Trellis options

As well as supporting climbers, freestanding or wall-hung trellis can be a charming decorative feature in its own right.

Night, can act as a dramatic focal point, while extensive use of trellis, especially in a small garden, can become the garden’s distinctive, unifying theme.

Trellis can often combine the best of both worlds. Large free-standing trellis panels can create a T rellis can be modest looking or even virtually invisible in a garden – ivy-covered white trellis against a white-painted wall, for example – but it can also play a prominent role in a garden’s style and structure.

Sense of enclosure, privacy and shelter at a fraction of the cost of a wall. And, like net curtains in-doors, trellis panels allow light to penetrate – important when trellis is used to extend the height of boundary fences or walls in an already shady garden.

Trellis can be used on its own or as part of a multiple feature: sur-rounding a wall fountain, for example; as a free-standing arch over a statue; or as the frame for a trompe l’oeil mirror to help deceive the eye.

Trellis is usually sold in natural wood, or painted or plastic-coated white, black or green, to blend in with the garden. Consider painting trellis to match a door, window boxes or shutters, or just to provide a year-round splash of contrasting colour: rich royal blue, bold red or sunny yellow, perhaps, or subtle half-tones.

Ideas for arches

To add extra colour and impact to an entrance way, or an extra vertical dimension to a flat, featureless garden, an arch may well be the answer.

W hether starkly formal or charmingly rustic, an arch always catches the eye. Over a door or entrance gate, it creates a sense of arrival; draped with attractive foliage or flowers, it becomes a colourful, possibly fragrant, focal point; and even without a covering of plants, it can create an imposing sculptural presence. Arches can extend the architecture of the house into the garden, or invite the eye to focus on a distant view.

A single arch can make a bold design statement, but you can also use two arches, one behind the other, to emphasize a particular perspective. One arch overlapping the other lends a strong diagonal element to the layout, while several arches in a row create a pergolalike effect.

Arch decoration

Arches featuring one variety of climber can be magnificent, but for a more unusual effect consider planting a different climber either side of the side supports. It might be a subtle combination, such as earlv- and late-flowering varieties of honeysuckle, to extend the seasons. You could choose an evergreen and a deciduous climber -ivy and hybrid clematis, for example – for year-round cover plus a bright seasonal splash. Or you could team a summer jasmine, with its tiny but fragrant blooms, with a large-bloomed but scentless climbing rose.

Fun options

Consider hanging flower-filled baskets from arches, with or without climbers, for instant brilliant colour. You can cheat by using good quality fake flowers for an arch in an exposed or sunless spot. For short-term glory – a summer wedding reception in the garden, for example – arrange cut flowers and foliage in florists’ foam-filled hanging baskets, and tie ribbon bows in toning colours to the framework of the arch. (If you are hanging a central basket, always allow for headroom if the arch is over a path.) Floodlighting or spotlighting an arch can add dramatic atmosphere, especially if it can be seen from the main rooms of the house or you are in the garden on a summer’s evening. For a special occasion – an evening party, for example – attach Christmas tree fairy lights to the arch. However, make sure you use lights that are safe for outdoor use.

If you have a large, established hedge or are planting one, you could consider incorporating an arch. Yew, hornbeam, holly and beech are ideal hedging plants for living arches.

You can also plant a simplified freestanding version – two laburnum trees, for example, planted close together, on either side of an entrance, so that their crowns enmesh to form a natural arch, hung with pendent yellow flowers in spring.

Vegetable ideas

Arches and flowering climbers are conventional, but vegetables such as trailing marrows, runner beans over an arch make a striking decorative focal point for a vegetable plot or even as part of the general garden. Runner beans, after all, were originally introduced from South America for the beauty of their sweet pealike blooms, and their edible value was only discovered later.

You could complete the picture with hanging baskets filled with patiotype varieties of trailing cherry tomatoes.

Colour choices

Wooden arches can be left natural, ro blend in with the surrounding plants and gradually bleach to a silvery grey with exposure to the elements.

You can also stain wood, or paint a wooden or metal arch a flat, opaque colour. White, black and dark green are timeless, classic choices. Bold hues are especially effective in winter, when deciduous plants are leafless, although softer, more subtle tints may be easier to live with.

In any case, painted arches need regular maintenance and there is nothing to stop you from choosing another, quite different colour from the existing one – perhaps try a hold green or hot fuchsia pink to follow white, just to ring the changes.

Painting an arch two tones – the support posts black and the infill panels white, for example – is another jolly option.

See Garden Construction 9-12 for how to put up an arch.

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