Pergolas Through Time

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Of all of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World perhaps the most wondrous were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.  It was a living monument that showed man's ability to blend nature with his own labor and vision. While the gardens have long since been lost,the human desire to blend art with nature remains.

Modern hanging gardens are assisted by pergolas. The pergola is an outdoor structure that creates a gathering place or path.  Many pergolas are used in landscaping where vines drape across the top and line the pillars. Pergolas come in many different styles and can be used as practical outdoor structures or merely as a decoration piece in a garden.  Regardless of the indented use, pergolas add an element of grace to any landscape design.

 Pergolas can form shaded walk ways or an almost enclosed passageway of pillars that appears to be a maze.
The structures date back to at least the Italian Renaissance.  By the 1600s the term pergolas had made its way into the English language where English writer John Evelyn  introduced the term to a popular audience through his writings.  Pergolas were used in a variety of functions in the gardens of the 1600s, as brick structures were popular.

Pergolas served as permanent garden features that were often constructed into a series of arches.  Standing underneath the arches allowed gardeners a measure of shade and privacy.  Even though pergolas were a staple for many years, the feature fell out of favor for a time during the 19th century.  During that era of gardening, the preference was for a purely natural looking garden.  This meant that clearly man made structures had no place in trendy gardens.

Pergolas had staying power though and even returned to prominence as gardening evolved.  The affordability of wooden pergolas has seen their popularity grow in modern times.

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