The largest structure in my new garden is the pergola. At 8’ wide and 24’ long it took my construction crew a while to finish, but now it’s lovely. It’s built of yellow cedar, like the fence, and I’m allowing both to age gracefully into silvery grey without any stain or paint.
This is mostly because I don’t want to have to repaint or stain every few years (hey, I’ll cop to laziness!) and also because I’ve been assured that yellow cedar will last a good many years even untreated.
That wood is certainly hard, we had trouble nailing into it until we got heavier nails; they kept bending and breaking. Lugging those posts into place was a chore too – they’re very heavy!
The pergola runs pretty much east to west, and on the south side I planted two “ladder style” espaliered apple trees. The effect is rather like a low wall or fence covering two-thirds of the most visible side of the structure, and makes it look even more like a separate outdoor room.
On the north side I’ve planted three grapevines; they will give dappled shade in summer – a roof for my room. I thought long and hard about wine grapes, but as tempting as that may be, this location is not well suited to them and it would be heartbreaking to put in years of effort for undrinkable plonk!
The table grapes I chose were Himrod (green seedless), Suffolk Red Seedless, and Vanessa, a relatively new variety of red seedless that has produced well for me in challenging conditions.
Last summer we replaced the scruffy dirt floor with one of local stone. I debated buying gauged flagstone but the cost….We ended up using some very reasonably priced local stone which is a lovely blue-grey that plays off the silvery cedar very well.
In between the stones I’ve planted ground covers that can take foot traffic. Irish and scotch moss (sagina subulata and sagina subulata “aurea”) as well as red and elfin creeping thyme (thymus serpyllum coccineus and thymus serpyllum “elfin”). I tried to plant in large curving swaths so it doesn’t look blotchy; time will tell…