Last summer, when I was playing with my kids at Weezie’s Garden for Children at Elm Bank in Wellesley, I made the acquaintance of Frank Hamm, who was doing maintenance work on some of the many structures that he had built in the garden. My kids have spent hours climbing in his two story “tree house”, as well as in the woven twig “birds’ nests”. I was always amazed by the creativity and craftsmanship of these structures, and so I was pleased to meet him in person. I took his card, and when it was time to build a fence for a future kitchen garden in my backyard, I gave him a call.
The vegetable and herb garden will be the focal point of the backyard, which was a flat expanse of lawn when we bought our house last summer. The other elements of my future design for the backyard–including berry plants, a native meadow garden, several natural play areas for children, a compost pile, a clothes drying area, and a tether ball court–will fall into place after the vegetable garden fence is built. Because of the central location of the garden (right smack in the middle of the backyard, where the most sunlight falls), and because a vegetable garden can look a bit wild or empty for much of the year, I wanted a decorative fence that would add year-round structure to the area. The rustic flavor that Frank Hamm employs in his work really appealed to me, as well as the fact that he uses naturally rot-resistant wood. Even though pressure-treated wood is less toxic now than in the past, I still prefer non-treated wood for use around edible plants. Frank often works with un-milled red cedar logs and branches (from our native eastern red cedar, Juniperus virginiana). From seeing his work at Elm Bank, Garden in the Woods, and Wellesley College, I knew that was exactly what I wanted. Also, a red cedar fence can last 30 years, as opposed to white cedar, which supposedly will last about 10 years. I am planning on bountiful harvests from this garden for years to come!
In late fall, Frank hand-dug all the holes to about 2 feet deep and began setting the posts. The posts were 8 to 9 feet tall, to allow for a 6 foot high fence.
Diagonal pieces add support and an artistic touch.
We chose 6 foot high galvanized wire with 2 inch by 4 inch openings. There is a layer of 4 foot high chicken wire at the base of the fence, dug about 8 inches into the ground to deter rabbits and groundhogs.
Frank made the gate in his workshop, embellishing it with woven red cedar branches. Here it is, arriving in high style.
And finally, the completed fence! The woven twig gate adds to the rustic appeal of the fence.
Looks like it will keep out small children–hopefully it will work for other varmints as well!
Frank added a sturdy latch at the top of the gate.
He used a special kind of hinge that allows the entire gate to be lifted off if something is too wide to fit through.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with Frank, and hope that we can collaborate in the future on other projects. You can view more of Frank’s work on his website, or go enjoy it in person at Weezie’s Garden for Children at Elm Bank in Wellesley.