A Roof Over One’s Head

Pergola, arbor, gazebo,pavilion, grotto, umbrella, gloriette-there are plenty of  words that allude to a roof over one’s head in the garden. This steel pergola, at 9′ by 24′, is large enough to comfortably host a dinner party, or provide a spot to sit and view the gardens yet to come.   This pergola also provides a structure on which to grow vining plants. In this case I plan for 3 species of clematis.  The vigorous growing sweet autumn clematis will provide a living roof; the species clematis vitacella violacea, and clematis Jackmani Superba will bloom profusely with small flowers, up over the roofline.
gloriette3This pavilion is very much about enclosure.  It would be fine with vines, and fine without.  The client who purchased this steel “building” had us construct cedar and steel benches for the sides; it became a place to meet in her garden.


 An arbor celebrates the transition from one garden room to another.  An architect friend once explained to me that transition spaces in buildings are important.  Thery provide a space to exit, and a space to anticipate what is to come.  Wood arbors have a very attractive look, but there is maintenance involved.  If I plant a wood arbor, I try to plant something amenable to being cut back, or taken down, when repainting becomes necessary.  Some clients choose to let a paint finish wear; this can be a charming look.


 This large and sturdy arbor is situated at the juncture of an L-shape in the landscape.  It provides a center of interest for two entirely different gardens.  The brick piers match the brick of the house.  As the client intended for the arbor to have wisteria, or grapes, we made it overly tall.  A planted roof  lowers the ceiling; plan to be able to walk through easily even after the roof vines grow in.


 An arbor can also be a sculpture in its own right.  This faux bois arbor is concrete and mortar over steel, hand carved to look like birch.  Contructed in four pieces for ease of transport,  it bolted together with stainless steel bolts once it was delivered.  This arbor took  over three months of one person’s work time  to fabricate.  It is a spectacular structure.  I designed the structure specifically for  the center of an oval lawn fringed in a  planting of Himalayan white-barked birch and Sum and Substance hosta. 


 This contemporary version of a French house had oak details that are repeated in this steel structure.  A berceau, or trellis- covered walkway, was a common feature in mid-eighteenth century French gardens. 


 This garden shelter with integral bench I designed specifically to provide screening from a neighboring garage.  As the space was too narrow for plants, this arbor distracts the eye from a less than desirable view. 


This classically inspired arbor and bench is home to several wisteria vines.  The vines are pruned regularly to keep them in bounds; all the growth is kept on the roof, providing a cool shady roof under which to sit between gardens.  A roof over one’s head in the garden can take many forms and be made of varying materials.  They can serve different purposes, in an ornamental way.