Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop – Arbors and Pergolas

– Posted in: Garden Design

Courtyard arbors early July 05

Fences and walls are two features that add vertical elements to your garden, but they’re not always the most practical or aesthetically pleasing option. Where you’d like to add height without enclosure, arbors and pergolas can be a better way to go. A free-standing arbor may frame a beautiful view, mark a transition between two areas, or create a welcoming entrance. Larger arbors and pergolas are ideal for sheltering sitting areas, adding welcome shade in sun-baked sites. And from the perspective of plant lovers, arbors and pergolas are superb supports for all sorts of gorgeous vines and climbers.

So, fellow gardeners, care to show off your favorite arbors and pergolas, either in your own garden or elsewhere? Share the story of how you chose and placed the structures you have, or tell us about your dream arbor or pergola. Or, how about showcasing some of your favorite vines and climbers? We’d love to see them! Leave a comment below, or give us a link to a related post on your own blog. At the end of the month, we’ll gather all the links into one post. To check out previous Design Workshop topics, see Paths and Walkways and Fences and Walls.

Nancy J. Ondra
Nan gardens on 4 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In the firm belief that every garden ought to have a pretentious-sounding (or at least pretentious-looking) name, she refers to her home grounds as "Hayefield." There, she experiments with a wide variety of plants and planting styles, from cottage gardens and color-based borders to managed meadows, naturalistic plantings, and veggies--all under the watchful eyes of her two pet alpacas, Daniel and Duncan.
Nancy J. Ondra

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Lisa at Greenbow January 1, 2008, 3:29 pm

Oh boy, this is gonna be fun. I can’t wait to see what people post.

Nan your garden is gorgeous. I noticed that in your Foliage book there are several photos that say ‘Ondra Garden.’ I figured they were taken in your garden. I have to be careful and not drool on the pages. 😉

Thanks, Lisa! Don’t worry about the drool on the pages, it wipes off pretty well. Rob Cardillo’s photographs really are amazing, aren’t they?

Karen Arms January 2, 2008, 9:13 am


This is fun.

How do I upload a photo? Just put the URL in?

Hi Karen! You could put the photo on your blog and give us a link to your post, or else give us the URL for just the photo. (Don’t worry about the format for the URL; I’ll make sure the link works.)

Frances January 2, 2008, 1:31 pm

By accident my posting for this topic was published today, January 2. It concerns the rose we call Killer, Alberic Barbier and its arbor. Advice is needed to decide what to do about this out of control rose. All ideas will be entertained.

A happy accident, I’d say. You get a gold star for being the first post! For those of you who want to weigh in on Killer’s fate, here’s a direct link to your post.

Karen Arms January 2, 2008, 4:40 pm

Great story of Killer, the rose. My vote on what to do was “Other,” i.e. weedkiller!

Yep, I’m thinking it’s not looking too good for ol’ Killer.

Karen Arms January 2, 2008, 4:46 pm

This is for those southerners wrestling with spiny, fast-growing, climbing roses. Here is my Lady Banks one year after it was planted on my new pergola. It is fast-growing once-blooming, and can get VERY large. BUT it is thornless, so very easy to prune.

Thanks for sharing the photo, Karen!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter January 2, 2008, 5:06 pm

I did a post back in September about my new arbor, The Year of Living Structurally ( It seems like most of my posts since then have included at least 1 photo of the arbor. It’s such a great focal point. However, in the post A Mighty Wind ( I chronicled the recent near-disaster involving that arbor.

Right, I remember the arbor’s tumble and subsequent resurrection. If you’re experiencing the same winds we are tonight, I hope it’s still upright tomorrow! Thanks for including the link to its initial arrival, too.

carolyngail January 2, 2008, 5:17 pm

On September 16, ’07 I did a post titled SWEET AUTUMN IS HERE. Sweet Autumn Clematis is what I have growing on my pergola.

Many thanks, Carolyn! Here’s a direct link to your clematis post.

Dave January 2, 2008, 9:54 pm

I am planning on building one soon so some of these images may be able to give me some inspiration on style and whatnot. Thanks for the timely post!

I’m sure you’ll get an abundance of ideas, Dave. Keep checking in!

Jim January 2, 2008, 11:31 pm

I’m glad I caught your last Blogger’s Workshop. I like the range of ideas from home-spun to custom designed by pros. I’m anxious to see what others post for this workshop.

Here’s mine:

Good to have you back, Jim! I hope our readers have been checking out your site; you’ve done a beautiful job there.

Michelle Derviss January 2, 2008, 11:40 pm

Hello Fran and friends,
I posted an entry on my blog showing a few of my favorite pergolas and arbors that span in style from the traditional to the custom designed, to ‘off the rack’ and even a few photographs of pergolas from bali.
By the way Fran, I purchased your book, ” Digging Deep” and have really been enjoying it very much.
You are an inspirational writer !

Blog link _-

Happy New Year,

Thanks so much, Michelle! I knew we could count on you for some inspiring ideas.

fsorin January 3, 2008, 7:25 am


I just got onto your website and all I can say is a big ‘WOW!’ The gardens that you and Miguel are creating are magnificent. Your philosophy, as well, captures my heart. I am quie jealous of the echiums that are growing so abundantly in one of the arbor photos.

Am glad your enjoying Digging Deep.
Please keep us posted as you add new projects to your portfolio so that we can make sure that our readers take a ‘look-see’. It is a feast for the eyes! Fran

jodi January 3, 2008, 2:22 pm

Hey, I’ll play this game; once I get my deadlines a bit sorted out. (I’ve been sick with diverticular disease again and missed a whole week of serious writing-for-pay…so the blogging is getting fitted in as possible.) I love the pergola at the top…just a wonderful thing!

Great, Jodi! You have all month, so no rush; take care of yourself first.

jodi January 3, 2008, 3:19 pm

Actually, Nan…I couldn’t work while my LSS was sitting here talking to me, so I’ve got it done! It’s at . I may do more on some interesting arbours and pergolas OTHERs have done, later in the month. Always something to share….

Thanks for taking the time, Jodi; love the blue arbors (arbours…whatever)!

Frances January 5, 2008, 5:33 am

Thanks for this topic Nan. I have posted an update about Killer today, January 5. Time is running out for him so be sure and cast your vote in the poll at the top right of the blog, Faire Garden. We want to deal with him before he starts to leaf out and the leaf buds are already swelling!

Ok, folks, your vote counts, so if you haven’t yet weighed in on Killer’s fate, here’s a direct link.

Robin (Bumblebee) January 5, 2008, 10:50 am


What a nice idea to feature arbors as a design element! I love seeing all the designs. You can see my post on the topic here:

–Robn (Bumblebee)

Yay, more pictures of one of my favorite gardens! Thanks, Robin.

Crafty Gardener January 5, 2008, 3:00 pm

Your garden design workshops are interesting. I’m looking forward to learning more.

Welcome, Crafty!

Shirl January 6, 2008, 10:21 am

Hi there, Nan 🙂

I managed a post this time although I have a Part 2 to post on as well hopefully by the end of next week.

I may add more text about the photos themselves but you will find my post at

Super! Anyone who’s looking for arbor ideas really needs to check out your post.

Ellis Hollow January 6, 2008, 5:39 pm

OK, I’m in this month:
Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop: Arbors, Pergolas (and the midnight bowling ball accident of 2003)

What a great story, Craig. Thanks for joining us on this one!

Jim January 10, 2008, 5:45 pm

Inspired by the wealth of arbor & pergola images on shirlsgardenwatch, I’ve done another post of a few other arbors found on Buffalo’s Garden Walk.

Excellent, Jim; many thanks. A nice plug for Garden Walk Buffalo, as well!

Frances January 13, 2008, 4:31 pm

Killer-The Final Chapter? has been posted to end the saga of Killer and his arbor for anyone interested in the final vote and subsequent sentencing for this rambling rose.

Here’s a direct link for those following Killer’s story. Thanks, Frances!

Shirl January 15, 2008, 4:50 am

Hi again, Nan 🙂

Okay, sorry it has taken much longer than expected but my Part 2 posting is now finally up. You can see it on . I should warn you though that it is a long post 😀

How about “promise” instead of “warn”? Long is good! I’m looking forward to seeing Part 2.

Kathy January 24, 2008, 1:39 pm
Heirloom Gardener January 24, 2008, 11:17 pm


Here’s a post about the heirloom plants that I grow on one of my arbors:

Thanks to all contributors for your inspiration.

-Heirloom Gardener

Thanks, HG: I like both of your choices.

Pam/Digging January 24, 2008, 11:54 pm

I have no arbors or pergolas of my own, but I found some to post about anyway:

Wow – a superb collection of arbors, Pam. Many thanks!

Angela (Cottage Magpie) January 25, 2008, 3:01 am

Better late than never, right? Here’s my “third time’s the charm” story of selecting the arbor at my last garden:

Hope you enjoy it!
~Angela 🙂

A beautiful post, Angela, and full of good insights for anyone trying to choose an arbor for their garden. Thanks!

Karen Arms January 26, 2008, 11:23 am

Here’s my lengthy post on the construction of my patio and pergola: Love the variety of arbors and pergolas that have shown up during this workshop.

A superb series of before, in-progress, and after photos, Karen. Thanks!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter January 30, 2008, 11:48 am

Here’s my post with a question about a foundation for my arbor:

Thanks, MMD. Looks like you’re getting some good advice there on how to secure your arbor from future wind damage.

Lawrence W February 7, 2008, 3:04 pm

It’s a blog for our commercial site–yes, we are pros!

There’s plenty of pergolas and arbours in the other blog–(the elder sister of pergolas).

I’ve put a link up to your interesting concept!

Lois J. de Vries February 9, 2008, 4:51 pm

Look here for my entries:

Welcome to GGW, Lois, and many thanks for sharing the link!

Shady Gardener February 9, 2008, 9:20 pm

This is the post I made last July about an “Arbor in Progress.” 😉

Hey there, Shady! I’m glad you could join us. I love your rustic twig arch. I notice in our site statistics that a number of people have been searching of photos for that kind of arbor, and I don’t think we had many others, if any. So, double thanks!

csgo smurfs August 15, 2017, 6:40 am

That is a beautiful shot with very good light-weight .|

Fran Sorin August 15, 2017, 7:13 am

Thanks. Will pass your thoughts onto Nan Ondra who wrote this post!

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