Thank you for reading part 6 of our garden makeover, ‘how we made a gravel patio‘, and welcome to part 7!
After our visit to Sissinghurst Gardens, we were inspired to copy some of the design elements and apply them to our own garden. Sissinghurst is divided into different ‘rooms’, lots of hidden corners at every turn. So we decided to divide our garden and section off half with trellis and a garden arch. The formal part of our garden has a path down the middle. We wanted it to lead to the arch and through to the second half of the garden. Either side of the arch we wanted to put up trellis panels to grow climbers and to screen off the back of the garden.
Where to start
We went to one of our local garden centres and found a reasonably priced wooden arch. It had to be assembled so we spent the best part of the morning making sure it was straight. Then we prepared the ground at the end of the path. My husband dug four holes for the posts and the arch was secured using fast setting concrete. Afterwards we laid weed surpressing membrane under the arch and filled in the space with gravel. We contained the gravel with wooden boards at the end, as we didn’t know what we were planning with the rest of the garden yet. Initially we were going to leave it fairly ‘wild’. At one time I thought a small orchard would be nice. All of that changed later!
While my husband was putting up the arch, I was busy painting the trellis panels. I wish someone had told me what a painful job that was! When you’re painting trellis, you think you have painted all the little nooks and crannies on one side and then you paint the other side. By the time you finish and turn it over, you can see all the bits that you missed the first time. I think I painted those things three times over if not more, every time there was another bit missing!
Once everything was dry, we put in strong wooden posts either side of the arch to secure the trellis. Again we used quick drying concrete after digging holes and placing the posts inside. Make sure you use a level to check that everything is straight. The slightest mistake can make everything look very uneven.
All that was left to do was to go over the bits of trellis that I hadn’t painted. Yes, there were still bits I had missed.
Now comes the fun part – planting!
It helps to have an idea of what you want your arch and trellis to look like in a year or two. We wanted the trellis and arch to be completely covered so that it screens off the part of the garden behind it.
If you want your garden to look established from the start, buy the biggest plants you can afford. That way the garden will look a lot more mature and your plants will be that little bit stronger to settle in to their new home. If you’re on a budget, plant small plants and wait for them to grow or get quick growing climbers.
As always, when planting a new plant, make sure you know what the conditions are in that part of the garden. Is there a lot of sun or is it shady? What kind of soil do you have there? Pick the right plant for the right place and your plants will thrive. You may find our post about how to choose the right plant for your garden helpful.
What we planted along the trellis
On the left trellis we planted a white climbing rose ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’. You can see this in the picture above on the left. Right now, two years later, it reaches over the top of the trellis. It covers the whole of the left half.
Next to it we planted a bog standard prunus, the kind that you use as a hedge. We bought it because it was priced down, a real bargain. We thought it would fill a gap and cover the lower part of the trellis with green foliage. It turns out it has grown beautifully and we just need to give it a little pruning once a year to keep it in shape. You can see this next to the rose (in the middle) on the above picture.
We then planted a Chinese Wisteria against the arch. You just about see it on the right of the picture. We wanted this to grow over the arch so that the blooms hang down the top of the arch. Two years later, I can tell you that this plant is doing really well and looked absolutely beautiful in spring.
The trellis on the right has another Wisteria growing against the arch. This time it’s a white one and was slightly smaller than the purple one. In the middle is another Prunus and we planted a white rambling rose on the right, ‘Rose Felicite et Perpetue’. On the opposite side we planted a raspberry bush which is now enormous and gives us plenty of tasty berries.
I love the idea of combining plants with fruit or vegetables, they can look lovely together and you have the added bonus of a harvest.
Fast forward two years later…
Everything is now really well established and the arch and trellis are covered, just as we planned. When we walk through the garden now, we feel it is so much more interesting. Here are a few photos of how everything grew:
The Wisteria is now really tall and the blooms hang beautifully from the arch in Spring. I wish I could describe the lovely scent when walking through the arch.
The trellis is now completely covered in plants either side. Both roses are doing very well. The photo above was taken last year in 2019 in early Spring and you can see how established it already looks.
Just two months later, and you can see how different the garden looks. Spring is now in full swing and everything has grown lush and showing off its beautiful colours.
I hope you enjoyed our tale of arch building, trellis painting and planting and hope it has inspired you to tackle your own little garden make-over.
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