The poetic charm of a dressed pergola

Wooden pergola with blooming wisteria

Summer sends its scorching heat out but one spot in the garden offers a cool atmosphere which is perfect for the heat-struck visitor: the canopy pergola covered in plants.

An unmistakable feeling of peace calls out from a plant-covered pergola, often set at the entrance of both house and garden.

The charm of a pergola

Modern equator-facing houses designed with the goal of maximizing sunlight count planted pergolas as an essential feature.

  • Indeed, they keep the house from overheating.
  • The cool heat sink they create absorbs the summer sun’s excess rays, a truly environment-friendly solution against warm, dry air.

These shade-covered terraces or decks are particularly well suited to regions where summers tend to be very hot. Pergolas with plants growing on them are also great outdoor perks for socializing. Imagine setting up a table for lunch in the half-light of cool, breathing plant shade! It is a perfect protection against the sun’s aggressive infra-red rays.

Wood, such as douglas fir, cedar or other autoclave-treated species will stand strong against rotting. Together with wrought iron, these are the two most common materials to set a pergola up, either as a lean-in or an extension of the house.

  • Pergola structures built from wood tend to have a flat “roof”. They’re made of thinner beams resting upon sturdier columns and posts, firmly latched to the ground and wall.
  • Metal-based options such as wrought iron usually make the most of this ductile material’s flexibility and rise to the sky in arching domes and vaults, creating an enchanting tunnel of greenery.
  • Aluminum often appears in standalone pergolas which stand independently from any existing building.

Climbing plants for pergolas

Small two-person seat pergola ready to welcome vine plantsHowever the look – vintage or trendy modern style – the structure must stand strong to withstand the weight of the climbing plants that will climb atop it. Getting the selection of plants right is crucial. If you want to avoid insects hovering around your cool oasis, avoid fruit-bearing varieties. Best are species that provide dense, lush foliage that will maximize shade quality. A very effective sun-blocker is Virginia creeper. This vine has the added appeal of shining in a host of ever-changing colors as seasons push on.

If you wish to revel in fresh soothing scents, opt for wisteria: the flowing panicles release a delicious fragrance in cooler spring, and the flowers disappear in summer when the odor would have felt too powerful and heady. Delicately fragrant honeysuckle thrive with exposures set on part sun and shade. Akebia, which bears semi-evergreen foliage, prefers full sun and releases a perfume similar to refined citrus-flower scents during spring. Clematis is as resilient as it is elegant. If you love roses, you can choose from a vast array of climbing rose tree cultivars, but avoid thorny ones! Be sure to diligently follow-up their pruning calendar to keep them under control.

Fabienne Lisse

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Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY 2.0: Field Outdoor Spaces