Garden Structures: Pergolas, Trellises and Arbors

No matter what size your garden is, there is nothing more enchanting then a pergola, trellis, or archway, smothered in climbing roses and vines. Climbing Dortmand, Ispahan, Gertrude Jekyll and other lovely fragrant roses, were made for these structures. They can be made of pipe, wood or plastic, homemade or prefab, it really doesn’t matter. They only serve as a support for your favorite rose or vine.

There are some critical things to consider before you install one of these structures. First: get it sited properly, and for maximum effect. Walk your garden and look through windows, so you can pick just the right spot. Once you chosen your site, clear it off and make certain it’s level. Using a post hole digger, dig the corners of the structure. Using a post hole digger, gives you a nice, smooth, even set of support holes. Place the structure in the holes: you need another person for this project, and stand back to make certain it’s standing straight. Use a level to be sure. Remove the structure and set aside. Mix up some Quik-Rete concrete, Have your partner, replace the structure in its support holes, and check the level again. Pour in the concrete around each supporting post. Smooth the surface. Once this dries, you should have a strong, long lasting garden structure. Wait 3 days before planting your roses, to allow settling to occur.

On planting day, dig your planting hole 6 inches away from the frame. After siting and planting the rose, water in well. At this point, unless this is an established climber, not much needs to be done, beyond routine care. Once the rose puts on growth you need to begin to train it up the structure. After trying a variety of materials for anchoring canes to the frame, I now use the soft organic cotton twine. It work extremely well, and don’t hurt the roses. For every foot of growth, I add another tie. Any wild or deformed side canes need to be pruned off.

The first season you’ve planted your arbor, don’t expect huge growth or lots of blooms. The bush is acclimating itself, and getting established. Some varieties, depending on your climate, may take 2 years to really put on a big show. For large structures, adding vines in combination with the roses, can be truly spectacular. Passiflora Cerulea, Clematis, Chilean jasmine, or even grapes, provide a fascinating and multi-textural garden display. A small garden might use a climbing rose, with the vines clambering up the fence behind it, for a gorgeous backdrop.

Your choices are only limited by your imagination. In your garden, YOU are the artist. Opening your creative eye to the endless garden palette, will bring you the garden of your dreams.

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