Adding height to your garden can be achieved in many ways and offers more than a solution to the problem of limited space. It also provides an excellent opportunity to create individuality and draw the eye to features or individual plants, which in turn can be enjoyed looking their best with their heads above the crowd.
In any style of garden there are many advantages in extending upwards. Do you want the garden to be formal or informal? Will the emphasis be on the plants or the hard surfaces? Will the planting be soft and romantic or do you prefer a crisp graphic look? Are you seeking something low maintenance or looking for an opportunity to coax the best out of a challenging plant?
A living screen of flowers or foliage, perhaps a trellis woven with clematis, can disguise an ugly wall or fence and encourages maximum beauty from minimum space. Trees or hedges can be trained to block out, wholly or partially, an unwanted view, and garden structures can be installed to add interest to a neglected corner or to divide the garden into compartments, each with its own distinct mood.
An arch or pergola can draw the eye as a focal point or act as a gateway from one area to another, perhaps from a formal to informal area, or from flower to kitchen garden – you could consider training fruit trees across the structure or even growing a crop such as purple borlotti beans over an arch if space is at a premium – the striking pods will hang down ready for easy picking. If you are fortunate enough to have space for a longer pergola, spectacular results can be achieved with formally trained wisteria or laburnum, whilst a rambling rose such as Wedding Day or Rambling Rector will reward with an abundance of delicate scented flowers in early summer.
When choosing any one of these structures it is important to consider their ability to support the weight of the plants growing on them and withstand many years of weather. Scale is important too - if a structure is too small, and the material is flimsy, it can become overwhelmed (sometimes literally!) by the planting and look out of place. An arch that is big enough for two people to walk through comfortably, side by side with plenty of room as well as overhead space, will make a stronger statement than one that is only big enough for one person to barely squeeze through – if you don’t have space to achieve this, it may be better to consider a pair of dramatic obelisks either side of a pathway instead.
Whether you are using trees, hedges or structures to bring vertical interest to your garden, it would be a mistake to think of them solely as a prop for plants – in the winter their structure will be revealed and can act as a point of visual interest in their own right throughout the year. Creating a careful framework will allow you to enjoy the world of opportunities that climbing plants can offer, well into the future – the sky is, literally, the limit!