Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – May 26, 2004
Back Yard Pergola
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – May 26, 2004 – Hooray – construction starts tomorrow! I’m forever mixing up the terms pagoda and pergola, so I’ve gone to my trusty Webster’s and looked up the words. I’m having a “pergola” built over a section of my back garden. When I bought this house the landscaping was minimal and I’ve spent a number of years creating my gardens.
It’s been a labour of love (emphasis on labour) and they are now mature and quite lovely. This spring I added two final touches, a Weeping Larch and a red Japanese maple. There is nothing left to do with plants and shrubs, but I’ve wanted to add a free standing structure to provide shade for a number of years. I thought about a motorized awning, but ruled it out as a bit too casual for the look I wanted. I hope to end up with an outdoor room. A place to enjoy the garden where I can read, relax and entertain.
So now that I’m clear on the term ‘pergola’, I’m no longer in danger of adding a multi-story far eastern pagoda, with numerous curved- up roofs to my garden. I’m all set. John the Amazing, is set to start tomorrow at noon. The structure will be nine feet high in the interior and will cover the wooden deck of my garden, an area about ten feet by fifteen feet. Arthur and Roger, my gargoyles, will continue to live on the lower cobblestone patio where their raison d’etre is to scare away strangers with mischief on their minds.
The corner support pillars will be about a foot square and possible finished with a tightly woven lattice. The roof girders will be made from two by eight foot lumber and will span the full fifteen feet of the deck. Some fret work at the top front corners will add a bit if whimsy. I see pots of brightly coloured plants hanging from the cross beams of my outdoor room, and possibly some candle sconces or lanterns.
My table and chairs will be set up here, and soon my back yard will be alive with the tinkle of the silver bell and the familiar call, “Dinner is served in the pergola”. The lower patio will still be home to my curved concrete benches, big pots of summer flowers and my little water fountain, complete with copper spigot and decorative birdies.
Then comes the question – should I start growing some vines up the corner posts, or leave them bare to weather with the change of seasons? I’m thinking the latter. I still want sunbeams to filter through the structure and dance across the deck floor. The space needs to feel airy and secluded at the same time. This is the wonder of a pergola, its beauty lies in this contradictory nature. My Hornbeam tree will actually grow through part of the structure and its branches will add interest and colour to one corner.
My garden gate anchors the far end of my yard, but my soon-to-be completed pergola will become the heart of my garden. In an outdoor space that has been too hot to use during the summer months this simple structure is the perfect solution. I’ve waited a long time to be able to have the pergola built and it’s going to give me enormous pleasure to see it completed.
I hope the finished product lives up to the picture I have envisioned in my mind – but one way or the other, I think this calls for a celebratory tee-shirt. It could simply say – “Pergola not Pagoda”.