Wisteria arbors seem to be on people's minds judging by the number of searches that come to this blog. Coincidentally this year happens to be a great year for me to update you all on my wisteria arbor. I have posted about it before and if you'd like to see those posts you can search on my sidebar. This year it is different because for the first time in seven years my wisteria bloomed! Hence, a fantastic time for me to talk about my wisteria arbor.
The arbor was built as a privacy wall between my property and the terrible
The supports are 6x6 pressure treated timbers 12 feet long. This allowed for 4 feet of timber in the ground and 8 feet out of the ground. The top of these timbers (both sides parallel) were notched. I then mounted and lag bolted 2x6x4 pressure treated wood to these notches. I wound up with a T, with the 6x6 being the tail of the T and the 2x6s between the top of the T. Mr Fix-it rented a bobcat with a large auger bit. He dug two foot wide four feet deep holes. It took both of us to mix the concrete and set the five supports. Once that was done I took 2x4x10 feet or so and notched them out so they would fit into the top notches on the top of the T (the 2x6s). I mounted these in place securing the pieces of wood together tightly with the notches then screwing all together. On top of these 2x4 joining beams I cut 4 foot long 2x4s as the arbor support. These are mounted four feet apart across the length of the 35 foot arbor. This would be the base for the vines I planned to grow on the arbor. The vines are important because once they filled out they gave my arbor/privacy screen some more height. A very important consideration as you'll see below with the big picture from my deck to my neighbor's home (the nice new one).
Here is a view showing some of the notching and how the arbor is built. Everyone has their own way of building arbors. This arbor was built from a plan in my head. I build things to last and wanted it to be strong. It is custom tailored for my purposes. The key with arbors is to make them appeal to you and to make them safe. Notching is an extra step that wasn't too difficult. It simply required a jigsaw, a chisel, and a hammer. The results are that step above if you can see what I mean when you look closely at the joints in the pictures.
I have three vines growing on this arbor and the wisteria pictured in the above picture is not one of them. This picture was taken at Nashville Natives Open House on April 30th. (A post will most likely be coming next week). This particular wisteria is a picture of the American native wisteria. It is reputed to be less aggressive than the Chinese version of wisteria. If you must grow wisteria then this is the one I would recommend. It is our native wisteria, Wisteria frutescens. Most likely the cultivar 'Amethyst Falls' though I am not sure. You can find 'Ameythyst Falls' at Home Depot. The bloom is quite different from the Chinese version don't you think?
Back to the vines I grow on this wisteria arbor. Remember there are five pillars or support beams? I have one Chinese wisteria growing at each end of the arbor, and a 'Dropmore' honeysuckle growing on the third beam (the center of the arbor). It has taken six years but two of the three vines have finally met in the middle. They will have to battle it out for dominance because I'm not playing favorites. Normally I would never ever plant a Chinese wisteria, let alone two. But when I built this arbor I was desperate for quick growth and fast coverage and I really-ahem-didn't know any better about wisterias. I do like wisteria but it is not for the weak at heart because it is aggressive. Fortunately I am a pretty good pruner and I tend to keep up on my vine. Not only that but this arbor is on the north side of some oak trees. The oaks shade the wisteria enough to keep it growing at a manageable rate.
The 'Dropmore' honeysuckle was a gift from my daughter Liz. She had attended a PPSMT meeting with me and received it as a door prize. The door prizes during that particular meeting went to the oldest and youngest members of the audience. Liz happened to be the youngest at that meeting. Even now she comments on how well her honeysuckle is doing. I've included a picture of it at the end of this post. This honeysuckle is not as bad as Hall's honeysuckle but it is still quite aggressive. It does however work fine on my arbor.
Under the arbor we have the Arbor Garden. It is not much of a garden. I used to have a half a dozen mophead hydrangeas growing here. But with the droughts we have suffered the last few years I've decided to move the hydrangeas closer to the house for ease of watering. In their place I've planted dwarf nandina. Nandinas (the dwarf ones) are a wonder plant. They grow in sun or shade, dry or moist soil and almost always look good. I do not like the tall nandinas because they self seed everywhere but that is not a problem with the dwarf ones. I will slowly add wildflowers to this area as well. It is currently undergoing some renovations so it is not looking its best.
Here we have a long view to the arbor. Can you see the PVC arbor to the right? This is the view from my deck looking south. The sidewalk leads to the chainlink gate and to the out front parking area. Remember the arbor is approximately 35 feet long and at its top is probably about nine feet tall. It curves down with the lay of the land and I've also adjusted its placement so as not to hurt the mature oak trees behind it. This arbor is about 10-15 feet from the property line. You must check with local codes when building something like this just to be sure you don't interfere with any easements. In our case 10 feet is the setback. My neighbor had no room to complain. Looking across the top of the arbor toward the house you can't even see the deck over there anymore. The junipers I planted behind this arbor (prior to the arbor being built) have grown in and provided me with an additional barrier. Funny, after I finally got the privacy in hand those people moved. Now I love my neighbor and wouldn't mind seeing her but she and I both agree privacy is nice and she enjoys seeing any bit of my gardens she can. This arbor included.
And here is the 'Dropmore' honeysuckle. It is a lovely orange color that is quite vivid. Robins always nest on top of the wisteria arbor within the honeysuckles arms. One night around midnight I was working on my computer when I heard the robin stir and tweet frantically. I peeked out my window at this arbor and saw a HUGE owl, probably a great horned owl, sitting next to the robins' nest. I checked the nest the next morning and was overjoyed to see all babies were still intact. I scared the owl away when I peeked out of my window I guess and it did not have time for a midnight feast. I was most disappointed because you know I was reaching for my camera to get a shot of it! The owl was magnificent and so quiet I never heard it come or leave the wisteria arbor...
in the garden....
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden