Whether your garden is large or small, long, wide or a completely uneven shape, you can guarantee that it will benefit from having some height added to it – and what better way to do this than by erecting an arch or arbour? The great thing is that, of course, any vertical structure you install in your garden makes for a new planting opportunity too…
So what are the advantages of a bit of vertical structural interest (aside from the plants it can support) and how can you make the very best of them in your garden?
Position an arbour it so that it overlooks a good view or particularly attractive part of the garden and you instantly create a fabulous place to sit and relax. You can also use an arch or even an arbour as a means of dividing your garden into one or more rooms. This age-old designer’s trick can make your garden seem a lot larger and more interesting.
Chosen carefully, arches and arbours themselves are good looking and can be a feature in their own right, so don’t necessarily go for the first one you see; shop around and remember that if you clothe them with climbers, you are adding to their appeal.
Some plants look great but others have another secret ingredient: scented climbers, like some of the rambling or climbing roses, or honeysuckle or jasmine, can totally transform the whole garden as their perfume wafts out for you to enjoy.
If an arbour is situated in a sunny spot and you have fairly free-draining soil, why not plant an area around it with lavenders? Then you can enjoy both the way it looks and the perfume and aromatic leaves as you sit and relax after a stressful day.
In sunny positions, thymes or camomile can be used to great effect on the approach to your archway or arbour – when your feet gently crush the thyme or camomile lawn, a fantastic aroma will be released.
Arches and arbours are available in a wide range of materials, but by far the most popular are those made from wood or metal. To a large extent it is a case of shopping around to find something that suits your garden style, the purpose you have in mind for it and, of course, your budget. I am a great fan of wood or metal because I find that they both fit in well with the sort of gardening style I like and, of course, you can always use one of the numerous and readily available wood stains or paints to transform it from its natural subtly coloured state to a bright blue, rich red or pretty well any colour you fancy!
Although it is possible to construct an arch or an arbour from scratch yourself, you will be amazed at the range of ready-made arbours and kits for both arches and arbours that are now available. If you choose wood, do ensure that it is a wood which is either naturally going to resist decay – western red cedar or a hardwood such as oak would be my first choice, with Douglas fir or larch a close second. Alternatively you can choose a softwood which has been tanalised or pressure-treated with a wood preservative, which will usually be somewhat cheaper.
By choosing a wooden arch, perhaps with a rounded top and trellis up the sides, you ensure a really good planting space, and this somewhat more rustic look fits in well with a particularly informal garden. Many of these are also relatively inexpensive and easy to install.
To find out just what’s available, it is well worth paying a visit to several local garden centres or taking a look at mail-order products from the numerous arch and arbour websites, which make window shopping even easier!
Visit Pippa’s website www.pippagreenwood.com and you’ll find some great gardening items: Nemaslug, ladybirds and other great natural pest controls, stylish cloches, practical and pretty plant supports, the fantastic SpeedHoe, gardening tools, planters, Grower Frames, signed books and more! Or why not book Pippa for a gardening talk at your gardening club?