Garden Porches And Pergolas – Porches can be simple, as a covered but open structure sheltering the approach to a doorway, or they can be much grander, with a roof and sides attached to the house. Being sheltered, they are useful places to grow favorite plants, which may not tolerate the cold, wet, or wind. If container plants are under the roof, you will need to water them carefully.
Pergolas usually consist of a series of pillars made from stone, brick, or iron, supporting a top frame, ideally covered by climbing plants. They may be freestanding and cover an outdoor eating area, or they may form part of a paved walk. Alternatively they can be built with one side attached to a building, like a verandah, and without an enclosed roof.
As such, pergolas do not offer the same degree of protection to container plants as porches. They do, however, benefit from being furnished with pot plants, particularly around the base of the columns where climbing plants tend to become thin and woody. Some scented plants are a must. In spring, grow plenty of scented narcissi and hyacinths for the first sorties into the garden. In summer, try marvel of Peru, or angels’ trumpets, a robust but frost-tender shrub, which has hanging white trumpets, renowned for their delicious, evening fragrance in summer and fall. Also add pots of different lilies, carefully chosen to span the summer.
A contemporary pergola can be made from cedar beams, supported by brick columns. This is an ideal site for growing a standard fuchsia and regal pelargoniums, whose blooms can be damaged by rain. To prevent standards from blowing over, secure them between the brick columns with wire.
The proportions of standards and mop-heads make them ideal for standing against the pillars of a pergola: use flowering pelargoniums and fuchsias in summer, and hardy evergreens in winter. Bay is a strong-growing pot plant that can be trained into miniature columns, pyramids, and trees. It is easy to care for, but only moderately hardy, and does not like very cold winds.
If you want to cover a pergola with climbers, avoid growing them in pots, as they are unlikely to grow big enough to do a good job. If possible, it is better to plant them in the open ground.