Nothing says “Come into my garden” like an archway. It can be a main focal point of your English garden. People are drawn to it, and want to walk through it to see what other delights your garden has to offer. It’s a must for every English garden, especially cottage gardens.
What is an archway?>/b> An archway is an open structure that frames a view, and/or creates an entry to a garden. Arches are traditionally made of brick, stone or iron. It should be at least four feet wide and eight feet tall to make it easy to walk through without hitting your head. Remember you need to leave enough room for the plants to grow through it.
Wood is also acceptable – paint it white to contrast with the vines growing on it. Or paint it a complementary color to the colors of your house.
Avoid plastic arches as they aren’t usually sturdy enough to support the weight of a heavy climbing plant.
Whichever material you choose, be sure to leave open spaces so plants can twine in and out of the arch.
Or you can try a living arch. Plant fast-growing willow on each side of a path and train it over the middle to create a charming arch. This effect will work better for an informal, cottage garden look. It has the added benefit of not needing any additional plants climbing on it.
Plants for arches
• Fragrant plants are good – they’ll enhance the experience as you stroll under the arch. Avoid heavy plants like grapevines as they’ll overpower the arch.
• Roses are very traditional. Look for thornless varieties since you’ll be brushing by them often.
• Honeysuckle - a lovely, fragrant, traditional vine
• Clematis – a wide variety of colors are available
• Sweet peas – very traditional, annual vine. Try growing this with a perennial vine for a really full cottage garden look.
• Jasmine – annual in colder parts of the country, but very fragrant
• Nasturtiums – annual
At the base of your arches, underplant with short, traditional English flowers like lavender, catmint, pinks and bulbs. These will help hide the base of the vines, which are usually somewhat bare.
See the ‘related link’ below to learn more about arbors, archways, and pergolas.