Time to Grow Up: Build an Arbor Garden

Running out of space -- or simply searching for space -- to plant some spring and summer blooms? Whether you have an expansive garden or little room to grow, arbor gardening is an excellent solution for adding some fragrant foliage (and architectural interest) to your outdoor space. All you have to do is grow up.
HGTV's resident garden guru Jamie Durie, host of "The Outdoor Room," knows a thing or two about arbor gardening, so we picked his brain on some simple (or relatively so) tips for creating your own arbor garden this season.
Best Flowers For Your Arbor
When it comes to arbor gardening, it's essential to choose the right flowers. For a country style, Durie suggests opting for Wisteria, potato vine, hardenbergia, climbing roses, hydrangeas, Dropmore scarlet honeysuckle, Clematis, Dutchman's Pipe, Morning Glory or Sweet Peas. "Bougainvillea and grapes are great for a Mediterranean vibe," he says. "And if you'd prefer the tropical look, Orange Trumpet Vine (this one grows like crazy) and variegated kiwi are all excellent options."
Growing Up
How do you get the flowers growing up and around an arbor? It's all about training. First, plant your chosen option in the ground next to your arbor. "Be sure to select plants that fit the hourly sunlight in that location. Most flowering vines prefer about four hours of sunlight each day," says Durie.
Once the plant's growth is truly underway, you'll want to train the vine stems to grow along the arbor by weaving the vines in and out of the structure. "If the vines need extra assistance," he says, "use wire or twist ties to help secure them to the structure."
Cold Weather Tending
To ensure successful growth in years to come, you'll have to work to maintain the flowers through the winter. "Pruning should start during the second winter of growth," says Durie. "You could prune anytime after the leaves begin to drop in late autumn until flower buds begin to appear in spring." In very cold winter climates, wait to prune until buds just begin to swell. This will delay growth enough to avoid damage from late frosts. For very thick vines, use lopping shears for pruning. For removing very established vines that are thicker than an inch, use a saw.
Durie also encourages arbor garden enthusiasts to be patient. "Don't try to force your vine to cover a large area too quickly," he says. "To make sure that your plant has healthy new growth, each winter you can prune the main stalks of your vine (that provide the main framework) back for sturdy growth. Don't forget to use garden ties and check they aren't too tight so they don't bind the new growth of the vine. And each winter season, begin by removing all dead, weak stalks flush back to the thicker trunks."
Choosing a Design
When it comes to selecting an arbor material or shape, Durie says to keep the design simple. "Use strong, bold timber formats," he says. "Even think about recycled or re-used timber -- overlap the joints and trail the climbers over it. The key is to let the plants be the hero, not the structure."
Still looking for ideas? We asked Durie about the type of arbor garden he'd love to grow. "Japanese style arbors are my favorite, and I love to use Stephanotis floribunda (madagascar jasmine), a dark green leathery leaf with a beautifully scented white flower," he says.
Photo Credit: flickr/ Dvortygirl

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