The shaded walk in some form or other has doubtless been a feature of southern sunny gardens all through the ages. In British gardens it is not exactly a necessity, since there are comparatively few days when sunshine is unbearable in its intensity. At the same time, British gardeners realize the immense aesthetic possibilities of the flower-covered pergola, and are more and more making use of this feature in garden design.
The use of the pergola in the garden is not only to provide a shaded walk, but partly to break the flatness of the design, and in many cases, also, to provide privacy, or to divide two portions of the garden. In, for instance, the pergola is often introduced to divide the vegetable garden from the flower or pleasure garden.
The material used in the construction depends partly on the use to which the pergola is put, and partly on the material used for other architectural features and for the house itself.
Dignity of Stone
Where a dignified appearance is desired in a large garden, a pergola made of stone piers, with substantial oak runners is ideal. Short brick pillars, with heavy oak supports built into them, and oak rails above, are also in keeping with a substantially built house.
Pergolas of this type should never be less than 8 ft. wide, and the runners should not be closer together than the width of the path. It is not necessary in this case to cover the pergola completely with, and -plenty of sunshine should be allowed to penetrate to the path below for the graceful outlines of the pergola to be shown to advantage.
For the bungalow or cottage, a pergola of peeled or unpeeled pine poles creates a delightful rustic effect. Even here, the width of the pergola should be such as to allow a substantial path below, where walking will be comfortable. A narrow pergola means that the, particularly if they are thorny roses, will obstruct the pathway.
The pergola that also forms a screen between one section of the garden and another, can, if desired, be closed completely by a light trellis on one side. This trellis can be of unostentatious rustic work, or in the case of a more formal type of pergola, a rather open, square trellis should be chosen.
All pergolas should be well furnished with climbing plants, which can be grown in a bed which is continuous all along the side of the pergola, or in small square or circular beds that surround the foot of the posts. Where the pergola is partly pergola and partly screen, the bed should be continuous.
It is not always necessary, or even desirable, for such a division pergola to be of straight design. A semi-circular pergola and screen combined make a delightful finish to a lawn, particularly if backed by groups of tall evergreens. Behind this, the vegetable garden will be completely hidden.
Paths Below Pergolas
It is important to choose the right type of material for paths over which a pergola is built. During wet weather, rain will drip on to the pathway, and it is therefore desirable that the path should be of brick, stone or tiles, so that it will dry quickly.
A very wide path, entirely of flagstones, may be rather too severe for some types of garden, and where this is undesirable, the path beneath the pergola can be of grass, with a centre walk of flagstones. This makes it possible for the path to be used immediately after showery weather, and at the same time retains the soft effect of the grass.
The pergola should always be beautiful in itself, and it should be remembered that when climbing plants are needed to cover the natural ugliness of a pergola, it can never be a successful feature of the garden. A well-designed pergola is one of the best ways of introducing beauty and form into a new garden and its artistic effect is immediately apparent.
When making a pergola the posts should be driven well into the ground. For instance, an eight-foot post should have at least two feet below the surface (ie. ten feet in all) and this two feet should be tarred or treated with some other preservative. To make the posts more secure they are often embedded in cement.
A pergola can be made entirely of wood in this way, or the sides of the pergola can be in the form of a low stone brick wall, or the posts can be brick or stone, with wooden runners (ie. the pieces that cross the top to make the arches;.
If a rustic pergola is built, it should be made of very durable wood, such as, as the climbing plants take some time to establish themselves and reach maturity. If soft wood is used, just as the plants reach their full beauty, the pergola may break down.