Pergolas make an attractive and useful garden feature. They can add height to a garden as well as providing a shaded sitting area or walkway to shelter from the sun on hot days. The addition of climbing plants to the uprights enhances not only the visual effect, but also helps to block out the midsummer rays. Seating can be added underneath as a dining area when hosting a barbecue or dinner party or simply as a place to relax after a stressful day in an intimate and secluded space. Hanging baskets can be added for extra effect as well as potted plants placed a the base of the pillars. A well clothed pergola can provide privacy from overlooking neighbours. Choose a size to be in proportion to the scale of your garden and building. Pergolas may be connected to a building or free-standing. If connected to a building they can also give shade to rooms with too much sunlight.
Pergolas may be constructed from various materials. Wood or metal are popular and pillars can be constructed from brick or rendered blocks. The more traditional pergola often includes climbing plants such as climbing roses, Clematis, Honeysuckles, Ivies, Wisterias and vines to form a floral tunnel. Try to choose a mixture of plants that will provide year round interest. Choose a selection that will provide different flowering seasons. Evergreens will give winter interest, but beware they may provide too much shade in winter. Scented plants such as Jasmine, roses etc will add fragrance to the garden. Ornamental hops add foliage colour as do Ivies. Ornamental vines can give dazzling autumn foliage colour. Two climbers can be planted near the base of a pillar to provide longer interest such as a Clematis growing through a climbing rose. Choose groups of Clematis such as the Viticellas that can be pruned hard in winter or spring allowing the pruning of the roses. Consider the weight of the plants in relation to the strength of the pergola materials.
Image copyright Harrod Horticultural
Contemporary pergolas sometimes do not need climbing plants. Shade can still be provided by blinds or sails. These can also cast interesting shadows on the garden. A very modern, stylish look can be achieved in this way. Potted plants at the base of the uprights such as box or bay or palms will not only soften the effect, but also stop people from accidentally walking into posts.
Pergolas as well as being an attractive feature can lead the eye along a vista to a focal point such as a statue as in the image at the top of this article. They can frame a view and can also mark a change in path direction to lead you through the garden. They can also create the image of another room outside, extending our living space.
If planting is required for your pergola then a wide range is available from suppliers such as Crocus or Waitrose garden. For other suppliers visit our Supplier Directory
To view a good selection of pergolas from some of the UKs top suppliers on our online shop click here