GARDEN: Gotchie-gotchie on the pergola

SUMMER time is an opportunity to venture outdoors and enjoy nature’s fragrances and sounds with family and friends.

A pergola is a place to relax with guests
A pergola is a place to relax with guests

This can happen when you create a pergola in your garden, that special ancient space. No garden is really complete without one. It introduces affluence, an aura of prestige.

Since time immemorial, pergolas have been used as relaxing places and as mystical gateways to great gardens. They break the monotony of the garden.

Ideally, a pergola must be positioned near the house for easier access. This can be on the veranda, depending on the house’s architectural design.

A pergola can also be used as a long passageway in a big garden or park, lending a new dimension to one’s stroll in the garden. Pergolas are the epitome of relaxation, sheltering guests from the sun.

They can stand alone or be adorned by an array of colour provided by a rich selection of plants. The plants can be trained on to the poles of the pergola, whilst hanging baskets can be displayed to give that oomph.

Various materials are used to construct pergolas. In my opinion, those made from natural materials like wood really stand out. If cement is used, the overall finish will depend on how it blends with the rest of the house. Brick work pergolas have their place in a farm setting.

The type of garden design determines the best way to build a pergola. Formal designs require a similar type of pergola with symmetrical art form whilst an informal garden design will do with the use of natural materials.

The stability of your structure also determines the type of plants to use. Climbers like the bougainvilleas can be dense and weighty, there require strong support pergolas.

Climber roses are the perfect choice for a wedding venue pergola. Besides the colour they provide, the roses produce sweet fragrances and also drop petals.

The parthenocissus quinquefolia and the tricuspidata are both self clinging climbers with bronze coloured foliage that will stick to the wall. The solanum wendlandii displays large blue flowers throughout the year. Grape vines can also be suitable as they give fruit later in the year. However, since they are deciduous, you will have to contend with bare vines in winter. Clematis and granadilla are also excellent climbers for the pergola. However, the selection of appropriate plants is by no means limited to climbers only, it also incorporates pots and hanging basket plants like the stag horn fern, platycerium bifucartum, ladder fern, petunias, buzy lizzie, geranium, verbena and nasturtium.

The aristolochia elegans, the thunbergia mysoriensis, the lady slipper and the dutchman’s pipe can hang from the roof of the pergola.

One of my favourites is the pyrostegia venusta – the golden shower – which produces orange blooms.

This summer, construct a pergola and enjoy the outdoor braai parties. It is gotchie-gotchie time!

Andrew is a horticulturist and can be contacted on [email protected]

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