Arbors & Pergolas: Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop

Don’t you just love this wisteria-and-morning glory cloaked pergola in my garden?

NOT! I wish. I have no arbors or pergolas in my garden, and this month I’m sorely feeling the lack. The folks over at Gardening Gone Wild have designated January’s design workshop topic “Arbors and Pergolas,” and garden bloggers all over are showing off their beautiful handiwork.

Ah well. I’ll have to content myself with showing you eye candy—from grand to homey—from gardens I’ve visited over the past couple of years.

Confession: The massive pergola pictured at top is located in the English Walled Garden in the Chicago Botanic Garden. I admire the combination of classical columns and rustic, heavy timbers.

To contrast, how about this elegant, spare arbor in James David’s garden (which the Spring Flingers will tour in April)? Vertical ironwork shelters a couple of corner seats and a beautifully pieced, cut-limestone floor, and frames a view of the dining terrace and limestone dovecote. Gorgeous.

A series of white, triangular arbors leads visitors to a gazebo on the grounds of the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, Texas.

Here’s a fun twist on the classic entry arbor. The Antique Rose Emporium frames its entrances with clay-pot arbors. How many pots went into the construction, I wonder.

Here’s the other one.

A sinewy cedar arbor offers a shady welcome to customers at Barton Springs Nursery—and provides a handy bike rack.

An arching allee of espaliered Bradford pears in Deborah Hornickel’s garden functions like a series of arbors: it frames a view and pulls visitors along a path. It would also be a delightful spot for an alfresco dinner party.

No favoritism here, I promise! But I delight in my mother’s cheerful, hollyhock-festooned garden, which includes this humble, copper arbor made of welded tubing. The dangling, pastel ovals spell out Welcome. Indeed!

Mom loves wisteria too and had this large, cedar pergola constructed to shade an open patio. As you can see, it’s very cozy on a summer evening with the twinkle lights glowing.

Life’s a Journey—Enjoy It, a rustic, twig arbor reminds us at the Natural Gardener nursery, another stop on the upcoming Spring Fling tour.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey down memory lane with me. If I can’t squeeze an arbor or pergola into my own garden (and I may yet—who knows?), at least I can enjoy them in others’.

All material © 2006-2008 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

21 Responses

  1. Benjamin says:

    Well, the pears are my favorite–I remember seeing many such things when I visited Italy and France many years ago. I wish I had the time to do something like that; and by time I mean staying in one place long enough. Instead, I like to make thick and tall borders with varied foliage and texture to brush against. Thanks for the pics!

    I’ve spent my garden time working on thick evergreen borders too, Benjamin. But formal elements like the allee appeal to me more and more. —Pam

  2. We love pergolas.
    They take the garden to other level.
    We live on a field and need to take “up” the plants from the ground.
    I describe two of our garden rooms in my blog now, and in one of them has a pergola that I build,litle in a japanise stile.
    It is unfortunately from the first yaer (2003) now its growing Rosa “Luckefund” al over it.
    I put in the second part today (friday) For you, whiht your time you can see it tomorow.

    Your pergolas are beautiful, Ken. And, as you say, very necessary to give definition on a flat property. —Pam

  3. Frances says:

    Those are some creative arbors. I can’t wait to see the James David garden. Antique Rose Emporium is a gem, everyone should go see it if they can.

    Yes, Antique Rose Emporium IS a gem. If only it were located in Austin rather than out at Brenham. —Pam

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    OOOOoooooo these are inspirational. It makes me want to start creating… I was surprised by the arbor made with pots.
    It seems so unusual. The pots wouldn’t last here due to the freeze thaw business but it would be fun to see.

    That freeze-thaw business sounds tricky. Do you have to take all your pots in for the winter, even tough, glazed pots from Vietnam? —Pam

  5. jodi says:

    These are terrific, although the only one I don’t like is the one in the Antique Rose Emporium with the triangular arches. It’s too sharp and cold for me, isn’t that odd? The terra-cotta pot arches, on the other hand, are stunning yet playful. Wouldn’t I love to have one like that, but I think you’d need your own terra-cotta making plant, don’t you? Probably wouldn’t work in our more harsh climate.

    I’m with you, Jodi. The Victorian triangular arbors appeal to me least also. Maybe if they were dripping with roses… And yes, the terracotta archway is eye-catching and fun. A great entry for a nursery. —Pam

  6. Nan Ondra says:

    What a fantastic photo gallery, Pam! And how cool to see your mom’s garden. Thanks for taking the time to gather these photos from your archives for this month’s GBDW. I promise that next month’s topic will be one that everyone can easily join in on.

    Nan, I was happy to participate, even if none of these arbors graces my own garden, alas. —Pam

  7. Dave says:

    Very nice collection of Arbors! The pot arbor was especially interesting and also liked the triangular arbors. You did a good job of illustrating many different kinds of arbors!

    Thanks, Dave. I’m glad you enjoyed the arbors. Each of these caught my eye at one time or another. It was fun to revisit them for this post. —Pam

  8. Nice choices, Pam – and June’s patio is fun.

    Although her allee looked lovely when we saw it on the Conservancy tour, Deborah Hornickle said she wouldn’t use those pears if she had it to do over again. I think the maintenance has been a huge problem.

    As to arches in your garden …. don’t I seem to remember walking through a metal arch in 2006? Until Pam went out with a saw and it wasn’t there anymore!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    I wonder what Deborah Hornickle would use for her allee if she had it to do over again?

    And yes, I did have a homemade copper arbor at one time. But it was built too close to the house, and its arch proved too low once the vines reached the top. So—off with its head! Only the base remains, as a kind of gate marking the entry to the shed space. —Pam

  9. Ki says:

    I hate Bradford pears with a passion but the arbor made with them looks rather inviting. Our neighbor butchered/pruned their Bradford pear so maybe I should put a copy of the photo in their mailbox to show them what can be done. I think it’s too late though since the pear is quite large.

    Life’s a Journey, Enjoy it! is almost as bad as waiters delivering your food saying “Enjoy”.

    I think the dark cold and gloom is getting to me. Too negative these days.

    Bradford pears are commonly planted here in Austin, but they have the same problems here as everywhere : weak wood, easily broken by wind or ice. I do believe that Hornickle trained her pears when they were pretty small. Ki, I hope you get some sunshine soon. Gray winter days can be hard on a person’s good mood. —Pam

  10. What a wonderful collection of arbours, even though some of them have gone potty! I’m trying to grow an apple arbour, but it will take some time. Your mother has got a very nice patio area, love those little lights!

    Hi, YE. Mom really uses her outdoor spaces, like you do. Thanks for stopping by. —Pam

  11. I thought I recognized that 1st arbor! Long have I admired it, but I like the rustic twig one from Natural Gardener. The clay pot arbor is truly a work of art. You’ve got to stop posting fabulous photos of Austin – I really wish I could go!

    Ha, I thought some Chicagoans might catch my opening fib. I really enjoyed your city’s Botanic Garden. How lucky you are to be able to see it whenever you like.

    As for posting fabulous photos of Austin, I can’t stop now. I’m still in Spring Fling invitation mode! —Pam

  12. Great. Sure. Fine. Now I’m gonna have to rethink my next arbor project.

    This makes me want to go out and build one too, Jim. —Pam

  13. Karen says:

    Lovely arbors and pergolas! I have a hard time deciding which of those I want in my garden. I think that metal one in James David’s garden takes the cake. Love modern design. I’m not so keen on the plant pot ones at the Antique Rose Emporium!

    That arbor in James David’s garden IS striking, isn’t it? It puts a modern spin on the traditional gazebo. —Pam

  14. Robin says:

    Pam, I’m with you. I don’t have any arbors either and your post just make me have arbor envy all the more. I loved the first picture, that one was my favorite. You really had a nice variety of styles to showcase.

    Robin, I bet you’ve got a perfect spot for an arbor somewhere, don’t you? I sure wish I did. —Pam

  15. Bonnie says:

    Great post, Pam. Very inspiring to see all of these treatments of arbors. I have always loved the one at the Rose Emporium. Maybe I could put one like it across my driveway! Think the neighbors would complain?

    The pots? That would shake up the neighborhood, all right. Maybe in South Austin you could get away with it. ;-) —Pam

  16. Nicole says:

    All very lovely and charming. I especially like the first two, your mother’s garden-looks like out of a storybook, and the allee of espaliered Bradford pears. For the new house/garden I have two arbors/pergolas planned.

    I can’t wait to see how your arbors turn out, Nicole. —Pam

  17. Layanee says:


    Inspirational as always! I like them all in the settings chosen! I have one scrawny arbor which I will have to include in a post like this one. There is still time isn’t there? Keep teasing with the ASF and you never know who might actually book tickets!

    There’s always time, Layanee. The Garden Bloggers Design Workshop topics come once a month, but you can post anytime and get a link back, if memory serves. And I will definitely keep teasing—I mean, posting about—the Spring Fling in hopes that you-never-know-who will actually book her reservations. —Pam

  18. Diana says:

    Thanks for all the arbor pictures. There is an arbor in my plan for the vegetable garden entrance and this gives me lots of great ideas! Unfortunately it’s a project that requires digging of post-holes, so I’ll be at someone else’s mercy for the actual work!

    I just saw in a gardening book that you can rent a giant auger that digs post-holes. How cool is that? Don’t you just want one? I do. —Pam

  19. kerri says:

    We keep knocking ideas around about an arbor too. Of the several you’ve shown, the natural ones appeal to me most, and the top one with the big beams covered in vines. Your mom’s garden is full of personality and very whimsical :)
    Thanks for these lovely photos…plenty of ideas here!

    I’m happy that you find inspiration in these images too. I sure do. —Pam

  20. germi says:

    My favorite? Your Mom’s! I imagine that so many people have wanted to become gardeners after spending time there… You?

    Oh, you are sweet, Germi. Mom inspired me to garden well before her current garden came into existence. Now we enjoy talking plants and sharing divisions when we see each other. —Pam

  21. NFT says:

    First image, classic John Brookes at the Chicago Botanic Garden. The paving and urn were a dead give-away! Thanks Pam, keep up the good work.