The Pending Pergola

or an update to a Life Less Wonky

It is clearly an annual event that I stand in front of the pergola and consider it.  I mainly consider its longevity, or should I say lack of it?  This time last year the pergola was wonky.  I purchased the means to make it less wonky and less wonky it has remained, but....

but having straight uprights is not making up for the rotting horizontals, so I knew a decision was going to be needed sooner rather than later.

I could just replace the horizontals?  It's not a massive job and it would preserve the home of two rather nice clematis that grow up each side.


Or I could remove the pergola (and said clematis) and put in a new hornbeam to pleach.
I began to think about putting in a new hornbeam and I realised that this would make more than a little change.  Let me explain:

The pond is fairly central to the garden and with its surrounding border it takes up quite a wide spread of the garden.  When out in the garden I have to decide whether to walk to the left of the pond, through the pergola into the Wild Garden and around to the Prairie Borders; or go along the formal lawn to the right of the pond and into the Prairie Borders and around to the Wild Garden.  The pergola makes a sort of gateway into the left of the garden.  If I put in a new tree it will change the spacings as it will have to go fairly central into where the pergola currently stands. Height also has to be considered. If I put in another hornbeam then I would have to raise its pleached arms so I can comfortably walk between the trees, in fact I would have to make an arch in the hedge.  I like the sound of an arch.

After going through this thought process there was little left to consider as this all seemed rather exciting; so I bought another hornbeam.  I popped it into the vegetable beds whilst I thought a little further, just to be certain I was not going to change my mind.
A nice mild day arrived and I spent a few hours walking around a spade left in the position where the new hornbeam would need to go.  I decided it was time to stop shilly-shallying and get on with it.
First job was to remove what had once been the back-rest of a bench that had been in the garden when I first moved in.  The back had been used as a sort of bridge over the artificial stream that briefly was created in the garden.  When I filled in the stream I put the bridge back, grass grew over it and it sort of created a reinforced bit of ground where I often walk.  It now needs a new role in life.
In went the new tree.....
....and then I trimmed off most of the lower branches.  I decided I would leave the pergola standing until it either finally falls or until I know the tree has settled in ok and the pergola is surplus to requirements.  When it falls hopefully the tree will have grown a bit and be more the required height.  By then I will have also worked out what to do with the clematis as well.

Change is fun.


  1. I planted a Carpinus Betulus Fastigiata 25 years ago. It was a bit bigger than yours to start with (about 2.5 metres x 40cm) and remained nicely fastigiate for about 10 years, pushing up another metre and doubling its width. I was pleased. Then it had the arboreal equivalent of a sex change and stopped being fastigiate except at the top. Now I'm not so pleased. 8-9 metres high's ok but it now takes a biennial battle with a chainsaw to contain it to about 6 metres wide. I'm toying with the idea of removing it as it's too dominant. The lesson is to prune with abandon from the outset and not sit back and watch, as I did for too long!

  2. Speaking as someone still in the throes of planning "permanent" hard landscaping, it's nice to see something comparatively "hard" (a pergola, albeit wood and not stone) being replaced by something comparatively "soft" (a sapling, albeit woody and not herbaceous).

    It makes me feel like, whatever decisions I make, they needn't be forever. It's certainly extra work later on, to undo a bad decision: but that's no reason to not make at least *some* decision in the first place. Change isn't just fun; merely the possibility of it is reassurance!


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