekend, to go out to Mendo (as we locals call it), and absorb all that Mendo is and offers. Last weekend it offered an awfully lot, as not only was there a Summer Arts Fair going on at Mendocino Art Center, where I was meeting a friend, but as I learned upon arrival, the Mendocino Music Festival was also going on. Lordie. Think lots of tourists. Lots. I decided to join the fray but thought with some regret I might not be able to do the shoot I’d been hoping for and planning on.

As fate (spelled BORDER COLLIES) would have it, I arose at 5:30AM, and not wanting to awaken my friend and her family, I showered, dressed and sneaked off in the Explorer with the puppies before 7:00AM. What a boon! I arrived to an empty, foggy town. Perfect, early soft light.


I suddenly found myself with the unexpected luxury of having Mendo basically all to myself, free to walk down the center of the wide streets shooting whatever captured my imagination! What I began immediately to focus on was one of the most charming aspects of the town of Mendocino: the white picket fence. Though I have photographed Mendo in the past, somehow having the gardening blog as a photo destination allowed me to hone in on this white picket fence theme and I will now show you why. Ready?


Those hydrangeas were a knock out! Now fancy this.


Oh, goodness. Can you begin to imagine how thrilled I was to be able to just walk and shoot, totally unencumbered on one of the busiest weekends of the year? Lucky me! It just kept getting better.

white poppy

I happen to absolutely adore matillija poppies (dreadfully called Fried Egg Poppy or Fried Egg Flower), so I was very pleased to find these growing in abundance in front of this beautiful old white house.

Mendocino has very strict ordinances about keeping architecture in keeping with its charm. This allows this white picket fence and flower culture to thrive. It is found not only among the residences, but also in the small commercial district as well.




Even the health food store, our famed Corners of the Mouth (named after a hexagram in the I Ching), housed for many years in this old church, honors the white picket fence.

Corners of the Mouth

Naturally, I began to wonder about the origin of the white picket fence and found very little to illuminate its introduction, though Wikipedia revealed it was very old, indeed, having been incorporated since Colonial days, making me think perhaps it likely jumped the pond. Perhaps a UK reader might shed light on this possibility. Meanwhile it occurred to me that I did have a photo (most miraculously) of my gggggggggrandfather George Hall’s home in Taunton, Massachusetts. George and his wife Mary came in the mid-1600′s from Devon, England. And would you believe this?

G. Hall home

I know. I know. I wonder if Mary loved flowers as much as we do, and what she might have planted?

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

53 Responses to “The White Picket Fence”

  1. I do have it on my to do list. I love a white picket fence.I want it to come in about 4 feet off the road so I can plant soft and inviting whispy flowers in front of it.

  2. What a beautiful picture set. We’ll take the one with the lavender… maybe a few roses thrown in there for height and color contrast. Yup… that will do… we’ll take one please!

  3. Hi, Anna–Yes, that sounds really lovely! Post something when it’s done! Kathryn xox

  4. Welcome Shibaguyz! And you would particularly love Mendocino as it’s full of dogs. Everywhere! I walked the BC’s on the headlands at least four times! Thanks for the visit! Kathryn xox

  5. I really enjoyed this post and your pictures. I LOVE that church with the health food store inside. It is beautiful.

  6. Shala, thank you for visiting! Yes, that is a lovely store which has been nurturing folks for a long time now. It’s very peaceful and earthy inside. Maybe someday you will go. Kathryn xoxo

  7. Kathryn, this was a lovely post. Thank you. I hope to visit Mendo someday.~~Dee

  8. Good morning, Dee! Perhaps when you are out in Portland this fall you’ll drop down this way! Kathryn xox

  9. Such a beautiful place! I’d like to order the one with the lavender too please:).Thanks for sharing Kathryn.

  10. Hi!
    You have captured Mendocino village beautifully. My aunt and grandmother lived there and I have such happy memories of it. The fog is beautiful in the morning. You have captured the quiet and the damp morning gardens. Doris Wood created many of the gardens in the village years ago. You would have loved her. She looked as though she grew out of the earth itself. She was so gererous with cuttings and friendship.Strolling in the village is a delight, especially with doggie friends. You have captured it so that I can sense the dripping cypress and hear the fog muffled sounds of the surf below the cliffs.
    Thanks for a wonderful journey, and a lovely way to spend a morning.
    Best Regards,

  11. Welcome, Chey! Thanks for the visit. I’m so glad you enjoyed the journey! Warmly, Kathryn

  12. Good morning, Philip! I knew you would appreciate this post, especially after your lovely one of your lovely village down south. We are so fortunate to know and live in these villages. Thanks for the additional history! I had not heard of Doris. Kathryn xox

  13. Oh Kathryn! what a lovely fairytale place is this! This seems like totally dreamy place. White picket fence is adorable. I think I will become a fan of it. kiss. ewa

  14. Gorgeous!!! I Love the one with lavender too! So Beautiful!
    How fortunate to have had that morning time to yourself! (for us as well!)
    Love you

  15. Kathryn,

    I love Mendocino, we usually combine it with a visit to the Botanical gardens. You have had so many lovely places to live, lucky us you are willing to share. The pictures are just beautiful. We had a white picket fence where we lived in San Jose complete with red roses, blue hydranges and more. It is deja vu all over again. Thanks for a really lovely post. I can’t wait to go again. Did I mention I really love the pictures, so perfect


  16. Hi, dear Ewa! Yes, it is charm, charm, charm. I’m sure you have comparable charming places in Poland. That garden you took us to was incredible! Are there white picket fences in Poland? Hugs. Kathryn

  17. Hi, Baby Girl! Yes, the one with lavender is very pretty. Happy! I think my fav would have to be the roses next to the arbor. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Why don’t we all do this allof the time??? When I was in SF in the 60′s I had this idea to try to get everyone in the City to plant windowboxes to transform SF into the FlowerChild City it had become. It’s not too late. :) Love, Mommie D.

  18. Hi, Marjorie! Yes, it’s visceral, isn’t it, how we all respond to such beauty? I’m sure we could be doing more with this bit of information about the human spirit! I bet your garden in San Jose was beautiful, given what you’ve done up on the ranch! Hugs, Kathryn

  19. Lovely photos. They remind me so much of how a small town near me looked before Hurricane Katrina’s winds knocked down so many big trees and damaged homes and fences like these. Mendocino is right to preserve and protect areas like this.

    Always Growing

  20. Welcome, Jan! Thanks for the visit. It makes me so sad to hear you say that. Katrina without a doubt is one of the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed in my life (and that was from my living room in AZ on tv!) It totally broke my heart. I’m so sorry you have experienced this kind of loss. Thankfully it will in time rebloom, the nature of life. Big hug, Kathryn xox

  21. What a picturesque place! The picket fences, the roses, the fragrance…it looks like heaven, Kathryn. Thank you for sharing these beautiful images.

  22. Hi, Pam! I’m so glad you enjoyed the visit! Thanks for stopping by! :) Kathryn xox

  23. Hi Kathryn,
    I enjoyed the “picket fence tour!” What a great opportunity to photograph these special gardens before the hustle and bustle. I think this helped you capture the serenity and beauty of this idyllic setting. No wonder so many people are drawn to picket fences!

  24. Oh, thats so utterly beautiful! I love the early morning photos of the sleeping town. Are picket fences all made of wood? I’ve never seen any here in India. We’re big on security, so fences are at least 6′ high and have ugly barbed wire on top. Ugh! but practical when the law enforcement department is too stretched, or in some places, non-functional. But, most important in my case, the termites in my garden would have a feast and I’m in no mood to throw them a party! Beautiful blog, Kathryn

  25. The fences look great – the white really sets off the colours of the plants. I particularly like the contrast with the lavender.

  26. Hi, Shirley, You are absolutely right. Within two hours Mendocino was packed wall to wall with people there to enjoy the Music Festival which takes place under a huge white tent on the cliffs above the ocean. Think the Boardwalk! Thanks for the visit. Kathryn xox

  27. Sunita, welcome to Plant Whatever Brings You Joy! I know exactly what you are talking about. I lived in Mexico City. Here’s a beautiful tip I learned there: they surround their houses with those same tall stucco walls, but here’s what they do to discourage intruders: when they fashion the walls they embed shards of beautiful broken glass–I’m certain broken bottles– (points up) into the stucco! The light catches the multi-colored glass shards and is quite lovely–but no one in their right mind would try to scale! Then they cover them with bougainvillea, for good beauty measure! Oh, the Mexican people are so creative!
    Kathryn xox PS: Picket fences traditionally are made of wood, but the plastic version is now being marketed…

  28. Welcome, Sue! It’s interesting that folks are consistently drawn to the lavender! Thanks for your visit!
    Kathryn xox

  29. Congratulations on making #1! I was impressed with the beauty and contrast between the white picket fences and the reds and lavenders.It sure would be fantastic if the rest of our country worked at making their communities as beautiful. Keep up the fantastic photos and writing.

  30. Hi, Mary! Thank you! It’s fun! Yes, Mendo is one of those lovely picturesque towns that is still a model for what can be. I think New England has many small towns like this, still. Am I right, readers? Love, Kathryn

  31. I’ve always loved white picket fences with flowers around. I Would have a very difficult time choosing a favorite as they are all lovely!

  32. Hi, Robin, yes, very very charming combination. I’m more determined to create one here. And, yes, it seems to work with any combination! Thanks for visiting! Kathryn xox

  33. Oh my, these photos are all so beautiful, makes me want to move there. I love the roses with the arbor too but I’d take any of them! I’ve never had a white picket fence but always admire them. Fabulous post.

  34. Hello, Kathleen. :) Welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for the visit! Kathryn

  35. Hi Kathryn, it’s been far too long since I’ve paid you a visit. I’m so glad I did. This is a perfectly delightful post. What luck you were able to have that lovely town to yourself on a perfect morning for taking photos.

    I’m completely amazed you have a photo of an ancestral home from so long ago. George and Mary Hall’s home would have fit right into beautiful Mendocino. I hope I’ll one day have an opportunity to visit there, stroll the sidewalks, and see the picket-fence gardens and the beautiful vintage homes behind them.

  36. It’s all so magical. I loved the picket fence tour and felt your excitement too. Thank you so much for getting up early and catching the worm.

  37. Good morning, Linda! Welcome! Yes, it was fortunate, and thank you for mentioning the photo of George and Mary Hall’s home. It is truly amazing this photo is available and I feel incredibly blessed to have it in hand. Good observation that that early impulse is alive and well here in California. I see that I am part of that and for that I am deeply grateful. I appreciate your visiting, and I hope you find yourself strolling the village of Mendocino one day. :) Kathryn xox

  38. Hi, Anna! We can thank the Border Collies for the early start! What could have been viewed as a disadvantage (lively dogs needing to be kept still) turned out to be good fortune! How often is that the case? A lot! Kathryn xooo

  39. Kathryn, white picket fences? in Poland? you are kidding me. you can see different kind of brown, black and grey, not white. I don’t know why.
    I just have tagged you, have a look at my blog ;)
    greetings, ewa

  40. Wonderful post – I’ve been saving money for a picket fence to go around my house. Unfortunately, I’m doing thingsbackward – I have the plants already and will put the fence in later, which might pose some problems. I can’t tell from the photos but I’m curious to know are these fences made of wood or the white plastic that resembles wood?

  41. My goodness, how enchanting, especially with all those roses tumbling down. It reminds me of the streets of Nantucket. Beautiful and quaint!

  42. Hi, Phillip–Welcome! I’m not sure if it will “pose a problem.” It probably depends on how much space you allotted, right? I know it’s hard to judge sometimes. All the white picket fencing I’ve seen in the village of Mendocino is wooden. There really is an emphasis there on maintaining that old look. Thank you for the visit. Kathryn

  43. Good morning, Nancy! Yes, that’s what I think, too. New England has towns like this. I remember. Welcome. Kathryn xox

  44. Wonderful photos of the classic white picket fence. They just make everything look good. I love mine!

  45. Welcome to Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, Connie! Thank you! And I can see why you love yours!
    (I peeked!) :) Kathryn xox

  46. The white picket fences and flowering vines and perennials are stunning!

    I had a white picket fence at our first house (a red brick ranch) and have a weathered gray one now behind the main vegetable garden and to the sides of our house (a granite one). I love the way that picket fences frame edges and make a barrier/edge into a decorative element.

    Thanks for a lovely post!

  47. Hi, Lisa, Thank you for visiting! Yes, the white picket fence surely is a decorative element. Lucky you to have one. I visited your blog. Beautiful blue butterfly! Kathryn xox

  48. Hi Kathryn,
    It has taken me much too long to make it over to your lovely blog. Thank you for visiting and commenting on mine.

    This was a lovely post to read and to view all the beautiful photos of the small Mendocino town. How very nice you had it all to yourself in that early hour. The very words “white picket fence” evoke thoughts of well being. All those gorgeous flowers were breathtaking.
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

  49. Well, welcome, Meems! Thank you for your visit. It’s appreciated. Warmly, Kathryn

  50. Oh, I love it! It looks like such a friendly place, and I imagine that almost anywhere you go, there’ll be a comfy spot to sit and drink some coffee and look at all the flowers.

  51. Hi, Lori–You are so right! Mendocino is bursting with places where one might sit and admire the view!
    Thank you for the visit. Kathryn xox

  52. oooooo….just stumbled on your blog looking for landscaping ideas for my new white picket fence. looooooooooooooooooooooove your photos. I’m also so jealous that you’re in Mendo–one of my favorite places. Hey…can you suggest something yummy to plant in the 15 inches I have between my fence and the sidewalk? I love lavender, but am worried they’d get to big and that they might not do well under my big old walnut tree.

  53. Welcome, Blog Mama! Gosh, I’d really be reticent to recommend what would grow well near a walnut tree. That would require more knowledgeable folks than myself. I know it’s touchy, as I have two walnut trees on this property. It also depends on whether they are English walnuts or not. Can you google it? They emit something that some plants will die near, right? It’s good you are considering how big something would get, though. It’s a mistake I’m afraid I’ve made more than once. :) Lavender sounds good, though, if you can get away with it. And then you can choose between French and Spanish, right? Kathryn xoox

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