Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Bower

The group over at Gardening Gone Wild has started a Garden Bloggers Workshop regarding Arbors , or as I like to call them "Bowers" and Pergolas. I had to go back into the old garden journals to get these pictures so you will have to excuse the quality of the first pictures. I simply took pictures of the pictures in my journal to show you the progress.
This all started when we had some huge pine trees that died back in 2001. We didn't realize it at the time but Pinebark Beetles were at work. Anway we had this big empty space in the garden. While I contemplated what to do with this space I set up a little seating area. Since I used the area this way my mind went on to what kind of planting or better yet I wanted a gazebo. I didn't end up with a gazebo since the accountant told me we couldn't afford this. The resourseful penny pincher in me took over....I had all of this raw wood at my disposal and plenty of time so... I started creating. I used two of the dead trees in position. Took a third tree that we had taken down and used it as the right front post. What to do for the fourth?? Well, we have a small electric chain saw so I borrowed a big limb from the big locust tree in our garden for the left front post. The long limbs forming the sides came either from the pines or the maple tree in the garden. Here it is with the top and walls up.
I mulled for some time as to what kind of floor to put here. I considered tiny gravel. I have had that before. However I thought the white would conflict and take away with the more muted tones of the wood. I considered pea gravel then. It would have worked but as fate would have it my niece called me and said they were tearing out a brick patio from their garden..did I want bricks??
YES bricks!!! That was the answer to my dilemma. I made several trips to and from bringing bricks back to our place. I got enough to make a nice floor in the Bower. My Dearly Beloved was most helpful in putting the floor down. He did most of the floor and has continued to keep it nice and level.
We have had several different vines growing up over and on the bower. The most successful are what are growing there now. The Chocolate (five-leaved Acebia)vine is in the back right corner. On the left front corner is Lonicera 'Late Dutch Honeysuckle'. There is a pass along vine of Cardinal Vine that pops up every summer.
This is how it looked this past spring. Some of the side walls have come down. The roof is gone. After it was built I could sit there and watch the beetles toss sawdust out their holes as they bored through. It took me awhile to figure out what was doing this. What can I say... I'm slow. I am pleased it has lasted this long.
There have been other vines that have come and gone. One of the vines I got rid of on purpose is the Lace Vine. It was just too good to be true. It zipped up the post and across the top of the bower and bloomed prolifically. What's wrong with that you ask??? Well, I saw it growing along a fence line at a park that we frequent. I don't want to be the one introducing a non-native vine that will crowd out natives. /there is already too much of that going on.
With the Bower slowly disintigrating I am having some of those winter dreams of a screened in sitting area. With that WHITE fence behind this area now I think this area calls for a more formal, no not fromal but we shall say 'tame' gazebo. Possibly painted white with screening. Maybe this summer...

23 comments:

Nan Ondra said...

Lisa! That's just...wow. It's one thing to design something on paper and then build it; it's quite another to take the unpromising elements that you started with and turn them into such a magical space.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Thank you Nan. I am afraid I am one of those people that read the instructions last. Instructions are sort of like recipes...I think of them as suggestions. :) I can often see something in my head but can't get it onto paper. Luckily this turned out ok.

RuthieJ said...

Wow Lisa, that's a great bower! And especially cool that you were able to use all natural materials. I'll be watching for the "remodel" this summer.

Jim/ArtofGardening said...

Wow. Impressive. It's more like a "found art" project than a typical arbor. You are nothing if not resourceful.

Marvin said...

Believe me, I've had plenty of highly planned projects that didn't turn out as well as your bower -- a fine example of doing the best you can with what you've got. Great work.

Christopher C. NC said...

Brilliant use of the materials on hand. I think I would like this rustic bower more than a more formal improvement.

shirl said...

Hi there, Lisa :-)

Fantastic! I especially love the reuse of your tree :-)

A replacement will have a lot to live up to! I love the photos from your journal too :-D

Christine said...

Wow, wha a difference that fence made. When you see the before, then the after, it's amazing. I, too, have been making arbors out of limbs, and I'd like to know how long yours held up?

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I want to thank you all for your kind remarks about the bower.

Christine I built this thing during winter in 2001. I guess you can say it held up until now. The pine tree that I stuck in the ground without anything to keep it from rotting is rotted off at ground level.

If you have your choice you should use willow or locust. They don't rot in the ground as easily. Of course if you are in an area that has other types of trees, like cypress or redwood, that don't rot easily you could use them. Anything that is in the ground will eventually rot especially if it isn't treated. I don't like to use those harsh chemicals any more than I have to.

Frances said...

Wonderful bower. I admire your using the available trees, you did a beautiful job. That little criss cross fence around the edge really sets it off. Can't wait to see the replacement.

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

Lisa,

This bower is to-die-for! I just bought a book on rustic garden art and you should be in it!!!

I love, love, love it!

Now I'm going to show it to my husband, who will just hate the idea, cause it involves trudging through the woods.

--Robin (Bumblebee)

Q said...

Dear Lisa,
This is Art-full living!
Very creative and beautiful. I agree on planting only "native" to our area. Not only do the plants do better but the butterflies depend on us to replace lost habitat. I am one who enjoys using the materials on hand and reuse and recycling. Regardless of the bank account your bower is priceless.
Beautiful!
Sherry

jodi said...

This is a wonderful work of art, Lisa...I'll be watching to see what you come up with this year too! I've heard about the naughty behaviours of silver lace vine (what'ever it's called this year, botanically...) so I've avoided buying it, too.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

WOW, Lisa! That's beautiful. I actually quite like the contrast between the orderly white fence and the less-tamed bower... and major props for all of the material reuse. I LOVE that you made it look so artful!

vonlafin said...

I don't know, that is pretty cool. But I can see a gazebo there too.

lynn said...

Interesting and lovely photos! I learned yesterday that Bowers is an old name meaning 'farmer'.

Gudl said...

That really looks wonderful. So inviting. Great idea!

Mary said...

Have you ever been a design/build contractor? Wow, Lisa. Your idea turned into reality - a beautiful one!

Congratulations! I can't imagine what might be next on your drawing board.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Again thank you for your kind comments regarding the bower.

Mary, I built cabinets for 20 years so I do know how to use tools. I don't have many tools. When I retired from that job I thought I didn't want to work so hard but every once in a while I get a wild hair and make something with the few hand tools I have. It is a challenge since I was used to having most any tool a person would need to complete a project. Sometimes I feel hog tied when trying to make something. :/

Pam/Digging said...

Lisa, your bower is magazine worthy, and I'm not exaggerating. I understand that it must come down because the base has rotted, but oh what a shame. Your series of photos show how it has grown in loveliness as it has aged.

Here in Austin, people use cedar posts (Ashe juniper, actually), which is pretty rot- and insect-resistant. I used big cedar posts with the bark still on for my shed porch, in fact.

heirloomgardener said...

Oh my, that is so inspiring. I wish I could do that in my garden, but don't think it would work on the slope.

Shady Gardener said...

Great, great, great! What a wonderful, inventive job... and I'm so impressed.

Puts my little(Walk under/through) "arbor" to shame... but, just you wait. Some YEAR, it will be finished. ;-)

Very inspiring.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I love rustic arbors & that 1 was so gorgeous! Nothing wooden lasts forever, not even an arbor from a store. Hey, you could use that pine tree that just got blown down...