Posted In Garden Design

You can only have a pergola if it goes somewhere….

This is what I say to any client who includes one of these on their wish list. I think pergolas are rather lovely, especially when draped with roses doing their English-garden-in-June thing. But I always insist that these walkways have a function.

Once we have cleared up the ‘stress on the incorrect syllable’ issue of pergOHla (which sends a shiver down my spine in the same way of nails down blackboards and bare feet on sandy tarmac, and scOHnes), I have to assign the structure a function.It CANNOT be purely decorative: it needs to lead, cover or divide.

So last year I found myself designing a purely decorative pergola. With a fake perspective to boot. Inspired by Borromini’s terrifically clever maths I thought I’d try it out in the new walled garden in Kent, and my lovely, indulgent and long-suffering clients said yes. (Although they have re-named it Jo’s Folly).

So here it is, just being finished off. And no, it doesn’t do anything.  The idea was to make the distance look longer than 8 metres. I’m planning on placing a tiny, weeny statue at the far end: in theory it should like human-sized. We’ll see.