By Francesca Filanc, for Let’s Talk Plants! June 2022.
Using Garden Structures Makes Exciting Gardens
Adding arbors, pergolas, and tuteurs to the garden landscape makes for exciting and dramatic gardens.
“Go up in the air with plants!” - the late Chuck Kline, horticulturalist of Sea World, famously said in talks.
It is always thrilling to see the use of arbors, pergolas, towers and tuteurs in a garden. Queen Marie-Antoinette had an exciting, excessive garden built in 1775, making use of structural hardscape at what is now the large public park located along the western edge of the 16th arrondissement of Paris called Bois de Boulogne.
Our family visited this amazing, beautiful garden some years ago. I was so taken by seeing the roses up in the air that I knew I wanted to put tuteurs and towers in my garden. Since then, I have been on many garden tours and trips where I experienced these features in outstanding, dramatic gardens. The gardens were dramatic, but also the use of these structures can make for a quiet, peaceful place to sit and “smell the roses” literally.
The Parc de Bagatelle, situated at the heart of the Bois de Boulogne, is one of the City of Paris’ four botanical gardens. Created in 1775, the park and its chateau were built in 64 days after a wager between Queen Marie-Antoinette and her brother- in-law, the Count of Artois. The Parc de Bagatelle is a great place for walking and relaxing. As well as giant trees and varied plant life, little bridges, rocks, caves, expanses of water and artificial waterfalls add to the charm and romantic aspect of the park. The 19th century Chinese pagoda is just one of the park’s curiosities. Visitors can admire the magnificent rose garden with 10,000 rose bushes from 1,200 different species. The park regularly hosts exhibitions and events as well as classical music concerts in the summer.
In my garden I am using structures for all kinds of vines including roses. ‘Mexican Flame Bush,’ passionflowers, wisteria, petrea, and jasmine are all on structures that go up in the air. I couldn’t resist buying a new Chinese wisteria this spring. My mum, Pat Welsh, was over to my garden and remarked, “Francie, why don’t you put an arbor for the wisteria to climb on?”
I was going to put a tuteur (French word for a tower structure for roses) but, thrilled by mum’s suggestion, I ordered a wooden arbor immediately online. As soon as it was installed in the garden the wisteria put shoots out and started winding around the posts counterclockwise. Japanese wisteria winds clockwise around structures.
I wasn’t going to put an arbor there because there is no path under the arbor. But Mum remarked "Why do you need a path? There is a little hidden part of the garden over in that area where the little ones love to go and one lovely child calls it her ‘secret spot."
The roses are blooming beautifully, and the ‘First Love’ gardenias have started to bloom. I look forward to going out into the garden every morning and looking at my new arbor as well as all the other structures in the garden that make me look up at the beautiful blossoms that adorn them in all colors of the rainbow.
In conclusion, buying or making a structure for your garden for plants and vines to grow up into the air adds excitement and beauty to your garden landscape. It is thrilling to behold.
The author's latest finished artwork, inspired by the colors of her garden, is mixed media on Belgian linen, with gold and silver leaf, plastic, paper and acrylic paint, called 'Muse of Africa'. To see more of her work, visit Francesca Filanc | Francesca's Fine-Art.